My cousin Brenna is a great girl. She’s a writer. She’s a card. She’s all that and a bag of Frito Lays (to borrow from popular culture).
Bren is currently attending St. Olaf near/in/outskirts of Northfield, Minnesota (yes, Minnesota). It has been her habit for the last couple of years to come to our house for Thanksgiving. She lives originally in Rapid City, which is something like 6 or 7 hours from Big Stone. St. Olaf is something like 3 or 4 hours from Big Stone, the other way. That is something like 10 or 11 hours driving if she wanted to go home. Seeing as how she loves us much more than her original family, she typically stays in Big Stone with us.
This year was no different. The irony of Brenna (being a cousin on my dad’s side) staying with us for Thanksgiving is that my mom’s side of the family is the one that comes to visit us. She has kinda become the nth cousin. They all know her name, and most of them know her major, though they argue about it. As it is, we always have a good time when Brenna hangs out with us.
The trip to get her even started off good. It was my brother, my father and I, braving the open road at night. Bryce, to not feel like such a back seat loser, tried his best to start conversation topics. The one that actually got a conversation going was “What activities were you or are you involved with in college?”
My dad went first. He started off with clubs and organizations. Jobs could only be counted if the school was your employer. This was great news for me because I have three jobs for the school right now. “Well, I went to a lot of events to watch; does that count?”
Bryce got angry. “Dad, you can’t count that. That’s like saying, ‘Well, I went to a basketball game once and tossed the ball back when it went out of bounds.’ You can’t say that.” My dad immediately apologized (after tears) and we pulled the car over and hugged for what seemed like forever.
When we recovered, we pulled back onto the open road. My dad’s total number of activities came to 14. It was my turn. I named off clubs and organizations and the like. The numbers climbed, soaring up to 12. I wasn’t going to be outdone by my dad, so I asked a simple question. “Can jobs, if they are for the university, be counted?” Bryce said yes, and I said 15.
I felt victorious, wondrous, and powerful. Bryce read off his list of activities. “I’m in the paper, I write for the Spur.”
“I … I was in ROTC at SDSU.”
“And I was undefeated grand world champion of intramural wrestling one year in a row.”
“… three… Wait, weren’t you the only one in that weight group? And you only wrestled once?”
But we didn’t have time to get into it. There we were, at Brenna’s dorm. We waited for her for a bit, grabbed her stuff, and headed home. The only thing I regret about the trip back is that we never asked Brenna the number of activities she was in. I would have to guess 39.
The weekend was peppered with cribbage. One game we played had Bryce and Lindsey versus Dad and Me/Brenna. We won the game, but you couldn’t tell by our playing method. It seems that every hand that we had there was a question as to which stupid, crappy card we should toss. We’d be faced with a host of retard cards and the choice would come to toss either a three or a seven.
It came down to which number do we hate more? We tossed a three the first time. The card that was cut was a two. We had a ten and a jack. So, thanks to dropping the three, we had nothing. If we had a seven, and tossed that, the card that was cut would be an eight. After a couple times of this happening, we would moan and scream when the card was cut, even if it was good. Good or bad, we always screwed it up.
We also never paid much attention to the game. We got into an argument. Brenna chastised me for still believing my “disillusionity.” I argued back, ridiculing (I’m sure) her writing. Then I yelled out, “Maybe I enjoy my disillushunamentity!” I did this while she was taking a swig of Sprite, and, as a consequence, it appears to have come out her nose, boiled her brain, and forced her to leave the table.
Thanksgiving hit full force, like a fat kid accidentally pushed off the Empire State Building by his just as fat, but less sensitive, first cousin. There was turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and wine. Oh, there was wine. Grandma, if you’re reading this, Bryce needs to be talked to about his drinking problems.
The highlight of the dinner was my grandparents recounting a very interesting story about pie crusts. You might think that I’m joking, but the story was awesome. There is really no way to tell it in text on a website. To fully enjoy it, you had to have been there. To get a nice second-hand reiteration, you must see Bryce and I perform it.
The story goes like this. My grandma has recently come to realize that kids these days are more fans of store-bought crust over hand-made crust. “Kids these days don’t know what good pie crust is!” So, she decides not to do hand-made crust for Thanksgiving. “Well, I said, to hell with getting up at 6 in the morning to make pie crust they don’t even like.”
