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Thanks For Nothing!

 by Jon F. Merz (jonmerz@wwwiz.com)

           When my doorbell rang that rainy evening a week ago, the last thing I expected to see was a grown man dressed in a make-shift turkey suit complete with bright cardboard feathers jutting out of his waistband at odd angles.

          ``Halloween was last month," I said by way of greeting.

          Leo, a well-meaning if not bizarre friend of mine, frowned under his makeup.  ``I'm getting into the Thanksgiving spirit."

          I pointed to his tail. ``You're wilting, turkey boy."

          After more pleasantries, I invited Leo in to dry his plumage and explain what he was really up to. If experience had taught me nothing else, it was that Leo always had some interesting life goals.  He didn't look this strange without good reason.

          ``I'm determined to make this a great holiday," he said.  ``I didn't have a very good year."

          He was right.  If you recall reading about his July 4th debacle and equally frustrating Valentine's Day some issues back, you'll understand why it was important to cheer the poor guy up.  I offered my help.

          Reluctantly.

          ``Glad to hear it," said Leo.  ``Can you fire up that fancy new iBook you just bought?"

          ``Sure.  Where to?"

          ``I need a hatchet. A good hatchet."

          I was already regretting my offer of help but found a few sites for Leo.  He settled on one at http://www.fine-tools.com/grans.htm, and ordered himself a top-line new hatchet made by Swedish blacksmiths in the old tradition of fine tools. It cost him 112 Deutsch Marks.

          ``Expensive hatchet," I said.

          ``Well worth the price," said Leo, handing me his adamantium credit card,  ``for what we'll be using it for."

          `` `We?' "

          Leo grinned.  ``Jump over to http://www.hammsoasis.com/ and you'll see."

          As soon as the page filled the screen, I knew exactly what Leo wanted to do:  hunt and kill his own turkey for Thanksgiving this year.  And use his brand new Swedish hatchet to butcher it with.

          ``See?  Seasonal hunts for only $150 per day."

          ``It says two person minimum, Leo."

          Leo smiled at me.

          I was liking this less and less.  Travel around Thanksgiving is the worst of the year.  And getting stuck in rural Oklahoma on a turkey hunt when I could be at home watching a football game and eating a nice store- or farm-bought turkey did not overwhelm me.  I told Leo so.

          ``How about North Dakota then?  We could go to http://www.state.nd.us/gnf/docs/fallturkey.html and check out the hunts."

          But I wasn't buying it. Hunting in the woods breaks Jon's First Rule of Survival:  Never waste time and energy trying to kill something you can get on sale at a supermarket.

          Leo sighed. ``Slacker.  I've got all these great recipes for unusual stuffing, too."

          ``Unusual?"

          ``Well, the corn bread and andouille sausage stuffing at http://www.bmacards.com/eng3/jimmy/recipe.html#SELF1 sounded pretty good."

          ``Sausage?  Isn't that overkill with two meats?"

          ``How about sourdough and apple stuffing?  Check out http://www.foxfamilychannel.com/kitchen/recipe11_16.htm."

          ``That doesn't sound very unusual."

          Leo pointed to the browser.  ``Try Creole stuffing from Argentina.  It's got olives, veal and pork in it.  Go to http://www.recipeland.com/c/creole_stuffing.html."

          Olives have never won me over so I quickly redirected us tohttp://www.garvick.com/recipes98m/12-turkey_stuffing.htm where they have a great stuffing recipe more in line with my tradition.

          ``So you won't go hunting with me?"

          I reminded him that the closest he'd come to firing a gun was the water pistol game at the annual rip-'em-off carnival in which he had never won anything other than a cheap mirror with REO Speedwagon emblazoned across the frosted glass.  That brought him back down, but only for a minute.

          ``You never hear anything about Thanksgiving songs...other than that Grandmother's house one."

          ``You mean `Over the River'?"

          ``Yeah, that one."

          I pointed us to http://www.night.net/thanksgiving/s-over-river.html-ssi where Leo could read the lyrics to this classic ditty and then jumped us over to http://www.96.cyberhost.net/perpetua/thanks_songs.html where amateur songwriters try to add verses to other songs.  My personal favorite was the Thanksgiving rap located at http://www.frivolity.com/teatime/Songs_and_Poems/thanksgiving_rap.html.  Somehow I don't see it being rerecorded by Cypress Hill any time soon.

          ``So, what are you going to do this Thanksgiving?" Leo asked.

          I pointed at the browser. ``Try this site on for size: http://www.rats2u.com/thanksgiving/thanksgiving_events.htm, you'll find a lot of stuff to occupy your mind about the holiday.  They've got history, tradition and recipes.  And see here?  Football links."

          ``You're going to watch football all day?"

          ``Of course not.  I'm going to eat at least three helpings of a huge meal, spend time with family and friends, and then drift off into what I like to call a `food coma' while watching television."

          Leo grinned.  ``I suppose we ought to be thankful we can do that, huh?"

          ``I'll be especially thankful I didn't let you talk me into going to Oklahoma or North Dakota."

          ``Well," said Leo, ``I'm going hunting."

          ``I thought you decided against it."

          ``I did.  I'm not talking about turkey."

          ``What then?"

          He pointed to his cardboard feathers.  ``First, I need some new construction paper and more make-up.  Then I'll need a willing accomplice to help me belt out that cool rap song door-to-door."

          ``Door-to-door?"

          ``Yep.  You interested?"

          ``I don't think my singing voice is something many people will be thankful for."

          ``Oh, they'll be thankful all right."

          ``They will?"

          Leo smiled. ``Yeah.  Especially when we stop."

          ``Leo, you want me to dress up like a turkey and sing in public?"

          ``No.  I'm the turkey.  You get to be the hunter."

          I looked at him and smiled.  ``Just one thing, then."

          ``What's that?"

          ``Can I borrow your hatchet?"

                      Jon F. Merz (zrem@earthlink.net) freelances from Boston, Mass., where he writes for APBNews.com, Guyville.com and more.  His past articles have appeared in World Rhythm Magazine, Ura & Omote Journal, and Wcities.com.  He has also published two dozen short stories in various national and small press magazines.

  

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