Tuesday, December 02, 2003


Perhaps the strangest thing about my Thanksgiving this year was my spontaneous fixation on the idea of turducken: a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey. It's not as though I'd never heard of it (although I was surprised to find that Hamilton had not). But for some reason I became insanely curious about the whole grotesque concept, and tracked down information on how to create the monstrosity. Kind of makes you want to blow up your own oven, assuming you have one that actually works. (I don't.) Allegedly, the turducken has now evolved into the pigturducken (a turducken stuffed inside a hog), the osterducken (yes, stuffed into an ostrich), and what has to be a joke or an urban legend, the stuffed camel. It's all enough to make me lose my appetite, but do check out the "Turducken Song" and this amusing anti-turducken rant.

Now I can get on with my life.

As I said last time, I had plans to spend Thanksgiving with a semi-famous person whom I've admired for years. That allusion was to a prominent novelist, Eric, that Hamilton is now dating. I read Eric's novel back in high school and loved it. (The book, that is--not, God knows, high school.) I even cited his work as an influence several years ago in my creative thesis. So it was somewhat surreal to be invited to Thanksgiving dinner by a writer I've long admired but never met.

I felt slightly intimidated going into the situation, not so much because of Eric's literary reputation, but due to the fact that I was the only one representing on Hammy's side, whereas three of Eric's friends would be in attendance. Terrible visions of an awkward holiday spent as the odd man out raced through my mind. When I stepped into the apartment building, one of the nicest I've set foot in since I arrived in Manhattan (I somehow tend to frequent slums), the apprehension only grew stronger.

Thankfully, I needn't have worried. Eric, although fairly reserved, was a lovely host, and his friends were quite welcoming; after twenty minutes or so I was right in the thick of the conversation. At some point in the evening it occurred to me that I don't think I'd ever really been to a dinner party in my entire year and a half living in Manhattan. The realization made me a little sad.

Hammy made most of the dinner; everyone else contributed something. My cranberry salad was a big hit, but all the food was great, the conversation flowed as freely as the alcohol, and by the end of the night we had all made fools of ourselves playing Celebrity. (I found myself staring at my literary influence as he flapped his arms like wings and grabbed his crotch.) Being with these mature, intelligent, witty people, I had an aching sense of what I've so sorely missed in my fumblings for human connection here.

I hope I'll be invited back.

We all trooped outside around 11:00 to hail a cab, leaving Hammy and Eric to walk their dogs together. And seeing that Ham was happy with this guy, I enveloped my dear old friend in a big hug, reminded both of how much I love him and of how much I want him to be happy. For all of us to be happy. Then I clambered after the others into the cab, swallowing the tinges of jealousy toward what Ham had found, along with the sadness that such petty feelings are always engineered to obscure.