An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Thanksgiving Part II

We left Waynesboro Thursday morning and headed north for Starkville again. We were only in town for an hour or so before setting off for Missouri, where Thanksgiving dinner was to take place on Friday evening, instead of Thursday.

My parents (dad and step-mother) drove in their Lincoln while the wife, I and my sister took my Malibu. Before leaving, Dad asked how fast we wanted to drive, as he was taking lead. We agreed that 5 mph over the limit would be good, as there were going to be many troopers out then. Dad then proceeded to drive 1 mph under the limit all the way to Tupelo.

In Tupelo, we flashed our lights and pulled over to the side of the road after Dad seemingly missed the turn to Memphis. He explained he intended to continue north on Hwy 45 through Corinth, MS and on up to Dyersburg, TN on the way to Missouri. We opted to head up I-78 to Memphis, which is a far faster trip.

"Oh, sure. We'll see who gets there first," Dad said in a tone that suggested it was a forgone conclusion that he and my step-mother would be the winners.

We laughed and took off at a good 10 mph over the limit.

In Memphis, we missed the bypass loop around the city and wound up plowing through it on I-78 proper. At one point we crossed the loop again and the wife, who was driving, turned on the ceiling light of the car so she and Alison could consult our atlas to see if we needed to go back. We did. In the process of turning around to go back to it, though, we wound up in a very questionable neighborhood where there wasn't a great place to turn around. The whole situation made me nervous. I didn't like the idea of driving around in a bad neighborhood with our interior light lit illuminating us as the atlas scanning lost idiots we were. The wife seemed oblivious to all this. She pulled off the bad side street we were already on onto a potentially worse one (or at the very least, deeper into the questionable neighborhood) and then up into an empty lot. She thought the lot's driveway looped back around to the street, but it turned out not to be a driveway in the first place, let alone one with a looping road. The lot was also rather junky. I was worried that we would run over a glass bottle and have a flat. We were not in the sort of neighborhood in which I wished to have a flat at night. I tried very hard to keep my cool, but our situation kept getting worse and I couldn't help groaning about it. I reached up and turned off the interior light, but the wife immediately turned it back on and stopped at the next intersection, STILL in the bad neighborhood, to spread the atlas open once again. My sister, sensing and sharing my nervousness, suggested we get out of the neighborhood before we broke out the maps, so the wife drove on. Now, chances are we were never in any real danger, but I'm a fairly paranoid person when it comes to the potential death of me and my family and tend to insist on avoiding behavior that MIGHT get us killed and or injured.

We arrived at my grandmother's house in Missouri a good hour ahead of my parents and had lots of fun rubbing that in their faces. My dad gave us the bird.

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The wife's first Thanksgiving with my family went pretty well. No major arguments broke out and good food was had by all. Her only complaint was the smoke. My extended family consists of one part militant chain-smokers, one part reformed militant chain-smokers and one part semi-militant, usually uncomplaining non-smokers. The wife and I fall into the latter category. We spent most of the weekend trying to avoid the more smoky areas while gamely tolerating our burning lungs and reddened eyes as best we could.

Other than that, my family was my family. Most of them I've not seen in a year and a half, some longer than that. It was a good visit over all.

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We wound up leafing through photo albums there too. In fact, there are considerably more photo albums at my grandmother's house, as my grandfather was a habitual photographer. At one point we found a strange photo featuring a child none of us could readily identify. I brought the photo around to everyone who came in to see if any of them knew.

"See, there's Pam, Little Steve, me, Uncle Chuck, Jason, Cameron and then... mystery child."

The truly strange part, though, was that the child LOOKED as if he was a member of the family. He looked a little bit like a cross between me and one of my other cousins, in fact. But we didn't have another cousin that he could possibly be. All available candidates were either far too old or far too young. For a while, we toyed with the idea that this was a photo that fell through into our world from an alternate reality, in which my mother hadn't had a miscarriage between my and my sister's births.

We then accused my Uncle John of inserting a photo he'd digitally doctored, since that is one of his many talents with computers. He claimed he didn't do it, but we all agreed that it would have made a fantastic prank. Just go borrow someone's family photo album, scan in the pictures, digitally insert strangers into them and take it back. Oh the trouble I could get into.

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