Honolulu, Calcutta…


On this day I give thanks that Thanksgiving comes only once a year.

Not that I have much right to complain, this year’s was surprisingly painless. We seem to have refined our ritual down to its core elements, and so can jump through all the necessary hoops in about three hours before returning to our regularly scheduled lives. Show up, eat, bounce. That’s what I’m talking about. Obviously, the subtleties and details are many, as they are with any family.

Our Thanksgiving is in Napa, a god-awful dive of a town that, through some absolutely ingenious marketing scheme, has the reputation for being quaint and upscale. Let me clue you in on something, fuckmook, vineyard might sound fancy, but you know what it really is? A grape farm. Just like a corn farm or a tree farm or a whateverelsecanbefarmed farm. And we all know the most essential ingredient for farming, as inescapably necessary for agricultural success as nitrogen in the soil and sunshine, is ignorant white folk. Napa has plenty, and I am related to a good percentage of them.

So we descend on my cousin’s house, a cookie-cutter tract affair with a ‘Happy Fall, Y’all’ sign being held up by a cartoonish turkey on the front porch.


Trying to capture that special something that makes this house so damn Napa would be impossible, so I’ll just give you a couple of mental images and you can fill in the gaps for yourself.

The front room has three main decorations: an absolute fucking plethora of family photos and greeting cards arrayed on top of an aged big screen TV, a battalion of wooden and lace angels holding up signs that say things like Bless This House or God Hates The Gays or whatever Christian slogans people from Napa write on their cutesy lil’ angel signs, and finally a god damn enormous mounted elk head. I don’t know who shot this elk, but they must’ve used a sidewinder missile, because this thing’s head alone is bigger than me. A few quick mental calculations and I can say with reasonable confidence that, in life, this elk weighed 34 tons and stood 19 feet tall. This monstrosity would look out of place in a hunting lodge, just because of its size, and in my cousin’s ultra-low ceilinged living room it’s just an affront. The thing is mounted about 3 feet off the ground just so its rack won’t jam into the ceiling, and juts so far out into the main living area that you’re constantly ducking, flinching, or limboing to avoid its predatory jaws or barbwire antlers.

A lot of ignorant fucks out here in California don’t know about elk. Fools think Oh, an elk, it’s like a deer.

No, friend. No it is not.

I come from a long line of hunters; it was my great great grandpas who cleansed our country of the filthy herds of bison that once tainted its rolling plains; it was my ancestors who showed those god damn grizzlies who’s really boss and drove them north across the Oregon border; it’s my family that’s made sure that your kids will grow up never seeing any wild animal larger than a possum. You’re welcome. I know my god damn wildlife, and let me tell you that an elk is not a deer. An elk is 60% Clydesdale, 20% mastodon, and 20% semi truck. They’re like furry dinosaurs, and make this horrible horrible sound that sounds like Ron Artest beating up a bagpipe. And they’re huge.

God damn elk. How did I get so far off track? Where was I…

Ah the ritual. So we show up, hug the relatives, and my father and I immediately march out to the garage as is our duty as men. Women and children in the house, men in the garage. It’s like a god damn mandate. We sit out in the freezing garage, watching the Lions get the piss whipped out of them by Manning and his superhuman offensive line, and talk in brief, awkward blurbs.

Uncle who is a truck driver: “How’s school? Almost done now, ain’t ya?”
Our Hero (me): “Yep. Getting close”
Cousin who restores hotrods for a living: “Unemployedcousin isn’t comin this year.”
Our Hero’s Dad: “Oh yeah?”
UWIATD: “Yep.”
Our Hero: “……..”
CWRHFAL: “Got these new propane tanks here, had to turn the old ones in, it’s cheaper than replacing the valves.”
Our Hero: What the fuck are you talking about?
Our Hero’s Father, who knows about things like propane tank valves: “Oh yeah.”
UWIATD: “Detroit just fumbled again.”
Our Hero: “Propane is cool.”

Bienvenidos a la Gregg Family Thanksgiving.

We banter. We shuffle our feet awkwardly. The women come and get us when dinner is ready, like good squaws.

