the crazy gene
by Bella Rum
Our group was much smaller this year than in past years. My son’s, nephew’s, and sister’s families all celebrated Thanksgiving in other places – some because of distance and others because of obligations elsewhere.
We had no serious drama this year. No one was rushed to the hospital, no one spilled any deep-seated secrets and no one tried to walk off with Grandma’s antique vase. It was quite civilized and quiet. Everyone was polite, there were no kids (I missed them), and no one burned the rolls. I swear, it was almost like one of those Hallmark television Thanksgivings. The tables were gorgeous. My brother’s girlfriend makes beautiful centerpieces, so we had lovely flowers, delicious food, and I didn’t have to lift a finger.
We almost always have a side dish of crazy at our family gatherings. The more momentous the holiday, the greater the opportunity for someone to make a horse’s behind of themselves. If you get enough of us together for long enough, someone is going to wander off the reservation and need a little help finding their way back.
When we’re young, we’re a little embarrassed by the crazy gene that runs through almost every family. We have no perspective yet, so we think our family gathering is the only one where Sara Jane chooses Thanksgiving Day to tell the family she’s pregnant with twins, dropping out of college, and running off with that boy down the road who spits in public and picks his nose at stop lights, or Uncle Johnny repeats his gripe for the umpteenth time about how Cousin Bob cheated him out of a hundred bucks back in 1957, or Grandpa’s top denture flips and flops and clips and clops every time he says something. I’ll never forget the year Dad decided it’d be fun to tell H’s God-fearing, teetotaling, church-going parents an off-color joke about the Butterball turkey they were about to eat. But by the time you’re my age you just fly that crazy flag for all to see. You’re almost a little proud of it. You know, I bet my family can out crazy your family. That sort of thing.
If I must be completely honest, I’ve become so accustomed to the craziness that I’m amused by a little of it as long as I’m not directly involved. It’s kind of like watching someone throw knives between someone’s toes. It’s a little nerve-wracking, but if no one loses a digit, what’s the big deal?
But we were a little short on “the crazy” this year. No one accused anyone of anything unsavory, no one rehashed an old family feud, and no one drank too much. There wasn’t even wine. It was almost boring, except that the people were nice and the food was excellent and we were all healthy and together and all that. You can’t ever discount good health and good food and no one losing an eye. They’re all really important.
So if there was no drama and no craziness… then what, you ask?
That brings me to the accident and the incident.
First the incident.
H and I were lolling in bed and watching a movie. We’d gotten Dad to bed and were floating in that gentle, post turkey, tryptophan induced, somnolent place when we heard several thuds. We’d heard gunshots earlier in the evening, but had paid no attention. H had nonchalantly said, “Your cousin is at it again.” I shrugged and said, “It’s a holiday.”
Bunny is my Aunt Ruby’s 57-year-old, 6’4″ son who still lives with her. Calling a boy Bunny past the age of 4 is never a good idea. Aunt Ruby and Bunny live on the other side of a stand of woods between Dad’s house and theirs. He enjoys going out in his yard and shooting his gun on occasion. Bunny shooting off a gun on a holiday is no crazier in our family than eating cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving is in your family. H and I became so accustomed to Bunny’s shooting fetish when we lived with Dad that there’s not so much as a raised eyebrow between the two of us anymore. (I know you understand this Rootie)
Anyway, when H asked me what I thought the thud-like sounds were, I said, “Who, knows?” By this time both of us were suffering mightily from tryptophan impairment and decided to ignore it.
The next morning, H went out to get Dad’s paper. When he returned, he told me that he had discovered the source of the “thud sounds.” Someone had egged the house – obviously some idiot had confused the goblins, witches and demons holiday with the turkey bloat holiday. Of course, they could be on to a good idea. After all, who the heck can chase down an egg-throwing vandal when their drugged out of their minds on tryptophan?
Now the accident.
Keeping in mind the egg-throwing vandal and the fact that Dad believes people have been stealing from him, you may be able to understand my flawed thinking and unfortunate actions later in the day. I was in the kitchen when I heard a noise in the basement. Thinking it was H, I called downstairs, “H, is that you?”
I heard noises – rummaging around noises – moving-things-around noises…. or STEALING NOISES! For some never-to-be-known reason, I decided it would be a good idea for a 60-year-old woman to confront – possibly armed with eggs and God only knows what else – thieves who were trying to steal from an old man – her father.
As fast as I could, I ran full tilt down the basement steps to catch them red-handed, but I was in such a hurry to capture the dastardly egg-throwing thieves, I didn’t turn the light on first. I misjudged where the last step should have been. Okay, so it was more like the last three steps. I stepped out into the darkness with the confidence of a well-meaning but addlebrained warrior, believing with all my heart that I was going to step firmly on the basement floor.
Imagine my surprise when I stepped into the blackness of nothingness, catapulted through the air, banged into some shelves and bounced off Dad’s freezer before I came to rest on the hard, cold filth of a cement floor. I was stunned for a minute or so. I laid there in the darkness for a bit, cheek pressed against filth and coolness. It felt good. I was stunned, a little nauseated and disoriented. The coolness was soothing and I wanted to stay there forever. Then every bone in my body told my brain I was the one in my family who had unearthed the “crazy gene” on this Thanksgiving weekend. I’d dipped down deep and pulled it out by the scruff of its hairy little neck and made it my own.
Suddenly I heard,
“You forgot to turn the light on, didn’t you?”
It was H. He was the egg-throwing thief I’d heard.
I said, “Why didn’t you answer me when I called you?”
“I didn’t hear you. Why didn’t you turn the light on before you threw yourself down the stairs?”
So, how was your Thanksgiving?
No broken bones. Not even a bruise or scrape.