Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Day Before Thanksgiving 1999

I called home at 3:15 to check in on Eddie.

“Hello,” said Alice in her gravely voice, the residue of more than forty years of smoking cigarettes.

“Well, hi!” I said, expressing genuine surprise. “When did you get in?”

“Ten minutes ago,” she responded.

“Is Eddie home?”

“He just walked into the house.”

Then Alice asked if there was anything she could do to start the preparations for tomorrow’s feast. She specifically mentioned cutting up celery for the dressing. I told her I’d call JoAnna at work to see what needed to be done first. I ended up leaving her a voice mail message.

There was a pile of sliced celery stalks when I returned home. Alice and JoAnna were on the same wavelength.

But I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself.

JoAnna called me minutes before I left the library.

“Could you pick up some Karo dark syrup on your way home?”

“Sure. I was planning to stop at Sentry anyway. Andy wanted me to get some ranch dressing, the regular kind, and we also need some V-8 and cranberry juice.” Andy gave a big thumbs-down to the fat-free Hidden Valley Ranch that he poured over his salad the other night, complaining that it tasted like glue.

I also told her that I was planning to leave work early so I could get a haircut, my first since I shaved off my beard.

When I parked in front of Great Clips, I looked through the windows and saw at least four people sitting in chairs, paging through magazines, waiting for their names to be called.

Might be a bit of a wait, I thought.

I walked inside and approached the counter.

“How long is the waiting list?” I asked a woman who had just hung up the phone.

“About 20 minutes.”

I gave her my name and then drove to Sentry, where I found everything but the Karo syrup. There was an open space on the display shelf, with a little sign noting that the item was on sale. I guess a significant number of other households will be having pecan pie for dessert on Thanksgiving.

I didn’t think I’d have enough time to check the shelves at Kohl’s, another grocery store in the same area of Middleton. Good thinking. My name was called less than a minute after I returned to Great Clips.

As soon as I could see the tops of my ears again, the woman cutting my hair was called to the front counter. She received a delivery of flowers, an arrangement of a dozen roses, all of them a different color. Did my eyes deceive me or are there indeed that many different varieties of roses?

“It’s not my birthday,” she said as she placed the flowers on a neighboring counter.

“So what is the occasion?” I asked playfully.

“I don’t know. I have no idea who they’re from,” she replied and then picked up a pair of scissors and a comb and resumed her work.

“Am I taking enough off?” she asked about my haircut, which make me wonder if she was purposely trying to change the subject.

I studied my reflection in the large wall mirror. Even with my beard, having my hair cut short always made me look younger. “You could probably take off another half inch,” I suggested.

This “50” thing is getting me too obsessed with my appearance. My unspoken personal goal seems to be anything to look less than 40. I’m striving for Jack Benny’s eternal 39.

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