Friday, November 26, 2004

I Ate. Therefore, I Groan

The day after Thanksgiving is a heavy day at our house. Nothing moves. It is like a battlefield, complete with carcass. Posthumous honors to you, Gunga Turkey.

The job of the holiday is the promotion of social discourse through gluttony. Stuff your face, mumble something about sports, politics or sex and ask for more. Stuff, mumble, ask. Stuff, mumble, ask. Stuff, mumble, ask.

Such a meal in such a country as ours is like going up to a high place and staring at the city or the countryside. It is a shared view. I once read that the construction of the Eiffel Tower produced feelings of solidarity among the Parisians. People were somehow impressed by the fact that so many were seeing the city in the same way in concert. So it is with our great holiday Thanksgiving. Stuff, mumble, ask. We are one people.

I did commit a faux pas. For all the best reasons, I gave up smoking my beloved cigars several years ago, but this holiday I bought a box of Don Diegos, figuring my smoking a few and giving away the rest would do no harm, probably wouldn't be the biochemical tipping point that would push me into disease. I had been planning a fine after-dinner cigar all week. Time came. I offered the cigars around, had one other taker, pulled the cellophane, clipped the ends, fired up the lighter and only then asked if anyone objected. This was pretty much pro forma. I respect -- I applaud! -- all the homes here in California where smoking is forbidden. During my lifetime, I have seen the tipping of that point, the change from smoking as a right to smoking as a shame, so that smokers are timid and abashed, asking permission to smoke outside your house as a flasher might ask permission to stand in your yard opening his raincoat to passing school children.

But this is my house, smoke-free month after pristine month. Not yesterday, however. I asked only to be given permission. At that point, I learned that two of our friends hate, really and with great and specific focus, hate tobacco smoke. It was the moment for the great and gracious gesture, either delicately stubbing out that very first glow, the burgeoning fire, or -- if I were in the mood for the fine gesture -- crushing the darn cigar to shreds in the ashtray, showing not only appreciation for my friends but momentary if hypocritical solidarity.

Well, hehhehheh. No I did not. The long draw of the mild smoke, quickly (very very quickly) followed by the exit of the friends.

Thanksgiving is all about friendship except when it isn't.


Anonymous said...

You should've kicked them so hard on their way out the door they'd be farting through their collars today.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

Punt our dear friends? Of course not, particularly when it wasn't necessary, since they were exiting the premises at slightly faster than the speed of smoke.