Then we eat, then each subbranch of the family asks me to repair their computers in turn, and I fix the ones that are actually on-site, namely the two my cousin has. To the others, I offer intelligent and forthright computing advice that will no doubt be completely ignored or botched horribly. Such is my station in life, amongst the relatives.

Aunt: “Our computer is acting up again.”
Me: “What’s it doing?”
Aunt: “It’s really slow, and sometimes turns blue.”
Me: Never touch anything newer than a rotary phone. Ever. “Maybe I can come take a look at it.”
Aunt: Yeah right, lazy ass. “That’d be great.”
Me: Yeah right. “Just give me a call.”
Aunt: Heathen “OK.”
Me: Primitive “Great.”
Aunt: “How’s school?”
Me: “Propane is cool.”

I just found this picture:

See that fucking thing? That’s an elk, not even that big of an elk, fucking up a car.
No human, ever, besides Ken and Ryu from Street Fighter, has ever been able to take on a car. Elk are fucking huge.

Sorry, back to the ritual.

So I fix computers, we watch the Lions lose, we talk about random crap
UWIATD: Are you gay? “You got a main squeeze down there in SLO?”
Me: No I’m not “Nah, the girls down there aren’t that great.”
Aunt: If you believed in Jesus he’d give you a girlfriend “I’m sure there must be someone
Me: BITCHES AINT SHIT ICE COLD BOOYA “I’m pretty busy anyway.”

So it goes. Also, it’s not like it’s just my family at this event. There’s hella fools, and I mean hella fools I don’t even know. Family members who are so distant that I’ve never met them, neighbors, Napans, and probably a circus midget. Hella fools. And there was this god damn baby.

Those of you who know me, know I don’t do kids. Me and kids, we just don’t match. For me, children go through three distinct stages: Baby (Which lasts until they can talk and move with relative ease), Child (which lasts until they can drive), and Fucking Annoying (which is pretty much forever.) I can’t tell how old they are, and I don’t know how to talk to them. I see other people talk to them like they’re pets, instead of larval people. That can’t be healthy. Then again, when I talk to them, they just look at me. This baby today is the perfect example.

This baby rolls up to me while I’m sitting there, and starts watching me. It can walk, and is carrying a shredded towel I’ve heard others refer to as its ‘blanket’, and is sucking on a pacifier. It just watches me. I watch back. Things get weird.

Me: “Hello, baby.”
Baby: “…”
Me: “Baby, what is your name? Who do you belong to?”
Me: “Why are you looking at me, baby? Leave me be.”
Baby: “…..”

And the thing just stares at me, chugging away at its pacifier, its awful, piercing baby eyes boring into my sanity.

UWIATD: “Hey there Matilda! You hungry? Huh? Want a little cookie cookie?”
Me: “It doesn’t know how to speak, I don’t think.”
Baby: “I’m not very hungry, thank you though.”

That fucking baby busts out with FULL SENTENCES and NO BABY LISP. It was HORRIFYING, scared the shit out of me. It’s 2 1/2 feet tall and talks like 35 year old secretary, like a real life, female Stewie. Scared the hell out of me. You can’t drag around a towel once you can conjugate verbs. You can’t. Put the towel down, baby, I’ll have no more of your trickery.

It’s not that I dislike my relatives.

I don’t want to give that impression. In their own way, they are good people. They are just not my people. My parents and I are this little island of black sheep sanity that broke free of the mainland 35 years ago, and now we barely speak the same language as the natives.

I was also gonna write about some other shit, about trip-hop mixes and traffic and medieval literature, but I guess that’ll have to wait. I’ve written too long as it is, I know you short attention-spanned fuckers stopped reading after the second paragraph anyway. We’ll see who’s laughing come test time, slackers.

Happy Thanksgiving, fatties.



One Response to “Honolulu, Calcutta…”

  1. Holy fuck, Trev, that was the funniest shit I’ve read in ages. My abs, they hurt like a motherfucker, and its all your fault. Thank you. Thank you so much. Axe’

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