Gordon did a mean impression of Flip Wilson’s Geraldine. He did. I was always a sucker for a guy that could make me laugh. We were in sixth grade together and he was, of course he was, the class clown. He was a bit pudgy, had dark almost black hair, and big brown eyes. He was taller than me – another trait I like in a romantic partner. In sixth grade, it was hard come to find a boy my age that was taller than me.
We were stationed at Camp Lejeune but living in town. I was at a civilian school made up, primarily, of military brats. Jacksonville was a very small town with absolutely nothing but 40,000 Marines. My dad referred to it as the armpit of the world.
I play a wicked mean blues air guitar. Usually after one drink too many. I almost always say upon such occasions, “I could do it if I just knew how.” And I could. I really could. I’m convinced of it. So convinced of it, Santa asked me what I wanted one year and I said, “A guitar.”
Santa brought me a whole kit. Case, stand, picks, tuners, Guitar for Dummies, and other assorted accessories.
I couldn’t tune the damn thing. Tried and tried. I have a good ear, but I can’t figure out how to get the strings to the tension required. I turn the little screws things this way and that to no avail. I use the electronic tuner. I don’t think I’m doing it right.
In desperation, I cleaned my house and invited a musician friend and his wife to dinner. Told him he not only had to sing for his supper, he had to tune my guitar.
He did. He declared it not bad for a cheapie.
After they left, I tried some chords. Damn it’s hard. My old hands may be too arthritic to learn new muscle movements.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There is no gift giving, No real decorating to speak of unless you are Martha Stewart. Martha Stewart and I share a birthday. That’s about all we share.
I love Thanksgiving.
I cooked my first turkey when I was 15 or so. I wanted to learn. Easy peasy. Even bad turkey is good. I learned how to make gravy from the giblets. I already knew how to make bread and Grandma Emma’s chocolate bottom pie. I always have fresh cranberries for my mother. Roasted asparagus for my brother. Squash with sausage for my dad when he was still alive as well as cornbread dressing and regular dressing. In fact, dressing may be my favorite.
Of course, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. And Brussel sprouts. I vow each year to add corn pudding but haven’t yet. It’s already two full days of cooking and I’m getting old. There will be wine and everyone’s favorite soft beverage.
I was gifted with the experience of living in Hawaii for three years. I was 7 when we moved there and 10 when we left. I did not then realize what I had been given. I guess I thought everyone lived in paradise, but simultaneously I also knew I had lived somewhere special.
We left on January 10, 1970. It’s funny that I remember that date. Our last act in Hawaii was to go to the bank and withdraw all our money. While at the bank, my brother and I got on one another’s nerves. I poked him. He kicked me. And tore a hole in the lace of my very “gourmet” dress. I was incensed. I was quite the fan of the Galloping Gourmet, a television cooking show hosted by Graham Kerr who was more often than not drunk. Gourmet was the highest praise I could give anything.
Hawaii was gourmet.
We arrived in San Francisco a week later via ocean liner. The crossing had been rocky and my mother was inflicted with horrific sea sickness. My brother and I had been left to our own devices for the most part and had the run of the ship. I remember bits and pieces of that sailing, but the memories are not vivid like some of my memories of Hawaii. My mother describes disembarking in San Francisco as being like the Wizard of Oz in reverse. We went from technicolor to black and white.
I always vowed to go back, but not until I could do so with grace and style. Hawaii is horrifically expensive if one isn’t lucky enough to live in military housing with access to the commissary – the military’s grocery store.