Myles Standish, Captain of the Mayflower, is responsible for holiday stress.
In August, he invited Indians to a Labor Day party, got them so shitfaced that they revealed where wild turkeys hung out. Promising more firewater, he conned them into showing Pilgrim women how to grow, harvest and cook maze, squash, pumpkins, turnips and Boston Baked Beans.
By the middle of November, Myles was thinking, PAR-TAY!
Picture this: Captain Standish is relaxing on his horsehair couch reading Julius Caesar aloud, mooning over Priscilla Alden and watching football. (Pilgrims vs. Indians).
His wife, Barbara, is in the kitchen thinking about wringing his neck instead of the fifty-pound-turkey. Overwhelmed by twenty sacks of potatoes to mash and pumpkins the size of wagon wheels to pick and cook, she's seriously ticked. Her experimental spaghetti squash exploded during the summer and her zukes grew to the size of Labrador Retrievers. She has wheat to thrash and dough to rise and roll. The colossal turkey has eighty-five pellets in its butt, because Myles introduced the Indians to firepower as well as firewater. They got trigger happy.
Preparing for the first ever Thanksgiving feast, Barbara mutters to herself while quivering all over like a jellyfish.
“What was Myles thinking when he invited all of the Indians to eat with us? Would it have killed him to ask me first? He expects me to entertain those strange people dressed in animal skins? Gimme a freakin’ break.”
Baby Lora is walking now; son Charles is into teenage angst, and young Myles is all about looking up girls’ skirts. Big Myles stretches out on the horsehair and muses.
“Husband,” Barbara shouts above Baby Lora’s wailing. “Pu-leese stop your musing and come help me with the food.”
He stomps into the dirt-floor kitchen. “I hate it when you make me stop thinking what I was thinking, Babs."
“What are ya, blind? I’m knee-deep in unshucked maze and pumpkins that need to be stewed. Dirty dishes are piled up, Baby Lora messed up her last clean nappy and you're mooning over Priscilla. She married somebody else, Myles. Get over it.”
Like a Fifteenth Century Mr. Clean, Myles crosses his arms and spreads his legs. “Blimey! It's Disaster City in here. Other than whining, what on earth have you been doing? Company's coming, like ... today?”
The baby screams, the zukes continue to grow faster than the speed of light and the sweet potato pies bubbling over in the oven are making the house smell similar to Baby Lora’s messy nappy.
“What, pray tell, is so difficult about cooking enough food to feed a small continent? What else would you be doing with your day?”
Her eyes dart around the kitchen for something sharp. “I’m hormonal, Myles. Maybe I would be in my room taking a nap. Maybe I would leave instructions for you to wake me up in 1776 in time for the Fourth of July fireworks.”
“Are you daft, woman? What is this nonsense you speak?”
She spies a knife under a sixty-pound zuchinni and sidles over to it. Little Lora screams bloody murder. A vague smile crosses Barbara’s lips as she focuses on the bad-tempered, albeit intrepid Mayflower Captain.
“Myles,” Barbara croons, “You invited the entire Wampanoag Nation here for dinner. Why did you do that?”
“There you go exaggerating, Babs. Dr. Phil calls that non-productive behavior.”
“Do not,” Barbara snarls, “repeat, do not speak to me about non-productive behavior. I push my tush while you sit around and muse.”
He sighs. “There you go again.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” She tugs at the knife under the seriously heavy zucchini.
“It's a reminder that the entire nation is not coming over for dinner. Only the families of Squanto, Samoset and Chief Yellow Feather.”
Barbara hides the knife within the folds of her grease-spattered skirt. “Husband, do I dare ask how many family members the savages will bring with them?”
Myles lights up a cheroot and blows out a smoke ring. “No more than ninety, I should think. What? Why the long face? Is entertaining a few of my friends too much to ask? I have a colony to run, you know.”
“Ninety people? Ninety? Are you are out of your freaking gourd? Who is going to look after your wild offspring, do the laundry, cook the stinkin’ pumpkins and clean up this house? Do I look like Martha Stewart?”
"Babs, what we have here is a failure to communicate. You're missing the magnitude of creating a tradition. Seriously, what would you rather be doing?”
“I'd rather you pummel me to the ground with a twenty-pound sack of flour until I pass out, Myles.”
“Now, now. There's no need to get your bloomers in a bunch over a little dinner party. Chill. Call the Butterball Hot Line. Next to turkeys, they know all about holiday stress.”
Barbara stares. “Silly me. Why didn’t I think of that? Perhaps they’ll send over a wagon train of cooked food and an army of people to serve it.”
“Babs, Babs, Babs. The Butterball Hot Line was designed to help you through holiday angst, not spoil you rotten.”
“Myles, this might be a good time to tell you that I have a raging case of PMS, a migraine and I'm holding a sharp knife. I am on my last nerve and I don’t give a flying fig about the Butterball people.”
“Hey! Don’t go all nuterootie on me.”
Barbara closes her eyes and wraps her fingers around the hidden knife. In a low voice, she hisses, “Get out of my kitchen, Myles.”
The intrepid Captain Myles Standish retreats out of Barbara’s disarrayed domain like a cowardly lion. He rushes back to the sanctuary of his den. A quirky grin sneaks onto his lips and spreads across his face like warm cranberry sauce.
“Wooo-Hooo. For a minute there, I thought the old lady might bolt and then what would I do? I've got no time to cook a fifty-pound turkey. I have a colony to run.”