The Way Things Are






Here’s a not-so-brief synopsis
2005-11-28, 3:19 p.m.

Here’s a not-so-brief synopsis of Thanksgiving in a Small Town.

First, we went to the sports bar downtown Wednesday night (it was a child-free holiday, and remember my vow to drink as much as possible? OK then), whereupon DW and I learned that ::gasp:: the main bartender girl doesn’t like us. How can that be? Oh, it’s all small-town gossip and conjecture having to do with the barfly that Don was kind of dating for a while there, remember her? She had told her best friend the bartendress that she didn’t think that DW and I liked her all that much (which we did our damndest to hide our feelings, dammit), and she simultaneously did not date Don anymore (his choice, not ours), and then at the same time again, she has stopped living at this particular bar (maybe to minimize exposure to Don – because DW and I sure don’t go there enough to make anybody avoid it just to avoid us). So three separate things, which the bartendress attributes to DW and me.

I just wish we would use our super-powers for good, and not for evil, but, well, we’re evil. So there you go. All intertwined in small-town scandal and intrigue AND WE DIDN’T EVEN HAVE TO TRY.

So that was Wednesday. It made me roll my eyes a bunch. Ouch.

Thanksgiving was its usual nice and laid-back self. DW and I took a nice long walk through our ‘hood late in the afternoon in order to shake off the wicked turkey coma.

Friday! We (me and all my in-laws) had a big-ass garage sale, emptying out 3 or so abandoned storage bays and laying all this shit out on tables for the world to pick over and haggle upon. My friends, it is amazing the kind of shit that people will pay rent to store in a storage unit, and then abandon, and it is amazing the kind of shit that other people will come and pay good money for if they think they are getting the better of you.

I give you: paper plates. There was a stack of pink and green paper plates, probably left over from a party in the 1980s. Some of them were still wrapped in plastic, but most of them were unwrapped and dusty and had been living in storage, exposed to wild animals and pestilence, for years and years. And somebody bought those paper plates for a dollar.

I give you: used hair brushes. Yes.

I give you: broken mannequins. Actually, we didn’t sell those in the garage sale. There’s an even better story about the mannequins.


You see, there’s a senior center down the street from the family’s office/storage units, and the senior center has a thrift store. The thrift store rents a unit, and those good folks (1) pay their rent and (2) occasionally clean out their unit, dumping the offal into the dumpster. One of their cleaning safaris resulted in a family of busted-ass mannequins being tossed in the dumpster, and my mother-in-law made my father-in-law go into the dumpster and rescue the mannequins.

I am not lying. I could not make this up.

It gets even better. Because those mannequins live at and decorate the outside of my in-laws’ house. Their front porch features an armless lady mannequin sporting a pumpkin-printed skirt and green chenille sweater that I suspect I might have given my mother-in-law for Christmas once upon a time. Well, she does have prosthetic arms made of chicken wire, but no hands. So the sweater is pulled down over her nubs.

Have you ever had this conversation at the Thanksgiving table with your mother-in-law?

Her: Laura, do you have any Christmas sweaters or sweatshirts?

Me: No, I don’t. I don’t usually wear stuff like that. (because I’m a snob? No, because I am sane)

Her: Oh. Because I’m trying to find something to dress my mannequin in for Christmas.

Me: You have really lost it.

The mannequin started out in life as a Spurs cheerleader. She lived on the balcony, overlooking the street, wearing a cheerleader outfit (I have no idea where it came from – probably the dumpster) and pom-poms, with a “Go Spurs” sign. And now the whole idea of the mannequin has just absolutely devolved into complete mental illness on the part of my mother-in-law.

She wants to get her mannequin tricked out in holiday finery and have the newspaper come over and take a picture. I said “So the headline can read ‘[Her Name] has Lost Her Mind’?”

She chuckles when I say things like this. She takes my ribbing good-naturedly, and continues about her mannequin-dressing ways. I’m thinking I am going to give the mannequin a Christmas present, and maybe even hang a stocking for the mannequin in front of my fireplace. Because if there’s one thing I am going to do, it is to encourage this type of mental illness. This is the FUN kind of mental illness.

It’ll be fun until I awake in the middle of the night to find the mannequin standing over me with a knife clutched in her nub.

When my family comes to town for Christmas, you can bet all your sweet asses that I am going to make sure there’s an outing to my in-laws’ house so that my family can share in the mannequin experience.

OK, enough about that. I really got sidetracked by the mannequin. In case you were wondering, no, she doesn’t have a name. It’s all the more sweeter that she remains nameless. We just call her “the mannequin”.


Saturday night, we went bowling and I just wasn’t all that into it. I was still tired from Friday, plus crampy and kinda cranky. I tried to have a good time, but with bowling, you have to either be playing really well, or be really drunk in order to have a good time, and I was neither. We broke up into teams for our last game: DW and Don and I, against 4 other friends. The bet was us three against their 3 best scorers. One of them asked how that could possibly be fair, since Don and DW are the best bowlers out of our bunch, and do you want to know what our team’s handicap was? That’s right – ME. “It’s fair because we have Laura.”

Yeah, well, we still won. $7 apiece, baby.

Sunday saw the very end of all the unpacking and decluttering and tossing of extraneous shit left over from the move. It also heralded the discovery of a long-lost library book of Lil Guy’s, which was squirreled away in the very last box to be unpacked. Remember when we moved, and my in-laws showed up and basically shoved crap into boxes and bags and shoveled shit into the back of the truck and then dumped it all in the new garage? Yeah, that’s how that library book ended up in a box full of completely non-book detritus.

On the one hand: letting your in-laws help not only move, but also pack? Very chaotic.

On the other hand: I would still be color-coding the boxes and making lists and schedules.

You be the judge.

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