November 22, 2015


Well, it’s just about that time again.  That yearly get-together with the fam.
Yeah.  Thanksgiving.
Hoo boy.
Here’s how, with a few variations each year, it usually goes:
Once at the house and divested of mukluks and a down-filled coat that made me look like the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man, I hand my mother the pumpkin pie she’d asked me to make.  This one is made of freshly-processed pumpkin, not that tinned crap. This results in a lighter color and the flavor is remarkable.
So my mother feels compelled to remark.
“Looks sort of anemic, doesn’t it?”
“Top it with a unit of O Negative, then.  Where is everybody?”  The driveway was a sea of cars.
“You’re the first.”
“Opening a used car lot?”
“Overflow from the neighbors’ big do.”
“So . . . what?  The family’s going to park on the street, like I did?”  The house is on a hill with a 50-foot driveway.
“Looks that way.  We just wanted to help out. You might try loving your fellow man a little more, Carson.  Your snarky attitude is unbecoming.”
All this from a woman whose dirty look can open clams at twenty paces.
But okay, I’ll go along.  She’s getting older.  She’s forgotten that where she spits, grass never grows.
“What can I do to help?” I’m hoping quite a lot.  My mother is not the best of cooks.
“Nothing really.  It’s all done. We can go sit and talk until everyone else gets here.”
“Well, before we do that, how about if I go and scatter some salt and sand on the driveway—it’s pretty slick out there.”
“In a minute.  I have something I want to discuss with you.”
Oh, God.
When we are seated, Mom drops the big one.  “I think your father is having an affair.”
Holding in explosive laughter, which, having nowhere to go, travels downward, instantly inflating my ankles, I said, “Mom, Dad is 83 years old.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“He’s legally blind.”
“He only has one leg.”
“And a colostomy bag.”
“What’s your point?”
“I can’t believe you just asked me that.”
So, after Mom dries her eyes, I posed the big question.
“How do you know, anyway?”
“He’s started wearing thong underwear.”
Most people, mainly women, wear thongs to avoid underwear lines in their pants.  I’d really like to know who my father thinks is looking at his ass.  “That’s it?  Thong underwear?”
“And he’s using that Axe cologne.”
“Ah, I take it he’s losing his sense of smell, as well, then?”
“This is not the time for jokes, Carson.  Oh, and he’s letting his hair grow longer.”
My father has had a crew cut for as long as I’ve known him.  “Perhaps he’s finally decided to leave the 1950s behind?”
“I don’t think so.
“Okay, so who with?  Any idea?”
“Oh, I know exactly who with.”
Evidently, according to my mother, Pop has become enamored of the local Postmistress . . . who is 92, uses a walker, and is nearly deaf.  Getting the mail is never a peaceful pursuit if there is anyone requiring front desk service.  At Christmastime it's bedlam in there.
“So what are you going to do about it?  Have you talked to him?”
“Why not?  Talking to me isn’t going to get it resolved.”
“I don’t want to discuss it.”
“You don’t have to.  I’m going to go talk to him.”
“No.  It has nothing to do with you.  Leave it alone.  Let’s just have a pleasant Thanksgiving, all right?”
Yes, kindly readers, this is Thanksgiving in my house.
The aged relatives begin arriving, with only minor sprains and bruising from slipping on the ice in the driveway on the way up from the street.
Once everyone is comfortable, Mom hustles us into the dining room to eat “before everything dries out.”
Food is passed, plates are loaded, wine glasses filled and it begins.
My Uncle Dan starts things off.  “So, how’s life with the Buckinghams?”
My mother bursts into tears and dashes from the room.
“About the same, I see,” he mutters.
By the time my mother composes herself enough to return, Aunt Shirley is already on her fifth glass of wine and her seventh filthy joke.  This doesn’t play well to Aunt Mary, who is a nun.  My brother has decided to use his considerable talents as a career waiter in a diner to instruct the group on French serving and is launching food all over the room.  Dad is still looking for his fork.  My cousin Lois hasn’t taken her face out of her pocket mirror since she arrived, and has answered at least six calls on her Bluetooth, since she knew we’d all want to hear her side of each conversation.  Aunt Anne has removed her wig and is beating my cousin Donald with it—I have no idea why.
The only reason that there is no gunplay this year is that, when Mom wasn’t looking, I sneaked Prozac into the stuffing . . . a lot of Prozac.  By the time the football game started, the family members who weren’t unconscious were actually getting along, and even I was a little less snarky.
Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!

