Myles Standish, Captain of the Mayflower, is the reason for holiday stress.
In August, he invited the Indians to a Labor Day party, got them roaring drunk so they would tell him where the wild turkeys hung out. Promising more firewater, he then conned them into teaching Pilgrim women how to grow, harvest and cook maze, squash, pumpkins, and Boston Baked Beans.
By the middle of October, Myles was thinking, PAR-TAY!
Picture, if you will, Captain Standish reciting 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, she’s not happy. The experimental spaghetti squash exploded in July 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, thanks to Myles who introduced firewater and firepower to the Indians.
Preparing for the first Thanksgiving feast, Barbara mutters to herself and quivers.
“Would it have killed him to ask me before he invited every Indian in the new country? I’m supposed to entertain strangers dressed in animal skins. Gimme a flippin’ break.”
Baby Lora is walking now; son Charles is into teenage angst, and young Myles is a nerd. Big Myles mostly muses.
“Husband,” Barbara shouts. “Pu-leese stop musing and get in here.”
He stomps into the dirt-floor kitchen. “Now what, Babs?”
“What are ya, blind? I’m knee-deep in unshucked maze and pumpkins that need to be stewed. Baby Lora messed up her last clean nappy while you were mooning over Priscilla. She married somebody else, Myles. Get over it.”
The zukes are growing faster than the speed of light and the sweet potato pies are bubbling over in the oven.
Myles poses like a Fifteenth Century Mr. Clean. “Blimey! It’s Disaster City in here. Other than whining, what have you been doing, woman? Our guests are expected today. What is so difficult about preparing enough food to feed a small continent? What else would you be doing?”
She looks around for something sharp. “I’m hormonal, Myles, so I would rather take a nap and 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 spout?”
She sidles over to a knife resting under a sixty-pound zucchini. A vague smile crosses Barbara’s lips as she and the knife focus on the bad-tempered, albeit intrepid Mayflower Captain.
“Myles,” Barbara croons, “Why did you invite the entire Wampanoag Nation to dinner?”
“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 throws up his hands. “There you go again.”
“What do you mean?” She tugs the knife out from under the seriously heavy zucchini.
“Merely a reminder that the entire nation was not invited. 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?”
Myles lights up a cheroot and blows a smoke ring. “About ninety. 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 and cook the stinkin’ pumpkins? I’m not Martha Stewart.”
“Babs, what we have here is a failure to communicate. Seriously, what would you rather do?”
“Be pummeled to the ground with a 20-pound sack of flour until I pass out, that’s what.”
“There’s no need to get your bloomers in a bunch over a little dinner party. Chill. Call the Butterball Hot Line. They know all about turkey stress.”
Barbara stares. “Maybe they’ll send a wagontrain of cooked food with an army of servers.”
“Babs, Babs, Babs. The Butterball Hot Line is designed to get you through turkey angst, not to spoil you.”
“Myles, this is a good time to tell you that I have a raging case of PMS, a migraine and a knife. I am on my last nerve and I don’t give a flying fig about the Butterball people.”
“Hey! Don’t go all nutterootie 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 Standish retreats like a cowardly lion from Barbara’s disarrayed domain and returns to his sanctuary. A quirky grin sneaks onto his lips to slowly spread across his face like warm cranberry sauce.
“Woo-Hoo. For a minute I was afraid the old lady would bail and then who would cook that fifty-pound turkey? Not me. I have a colony to run.”