On Thanksgiving morning my uncle and I bundled up and drove the truck down treacherous roads, seeking to bring Great Granny and her stalwart caretaker Peter cupcakes decorated to look like a turkey. This mission was clearly of the utmost importance.
We trundled out there against the advice from Peter, the world's nicest man. Peter speaks in halting English, primarily learned from the elderly people in his care. I wasn't quite sure, but it sounded a little bit like he said he didn't think coming out to Great Granny's in that weather was a very good idea. (Anybody else notice how frequently people suggest that maybe what I'm doing is not a very good idea?) I told him we'd see him shortly and in spite of weather like this:
we successfully delivered our precious cargo to Great Granny out in the sticks, then returned home triumphant to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The moment I'd shucked my winter gear and placed my boots on the heat vent, my Auntie called me to the kitchen.
"Smell this," she said. I'm pretty staunchly opposed to sniffing on command, but, it was Thanksgiving. As I opened the oven door, she continued, "Does it smell bad to you?". It wasn't the worst smell ever, but my super-sniffer warned me away. I agreed that it did not smell right. It, being the Thanksgiving turkey.
A mere 3 hours from guest arrival my uncle and I rebundled and headed outside to fight nature and last minute crowds in search of replacement poultry. The supermarket was nearly deserted, and one lone thawed turkey awaited us. A gorgeous twenty two pound bird... with an estimated cook time of 6 hours. A 5 hour gap between guest arrival and dinner sounded a little too long.
So we bought two chickens and a ham, just to be on the safe side and headed home. The first thing we noticed upon the return to the house was that the attic ladder was down. Curious.
As we entered the house the smell wave hit us like a garbage tsunami. I want you to understand that this smell was epic. It was profoundly terrible. At first I thought that all four dogs had eaten something squishy and dead, like a raccoon corpse that didn't agree with them, and resulted in four dog simultaneous in-door pooptastrophe. Times eleventy million.
This smell was Lovecraftian in it's horribleness- like something dredged from Cthulhu's anus.
This smell was our turkey. The turkey my uncle had declared he was going to cook to one hundred and eighty degrees and then consume in an effort to prove that brining the turkey in scalding hot water would not, in fact, kill every one of us.
Our turkey which, upon our return was already sitting outside in the snow, still in its roasting pan. Our turkey, which was so funky, so gnarly, so horrific that the dogs wouldn't go near it. Our dogs, who drag squirrel corpses under the porch to age like kimchi before rolling around in them and eating the squishy bits, and leaving the the empty squirrel fur and bone sacks lying about like deflated maggot balloons, found our Thanksgiving turkey so terrifyingly stinky that they wouldn't go near it.
Auntie had opened every window and door (it was less than 30 degrees), lit every candle in the house (including the holiday candles looted from the attic), and lit the fireplace. Yet the stench was oppressive. Two and a half hours later, when the first guest arrived it still smelled bad enough that he asked what had happened. My dearest friend, the nicest, most polite person in the world- he is from Kansas people, and his mother is Mennonite- asked about the unholy stank.
Other than the unspeakable horror that was the turkey, everything else turned out well. I trussed and roasted the chickens, and we baked up the ham.
Dinner was even on time and, by then, either we'd all adjusted to it, or the noxious cloud had finally dissipated.
But I will never forget the putrescence visited upon us on that day. This Thanksgiving the thing I was most thankful for is that I didn't have to wash the roasting pan.