November 9, 2015


After my last drive down the Arizona street that landed me in Colorado, Stij decided that the time had come to install a GPS in the car.
“And what does GPS stand for?  Go Park Somewhere?” I asked.
“In your case, most likely.”
“I think I’ll be cooking dinner tonight…”
“I take it back!  I’m sorry!”
“That’s better.  Now how do you work this thing?”
“You just turn it on and tell it your destination address.  After you do that, it will tell you, turn by turn how to get there.”
“Wow, that’s great.”
“I hope it helps.  I’ve got to get going if I’m going to make that meeting before 9:30, so I’ll see you later.”  He jumped into the truck and left.
I was all alone with this new gadget, so I thought I’d try it out.
Three hours later, Stij walked in the door.  “Do you hear shrieking outside?  I hear shrieking.”
“Oh, that's just the GPS.  It’s giving me turn by turn directions to Moscow.  About now, I think it may be drowning in the Pacific Ocean.”
Stij sighed.  “I’m going to go turn it off.”  He opened the door and stepped outside, just as a police cruiser pulled up.
The police exited the vehicle with guns drawn.   “Stop right there!  Who’s doing all that screaming?”
“It’s the car—my wife tricked it into the Pacific Ocean.”
They lowered their guns.  “Hey, your wife wouldn’t be Carson Buckingham, would she?”
“The same.”
While Stij turned the gurgling GPS off, one of the officers clicked on his shoulder radio.  “We’re at the location.  Everything’s under control.  It’s Carson again.”
“Holy Mother of God, what’s that crazy bitch done now?  She’s not cooking again, is she?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”  He clicked it off again.
The other officer was about to re-holster his weapon, but instead held it out to Stij.  “Sure you don’t want this?”
“Not today, thanks.”
They left shortly afterward.
When Stij came back inside, he said, “Your reputation is really starting to spin out of control around here.”
“Are you saying that it’s time to move again?”
“No.  And by the way, you’re supposed to use the GPS while you’re driving so it can tell you where to turn.  You don’t use it in the driveway.”
“But you didn’t say that.”
“That’s because I forget who I’m talking to, sometimes.”
“Okay, then I’ll take it out for a spin.  Do you need me to pick up anything for you?”
“Let’s try Home Depot again,” he said, and gave me a list.
When I was sitting in the car, he leaned in the window and showed me another interesting feature of the GPS.
“You can have either a man’s voice or a woman’s voice giving you directions.  You just press that button once for a man’s voice and twice for a woman’s.”
“Okay, I’m off.  See you later.”
After I backed out of the driveway, I pushed the button twice, and getting no response, I pushed it again a few times.  Finally, results.
Unfortunately, I now had both male and female voices giving me directions, and it went something like this:

Male:    “Take your next left.”
Female:   “Oh, don’t do that!”
Male:    “It’s a short cut.”
Female:    “I’ve been on your ‘shortcuts.’  Wanna see Albuquerque, sweetie—just follow his directions!”
Male:   “Okay, now you missed the left you were supposed to take.”
Female:   “She needs to turn around, then.”
Male:   “She doesn’t need to turn around.  I’ll plot a different route.”
Female:   “Have you ever noticed how men never, ever turn around?  Well, honey, if you go down about a mile and turn right, there’s this cute little dress shop…”
Male:   “We’re going to Home Depot, goddammit!”

Well, you get the idea.  This went on for quite some time.  I finally had to call Stij.
“Hi.  It’s me.”
“Are you planning on coming home tonight?”
“Eventually.  I got lost again.”
“What?  How is that possible?”
“Weeeeell, there was a problem with the GPS.”
“What happened?”
“It exploded.”
“Where are you?”