She sends my grandpa out to get some store-bought crusts. He says, “So this pretty young girl helped me find the pie crusts, and I just reached up and grabbed five of them, because Alyce needed five, and… well, how was I supposed to know there were two in a tin? I thought it was expensive.”
Grandma gets the tins and makes the pies. She checks on them that night, to see how they look, and discovers that she forgot to remove the paper between the crust and the filling. “You know that feeling when your blood turns to water? That’s how I felt seeing that paper there.” Grandma is a bit overdramatic.
Grandpa, that night, has a dream about it. Yes. Grandma couldn’t sleep all night, and Grandpa had a dream about it. “I had a dream about the damn thing. … In my dream the damn thing just lifted out, you know. My dream didn’t show what to do if it doesn’t.” Grandpa does what the dream says, but it doesn’t work perfectly. He has to do some nifty amateur surgery, but he figures it out. My uncle Kevin says, “Wait. So this pie is store-bought crust?” and my grandmother, with a huge, guilty smile on her face, can only say, “Yes!”
The activity around our household was minimal after that. We did go to Unity Square one day to play basketball. I was definitely not suited for such an athletically inclined activity, but my team won. Thanks to Tony’s underestimation of my luck, I managed to score a few points, even.
We watched TV. We saw the top celebrity battles. The runner-up was that battle between Britney and, Limp master himself, Fred Durst. I think this is a pretty weak battle. I could see how certain people would have watched it with delight, muttering “burnage” as blows were dealt, but I took no notice of the debacle. The number one was Eddie Van Halen versus David Lee Roth. Take that for what it’s worth.
It was time to take her back. Bryce and Brenna and I met Megan at China Moon in Madison to begin our trip. It came down to everyone being done and me talking with a plate full of food when Brenna said, “You ready to go?” I look down at my plate, at my watch, at them, and back at my plate. “Gimme a sec.” So, I stuffed a whole bunch into my big, fat, stupid mouth, and we left.
On the trip up was nice. We listened to Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (voted the number one album by Rolling Stone Magazine), lots of rap music, and then Nirvana. Megan is a huge Nirvana fan. So we started talking about how she’s going to marry him in Heaven.
“Wait, so then where do I fit?”
“Ok, we can get married in heaven, and he’ll be our son.”
And that started the topic, if you could adopt dead people in Heaven, who would you adopt? This is truly a heated argument. One person would pick someone, Lincoln, and the other person wanted that person to begin with. So, then the second person would pick a rival, John Wilkes Booth, to spite the first person. Exempt are deities and people still alive, as much as we all wanted Paul McCartney.
The list the Megan and I came up with is:
- Kurt Cobain
- Lead singers of Sublime, Drowning Pool, Blind Melon
- Mother Teresa
- Alfred Hitchcock
- Catherine Hepburn
- Steven Spielberg
- Alexander the Great
- Emily Dickinson
- William Blake
- Robert Frost
- Walt Whitman
- Rainbow Bright
- Hedy Lamarr
- Nemo’s Mom
- Charlie Chaplin
- Harry Houdini
- M. C. Escher
- Tycho Brahe
- Joseph Smith
- George Washington Carver
- Jack Benny
- Lee Harvey Oswald
- Sigmund Freud
- Jesse James
- Wyatt Erp
- Karl Marx
- Crazy Horse
- Kate Smith
- Lee Harvey Oswald
- Josef Stalin
- B. F. Skinner
- and some I can’t read anymore.
It was dark in the car. As the list rambled on, my words became muddled. Soon it was impossible to see the paper anymore, so we quit the game. It’s food for thought, though. I’m just hoping that God has something like this in place already. Then we don’t have to spend all the time getting names on a petition.
We got there safe and sound. We dropped Brenna off and drove back home. The trip home was mostly uneventful. We stopped at a Burger King, and then Bryce and Megan left me there. I was devastated that my brother and my girlfriend would double cross me like that. Shameful.
The next day we had church. I played guitar, but (once again) pissed off my mom while doing so and just quit playing halfway through the last song. We hit the store to buy some goodies. The fun thing about that was when Bryce slipped a douche and a package of Vagisil. Megan thought it was my mom’s, so she didn’t say anything.
So, Bryce said, “Miles, why are you getting Vagisil?”
So, not to be outdone, I say, “Wait, you got extra strength? How bad do you think my burning and itching is?”
I love going to store with my brother.