Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Now, the sight of a roasted turkey, with no head, getting up and shaking a fist was weird enough. But watching it grab one of the nearby carving knives and taking a dueler's stance took it to a whole new level of silliness.
Even before Uncle Nathan reached for the other carving knife, the rest of us automatically took several steps backwards, away from the table. We all knew what was coming and didn't feel like getting caught in the middle of what was undoubtedly going to be a memorable battle. Man and roast bird saluted each other with their weapons, followed by each taking a dueling stance.
"I knew I should've left you in the oven for another ten minutes, you over-sized chicken," Uncle Nathan grunted, while parrying an attack.
The turkey, unable to speak, merely flipped him the bird in return. Then it retreated across the table and waved its backside at him.
Looking properly offended, Uncle Nathan muttered, "Oooo... I'm going cram an onion the size of a bowling ball in you for that."
Our intended dinner responded by making the 'Bring it,' gesture.
Leaping up onto the table Uncle Nathan rushed towards his opponent across the length of the table and their carving knives clashed once again.
For the next minute, man and dinner, battled across the table in a remarkably silly yet athletic duel, while managing to avoid knocking over candelabras or glasses, or even stepping on a plate or utensil.
I glanced over at Dr. Jack and my father who were both shaking there heads and trying to suppress smiles, as their wives gave each other resigned sighs. Meanwhile Joe and Darlene, who hang out with me at school, are both enjoying the spectacle as much as I am.
Finally, my mother steps forward and puts her hands on her hips. Then she yells, "No feet on the dinner table!"
Both bird and man freeze in mid-fight. The two of them stare at her for a moment and then take very guilty stances and point at each other. "He started it," Uncle Nathan murmured, while his opponent took advantage of the moment to slap the knife out of his hand.
Immediately, our host, did a double-back flip off the table and retreatede behind the nearby harp. His opponent beat its breast in triumph and leapt after him, waving its weapon angrily. Now began a game of cat and mouse, with Uncle Nathan using the harp as a shield. At first the roast bird, tried chasing him around the harp, then it tried to stab at him through the strings, which proved to be a mistake.
Uncle Nathan kicked the weapon out of its grip and then pushed the harp down on top of the bird. The strings of the harp sliced through the bird, leaving it carved in pieces on the floor.
Straightening up, Uncle Nathan looked at his handiwork and shook his head. "Wow, the guy at the butcher shop told this bird might be a little tough, and he wasn't kidding. Okay, who wanted white meat?" he asked turning towards us.
Naturally no one spoke. We all just glared at him.
"Oh come on, how many times do you get to have dinner and a show?" he insisted.
At this point I saw the green mist slipping out from the remains of our 'dinner' and into the cuffs of his pants and knew what was really going on. Stepping over to where the harp lay I took a close look at the 'remains' and saw the that the bird had actually been made of foam, covered in latex and painted to look like a roast turkey skin.
"You didn't get a turkey did you?" I said pointedly.
Uncle Nathan bowed his head and said, "They were all sold out by the time I got back this morning."
"This morning?" I cried in disbelief. "Where were you?"
"I was out of town, sort of..." he began, when a loud boisterous voice, with a thick German accent, rang out from the area of the kitchen saying, "Happy Thanks-Pizza everyone!"
A moment later, a short stocky man with a greying beard and moustache appeared pushing a cart with the biggest pizza I'd ever seen on it. He was wearing a chef's hat and moving around so quickly, it took me a moment to recognize him. His name was Professor Otto Hofstadter, and he was one of Uncle Nathan's closest and oldest friends. They'd known each other for years, according to Uncle Nathan, but there was always something about the way he said it that had made me wonder if there was more that he was not telling me. But now was not the time to ask questions. Dinner had arrived and everyone was starving.
My mother shook her head as we all sat down around the table and said, "Well, it might not be a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, but at least we'll all be eating well."
"On the contrary, my dear," the professor corrected as he and Uncle Nathan started serving huge pizza slices. "I made sure that we used turkey sausage as part of the toppings."
"Oh well, that makes all the difference," said Dr. Jack as he helped pass the food around to those farthest from the pie.
