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TITLE: Crazy Thanksgiving
By lauren finchum

More writing Practice stuff.
I am SO SICK of hearing Pete go on and on about his “baby”. That beat up moped has been the item of conversation for the last hour. What was it that possessed me to ask my one-fry-short-of-a-value-meal co-worker to come with me on a two-hour car drive to a thanksgiving destination?
Oh, yes, I believe it was pity. When I saw Pete at the water cooler last week saying a Swanson’s dinner was his only companion for Thanksgiving, my heart went out to him.
Now, the man that drives me crazy in the office is strapped in next to me in a car seat—I’m imprisoned.
Willow, my best friend, is driving the crammed ’91 Subaru, giving me harried glances in the mirror while Pete rattles on about his preferred mode of transportation—picking his nose while he does so.
In the passenger seat is Blank, (really, that’s his name, he said his parents “drew one” when naming him) willow’s new missionary dating project. (A hobby I’ve told her is dangerous.)
So here we are, two Jesus freaks, a wack, and a cynic.
Let the games begin.
In the middle of his latest moped speech Pete shrieks, “OH MY GOSH!” like Willow just ran over a kid.
“What?!” Willow is alarmed.
“I have to pee.” Pete relays evenly and calmly, as if he didn’t just scream bloody murder.
“Holy crap, is THAT all?” Blank turns in his seat to glare at Pete. Blank seems to be trying to bore holes in Pete with a Devil-like stare.
Aren’t we a cozy bunch?
Willow searches for a rest stop; when she finally finds one, Pete reports he no longer has to go.
We don’t ask why.
Finally we arrive at our destination: Willow’s childhood home.

Keith and Marsha Marx, Willow’s parents, are the finest specimens of The Jesus Movement you’ll ever hope to find. Happy, welcoming, and full of hippie charm, they receive everyone with large smiles and big hugs.
Not that I mind their greeting, but Blank is waiting for “the catch” and Pete—phobic that he is—thinks Keith and Marsha were trying to “do something” to him. Like lift his wallet or plant a mini bomb on his butt.

Our odd group sits down to the dinner table of free-range turkey, locally grown green beans, and marshmallow-sweet potato casserole laced with tofu.
Keith offers up an enthusiastic, passionate prayer that starts at three o’clock and ends at three-twenty. By now, Blank’s eyes are glazed over, and Pete has begun to sneak green beans with his grubby fingers.
I whisper an apology to Keith for Pete’s bean-fingers. In Keith’s ever present, laid-back manner he declarers, “It’s all cool.”
After wordlessly passing the food around, Keith starts one of his smooth hippie-Jesus conversations. Willow and I enjoy his talk; Blank has enough manners to at least humor a guy in jeans, and tee that states “reflect the Son”, and a Native American bead bracelet. Pete, on the other hand, interrupts Keith to talk about that dang moped.
When Pete is done, Willow begins to speak of her volunteer work at the SPCA. Willow is stopped short, when Pete jumps up from the table holding his throat. He gags and spurts—his pre-maturely thinning orange hair flapping with every jerk.
Marsha hurries to ask him what’s wrong. Pete throat-yells that there was a UFO (unidentified food object) in his potatoes, and he COULD be allergic.
This is when he starts hyperventilating.
Keith starts clapping Pete’s back and asks what the food looked like.
Pete retorts, “A white glob.”
“Tofu.” Keith says, “are you allergic to tofu?”
“Don’t know.” Pete gasps like he’s playing Spock Dying.
(Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but Pete’s a Trekie.)
Keith finally calms Pete as Marsha says she’ll make some lavender and fenugreek tea to “calm Pete’s nerves and stomach.”
Purple faced from mock choking, Pete returns to his seat next to me. I see, now, why his only date for Thanksgiving was a frozen dinner.

After a dessert of pumpkin pie (made from whole pumpkins, not canned) and organic chocolate-pecan pie, the group sits and sips organic cider by a bonfire Keith started. Keith and Marsha inspire us to tell what we’re thankful for.
And, despite Pete saying he’s thankful this day is over, we all enjoy the ritual—even Blank.

After dropping off Pete, he informs me he’s NEVER accepting an invention from me again . . .my friends and I are weird.
Back on the road it’s Willow, Blank, and me.
“I asked Willow why you invited that freaky bro,” Blank cracks the silence with his deep voice, “She said it was to show Jesus love.” He smiles wryly, “At first I thought you were just some sappy crackpot—no offence.”
“None taken.” I reply.
“But after the patients you showed the dude just so he wouldn’t be lonely . . .it was . . .nice.” Blank seems to feel stupid, but he continues, “If this Jesus is as patient with people, maybe . . .I’ll try’im out.”
Willow’s face alights.
I smile, “Jesus has more patients than me, I’m sure.”
Blank nods, out of fuzzy things to say.
I laugh inwardly; I guess all things do work out good for those who trust Him.

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