As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I find myself thinking more and more about food.
Of course, I don't need Thanksgiving as an excuse to think about food.
I also need to qualify that by saying "thinking more and more about food" I really mean "eating more and more food like it's Thankgiving every goddamn day."
That's another story.
So, last year, I went to see my parents for Thanksgiving. My mother - in a triumph of the human spirit - decided to cook the whole meal herself.
I also need to qualify that by saying "cook the whole meal herself" really meant "cook the whole meal with my forced assistance."
We both were terrified.
To add to the horror at hand, I should mention that my family's kitchen - while amped up with newfangled appliances, is a junkshow of broken accessories and worn-out hand devices. Basically, any time I tried to put my limited cooking skill to use, I was doubly challenged by having to work with tools that were busted beyond reason.
For example, the toaster oven has to practically implode to char or toast or heat anything.
And my mother's electric handmixer, despite being a lovely mid-century shade of avocado, is so brokedown, that both mixers no longer lock into the base - making anything close to "mixing" damn near impossible.
"Um, Mom. You should get a new one of these. This shit's busted."
"Just keep the mixer jammed hard into the bowl. It works. Trust me."
I shrugged my shoulders and worked that mixer (which I later figured out was a wedding gift to my mother...making the thing four years older than me) as best I could.
As we sweated and toiled and thrashed around the kitchen with various antique hand appliances, I asked:
"Hey mom. How about for Christmas I buy you a KitchenAid mixer and a new toaster oven and a new..."
Before I could finish the list of intended gifts, I got a hard pinch to my upper arm.
"Don't you dare buy me any new kitchen shit," she said through clenched teeth.
Wincing from the pinch, I wailed: "Why not? Nothing works!"
"Don't you get it - I can blame my not cooking on all this crap. If I get stuff that works in here, people will start to expect things."
"Like decent meals?"
"Exactly," she said. "Now, let's pretend this conversation never happened."
I laughed, feeling like I'd just been given the shake-down by a mob boss.