A part of me wanted to ask where they'd gotten an oven big enough to cook a pizza this size, but I decided not to. I was more interested in knowing where Uncle Nathan had been and what had kept him away all this time. The fact that Professor Hofstadter was with us, told me that an adventure had taken place in one of those strange places Uncle Nathan has always hinted at, but has never fully explained to me.
I decided there and then that I was going to keep a close eye on those two and maybe follow them if possible and see what they got up to when the next opportunity presented itself.
Saturday, November 21, 2015
I think everyone has memories of certain holiday gatherings that they'll never forget. Usually it's because something really special or very unfortunate happened. But how many of us can say they'll never forget a certain Thanksgiving dinner because the host wound up fighting a duel with the intended dinner?
Well that's what happened this year and I don't think I'll even need to watch the video I took of it, to help me remember. However, I will be saving it to show any children or grandchildren I have down the road, so they can see what craziness can ensue when you let Uncle Nathan try to prepare a holiday dinner.
It all started about a week ago, right after Mom gave birth to my new baby brother Geoffrey. I was on hand for the event, while Dad and Uncle Nathan stayed in the Waiting Room. Mom had given strict instructions that neither of them were allowed to be on hand to watch. In fact part of my job was to make sure they didn't come in.
I asked Doctor Jack about it later and all he did was smirk and mumble something about a Dr. Quackenbush and associate, who had been on hand to help keep the patient relaxed. The name sounded familiar to me so I Googled it afterwards on my laptop and found it was one of Groucho Marx's personas from a movie called "A Day At the Races". Apparently, he'd played a veterinarian who also treated a rich woman as one of his patients. Having seen Uncle Nathan's Groucho impression I could only imagine what kind of nonsense he and Dad must've gotten up to inside the delivery room that day until Mom ordered the two of them out.
Anyway, right after Geoffrey arrived, Uncle Nathan offered to host Thanksgiving over at The Crypt. "Between late night feedings and changing diapers I don't think any of you are going to be up to shopping and prepping a big meal," he pointed out.
Needless to say, none of us disagreed with him. He even invited Dr. Jack and his family to join the festivities, which my favorite physician readily agreed to. We didn't see or hear from Uncle Nathan again for the rest of the week, which made my parents wonder if dinner was still on. Then last night he phoned to let us know he'd been called away to help his old friend, Professor Otto Hofstadter, with a little 'problem' which they'd successfully resolved, and that we were still expected the next day at 5:00 PM.
Needless to say we left the house today and headed downtown. Once we reached the building that housed The Crypt, we headed down the side alley where the stairs leading down to The Crypt awaited. Dr. Jack and his family were just heading down the steps when we showed up and after the usual Thanksgiving greetings were exchanged, we all carefully made our way down the steps. The door at the bottom was unlocked so we let ourselves in only to have our breaths taken away.
As usual, Uncle Nathan had really gone all out with decorating the place. There was a huge table that could seat a couple of dozen people just on one side, in the center of the main room. It was all decked out with candles, plates,fancy napkins, the works. There was also a very expensive looking harp nearby, which meant we would probably be treated to some fine music afterwards. As we all gazed around in wonder, I couldn't believe he'd gone to so much trouble just for us, but I was glad at the same time. "This was going to be one of the most memorable Thanksgiving dinners ever," I breathed aloud, while everyone nodded in agreement.
Uncle Nathan appeared a moment later, wearing a white apron and a big chef's hat. After greeting each of us, he got everyone settled in and disappeared back to the kitchen area. We were all excited and eager to see what he had prepared for us. A moment later, he came back out carrying a huge glimmering silver platter. Naturally it had a very shiny lid which was rather tall, leaving us all wondering how big a turkey he had gotten for the occasion. However, knowing his sense of humor, I I half expected it to be a very small bird no bigger than a pigeon, But much to my surprise and delight, when the cover was removed, there was indeed a very large bird on the platter.
After running back into the kitchen and returning with more dishes, he removed his hat and apron, and proceeded to brandish a very large fork, which he deftly sank into the turkey. Only to have the bird jump up, remove the fork from itself and then waved an angry fist at him.