Thursday, November 22

The Cat-astrophe of the Infamous One-legged Turkey


It was just another routine Thanksgiving Day. We had planned to sleep in (only a little), have breakfast, roast a wonderous 25 pound bird, and take said gobbler to the home of DL’s (my wife at that time) parents for a grand feast later that afternoon. Everything was going exactly as planned – until, that is, we awakened.

DL beat me out of bed and started down the stairs. Halfway down, she let out a scream that brought me running. A loud hissing sound could be heard and DL was certain we had a big gas leak – one of her greatest fears. I sped toward the kitchen to investigate, stopping only when my bare feet found the small lake in the dining room. Not a gas leak, but water; coming from…where? Following the flowing water upstream through a back hallway I soon discovered the source. Somehow, during the night, our aggressively playful felines had dislodged the supply tubing to a toilet.

As I turned off the supply valve I heard the second scream of the morning. DL had entered the kitchen.

Checking the turkey the previous evening, we had deduced two things: (1) it was pretty much frozen solid, in spite of having been “thawing” in the refridgerator for four days, and (2) it probably wasn’t going to undergo a miraculous change from its present state by morning. I placed it in the sink, filled the sink with cool water, and proceeded to booby-trap the area with an assortment of pots, pans, and baking sheets. The latter step was to protect the next day’s guest of honor from untoward advances of the aforementioned cats. I figured that if this assemblage of metal objects did not sufficiently fortify the turkey’s position, any breach would surely cause a tremendous racket certain to repel the invaders and alarm the cavalry sleeping upstairs. The reader may reasonably ask what I had been smoking to arrive at such a conclusion.

What DL had discovered was that during the night our previously beloved kitties, responding to their sixth sense – curiosity – had meticulously and very silently moved the baking sheets just enough to expose one leg so as to indulge four of their five other senses. After sight, touch, smell, and taste were adequately sated, only a bare bone protruding from the plastic wrap encasing the mutilated carcass bore mute testimony to the evening’s repast.

Fortune smiled on the grimalkins; there were two many other pressing matters demanding our attention; the triple feline execution would have to wait. Every towel in the house was employed in a valiant effort to save the dining room’s hardwood floor. I called my partner, R, for the phone number of a mutual friend with a janitorial service; I was soon on my way to procure the loan of a wet/dry vac. By the time I returned with that precious appliance, DL had pre-heated the oven, started to prepare the cinnamon rolls for baking, and welcomed the arrival of my partner and his thoughtful gift of an armload of champagne. Corks were popped, glasses filled and emptied, and the business of the morning continued.

R went to work with the shop vac. DL baked the rolls and kept glasses filled. I amputated the gobbler’s maimed appendage, prepared the bird for roasting, and got it into the oven with the cinnamon rolls. While I located a company that would come over to pick up our water-soaked Karastan dining room rug (a holiday miracle!), R finished the clean-up and DL retrieved the rolls from the oven. We opened yet more champagne. The cats purred as they witnessed this hubbub of activity. It was now 10:30. The day was back on track. All was right with the world. Sure.

R left to join friends and family. DL checked the turkey’s progress from time to time, commenting that it didn’t seem to be getting brown yet. I replied, in my vast wisdom, that it would get brown later in the roasting process, asking for her patience on this trying morning. When she finally prevailed on me to actually check the bird, I found…a cold carcass in a cold oven. The oven had apparently been turned off when the cinnamon rolls were removed therefrom. Did I mention that we had been drinking just a little bit?

The day’s third scream was followed by the sound of footsteps rapidly ascending the stairs. I found DL in bed, covers pulled over her head. “Don’t bother me until tomorrow!” I vowed we would be at her parents’ with the turkey – done! - on time. How, I did not know.

Returning downstairs, I found two open bottles of bubbly left on the kitchen counter. It is unwritten law in this household that once opened, champagne must be consumed. Besides, there was work to be done. I fired the oven up to 500 degrees and proceeded to baste our Thanksgiving beast every fifteen minutes or glass of champagne, whichever came first. The hot oven (and perhaps the influence of the alcohol) led to a rather nasty burn during the basting process. I could hear the cats laughing.

We eventually showed up about ten minutes late with the most beautiful one-legged turkey you ever saw. Everyone remarked on the wonderfully seasoned, moist meat. Even DL managed a smile or two as we regaled all those assembled with our saga. All’s well that ends well…right?

Not quite. The day’s true disaster did not rear its ugly head for another two weeks. I had not yet heard from the rug cleaners. They had come promptly after I called. I had helped them load the rolled-up rug into their truck. They would call when it was ready. No problem…except I couldn’t remember whom I had called and in the pandemonium of the morning I had not thought to request a receipt. I called every service in the phone book and was told by all that they did not have my rug. When I called my insurance agent to report the loss of a $1500 rug, I was informed that they “do not insure stupidity”. An expensive rug gone forever, but worth every penny if only as a footnote to the story of my most memorable Thanksgiving.

8 comments:

Miz Minka said...

Goodness!!! I hope yesterday was better than that nightmare of a turkey day.

Dan Martins said...

So...did you ever get around to the triple feline execution? I certainly hope so!

A Square Peg said...

I know where I am going for Thanksgiving next year! Not only for the laughs but for the bubbly!

unklephil said...

MM - Thursday was wonderful; didn't have to cook. Just took wine to the party. Do I detect a trend here?

Dan - Sad to admit they all died of natural causes (if in one case you can call a speeding car - not mine - something "natural").

ASP - You are more than welcome to join us. Bring bubbly; leave any felines at home.

catsinger said...

...the highlight of the "dramatic reading" of your story by MM ,[ and it WAS dramatic...] on Thanksgiving to those present [Catsinger & Mr Greenthumb], was Mr Greenthumb's unusually loud & astonished exclamation to me,"...and this all happened next door to you ?"...all I could do was shrug my shoulders and say, " I 'm at a loss, I was always at Mom's and never home on Thanksgiving..."

unklephil said...

Cs: This all happened in the house next to the one that is presently yours, three owners previously. 1980-1982? I think I've contracted an advanced case of MM's dreaded "senioritis".

catsinger said...

...well, that clears up that mystery...and I hope the senioritis is not too bad, since we are the same "vintage"...[a word, perhaps , more appropriately applied to you than moi...hee,hee. I'm sure Mr Greenthumb will be relieved to find out I wasn't that "unconscious", just didn't live there yet...I did ,however live at "Oak & Baker" then...really not too far, and passed your house everyday on my way to work at "VOPU" [see blog on 11/27 if you can't figure that out...]

DL said...

It was the worst of times....It WAS the best of times. It was the entire ground floor standing in a foot of water. Praying the moment the oven was turned on I didn't become and electrocuted crispy critter. It was the Mother in Law's turkey she didn't trust us to prepare for her inlaws..no pressure there...
It was before prozac, and if not for the bubbly, and the quick side stepping of a loving husband I would have spent that Thanksgivng dragging a one legged, cold, naked turkey around the local crisis center mumbling to myself....
DL