Sheltered Islander: It’s a New Year on The Rock!

Little Girl at Table
Young Sally dreams of a place at the table. Photo: Matt Conrad, conrad.matt, Flickr Commons

This is it, I’ve hit the big time. I’m 11 years old and this is my first year at the adult table for our family New Year’s celebration. I’ll be seen as a peer, able to wise-crack and joke which will now be interpreted as being cool instead of getting me a back hand to the face. I’ve got to handle this just right or I won’t be able to sit here again next year.

I’ll start with a quick study of the occupants at the table. I will make a mental note of something pithy and smooth that I might be able to say at just the right time, allowing them a glimpse into my brilliant and subtly sophisticated mind. Now let’s see, Aunt Alice just had something done at the doctor’s office but I don’t know what. She keeps a secret bottle of vodka in a tall boot in the back of her closet. I could make a joke about that. I mean, we all know about it, but we all pretend we don’t know about it, and when she says she never touches a drop, we all pretend to believe her.

Then there’s Uncle Joe the cheap SOB. I only recently learned that when he’s in earshot, we just call him Uncle Joe. Ever since I can remember, he’s been Uncle Joe the cheap SOB. Apparently when he gives people money to get him cigarettes he counts the change. And sometime before I was born he tried to figure out how many beers he drank from the keg at a party and insisted on paying for his estimated portion instead of going in equal with the group. Maybe I could make a joke about that. “Hey Uncle Joe how much do you think you ate of that 18 pound turkey? Eight bucks worth?” That oughta get a good laugh. I’ll add a knowing smile. I can just see the surprised look on my mother’s face at my ability to pull off such sophisticated humor.

Aunt Margaret is bringing her third husband to the dinner. Dad doesn’t like him, but says that at least he’s keeping Aunt Margaret “off the pole.” She met him at a restaurant where she was a dancer. Dad yells that she’s shallow and would’ve never married the guy if he didn’t have a lot of money. Mom yells back he never would’ve married her if she didn’t look the way she does with her store-bought boobs. And Mom’s not too sure if her diamond ring is real, “that so-called diamond ring is as fake as the rest of her.” Maybe I could work in a joke about fake turkey breasts. “Hey Aunt Margaret, how much do you think the turkey paid for those breasts, eh?” That should go over well. Smart, slick, a little risqué, but what the heck, you’re only 11 once.

Grampa still thinks he’s in Korea on occasion. You can’t wake him up too quickly if he’s asleep in the recliner. He talks very loud and doesn’t listen to anyone. He won’t wear his hearing aids. He’s the oldest and therefore gets two carves of turkey. Mom holds her breath every time he reaches for the big knife. Apparently, there is an actual method to slicing meat off the turkey that does not involve the poor little turkey looking like he was hit by a grenade.

Yup. My first time at the big table and I’m ready.

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