Thanksgiving is a stressful time to travel. Thrice many people as usual flood the airports, wearing their lace up sneakers, and seemingly unaware that you can’t carry Turkey-carving knives and shotguns on a plane. Going through the airport at Thanksgiving with the requisite post 9-11 full body pat down and x-ray screening is a daunting experience for anyone. But for impatient, type A, stressed out control freaks, this experience is not palatable without some chemical assistance.
People in my family don’t fly well…at all. So the added serving of cluster-f*ck with a side of stupidity at the airport during peak travel times, fries our already agitated brains. We require sedative medications to fly so we don’t scare the other passengers, as we hyperventilate, whilst double checking the emergency doors and in-flight defibrillators. But as long as everyone in our gene pool follows the doctor’s orders, and takes exactly the amount of medicine prescribed, things go well. But if you don’t follow the directions, and you say, mix your medicine with alcohol, something the label on the bottle clearly says not to do, you can become unstable. And Air Marshals get very irritable if you drink so much on a plane that you. can’t. walk.
The inebriated Thanksgiving guest, the one who called my house from an unknown number (because jail doesn’t show up on caller id) at midnight, the year my kids were one, three and five years old, got lucky. Normally we were all fast asleep by eight PM back then. But the night before Thanksgiving my husband was on call for the hospital and answered the phone. My husband was smart enough not to wake me to tell me one of our guests was in the clinker. He knew that my head would actually fall off of my neck, roll down the stairs and into the oven with the overnight, aptly prepared, beer-basted turkey, if he woke me to tell me one of our guests was not in the airport limousine, but incarcerated in the airport holding pen.
The inebriated Thanksgiving offender was extremely lucky that the Transportation Security Agent on duty was compassionate and opted to repeat call my house rather than drive the guest to the federal penitentiary down the road. The offender was still in his/her fancy New York Hedge Fund outfit, and s/he was flying into Tennessee to visit, the night before Thanksgiving. So had they thrown this fancy pants in jail, in Tennessee, chances of survival would have been slim. Because. Hello…have you seen the Deliverance?
When my husband arrived to retrieve this distant relative, he asked (duh) why this person had been half-way incarcerated. The Air Marshal’s version indicated that this high-flying, tequila shooting, suit wearing guest made some comments regarding the quality of US Airways, using some not so nice language (can hardly blame the guest for that one), and also suggested that the airlines were all communists (not sure I follow that train of thought) and then reported an alien on the wing of the plane. Boom. There you go. “Posing threat to passengers.” So, you know, this being post 9/11, they hauled him to the airport jail upon landing.
And that’s the call my husband got— not from the culprit, because the culprit was too inebriated to form words or tell anyone what city or state he was in. The TSA officer spoke to my husband on the phone and told my husband, who had just gotten home from twenty straight hours of brain surgery, where to fetch the culprit. And my husband, the saint, let me sleep through the whole ordeal.
But when I woke up in the morning, my husband felt he needed to share his pre-turkey adventures at the airport prison, lest I should have unrealistic expectations about the culprit’s ability to participate in any turkey baking, pie making, or other activities requiring consciousness throughout the day.
I won’t lie, I was a little upset as I chased my three toddlers through the house, quieting them, so they wouldn’t wake the culprit. It seemed to me that getting oneself from New York to Tennessee shouldn’t be beyond the scope of adult functioning. No one wants to clean up after adults when they are still cleaning three asses that aren’t their own several times a day.
So yes, I was miffed as I changed diapers, consoled my upset mother, and tried to cook a turkey, make stuffing and bake four pies while my husband went to round at the hospital. This was not exactly the Martha Stewart holiday I had in mind. Although Martha did do some jail time herself so maybe I just needed to roll with it.
That’s the beauty of Thanksgiving right? If we can let go of the magazine covers and pinterest boards long enough to look around and be grateful for the people in our lives and the food on our table, no matter what it looks like, it’s hard not to be grateful. Thanksgiving is about the people in our lives, not the five piece place setting. And at least my Thanksgivings have verve. Go big or go home right?
The crazy guest still visits us for the Holidays. But s/he has morphed into quite the mature tee-totaler, and come bearing only the driest sense of humor to go with my very dry turkey.