But, I insist when and where things came together for us was Thanksgiving, 2000. The Blonde In The Brown Jacket was alone trying to cook herself a meal with no butter, while I was swamped with my roommate’s drunken amigos, most of them mathematicians and French cooks drinking bountiful amounts of Dewar’s, playing poker and wolfing down lamb and yams. The Blonde In The Brown Jacket and I hadn’t spoken in several months. We had disagreements during The Good Reverend’s birthday bash that summer, and I retaliated by dating a nursing student, whom I met at a bookstore until that Halloween.
I can’t place the reason I called The Blonde In The Brown Jacket that Thanksgiving night. It must have been murmurings of scotch-soaked calculus that drove me to the phone. I asked her to a movie, a faked documentary on dog shows. She told me to meet her on 116th and nowhere. We went to the movie. We negotiated our issues. We made up.
Thanksgiving has become exclusive for us. In 2001, we did it right. The mathematically inclined roommate hopped a red eye to the left coast and The Blonde In The Brown Jacket and I had the joint to ourselves. We roasted a turkey, made two kinds of potatoes, two kinds of stuffing, cornbread, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole. We rented a John Cusack flick, strolled down Riverside Park, and watched the Dallas Cowboys with the volume turned low. The meal didn’t matter; it was the company, the down time, the quiet, the being together for one brief day that made it all magic.
The next Thanksgiving was rough. We moved into a cute little place together, dreamlike really. The Blonde In The Brown Jacket was temping at a law firm, but I couldn’t find work. I spent my days interning for Richard Foreman in the East Village, making no money, watching Foreman work the same scenes repeatedly, then walking back to Harlem every night, because I couldn’t afford the train. We started saving for Thanksgiving in September, picking up nickels and dimes off the sidewalk. I ate two meals a day to save money, a bowl of All Bran in the morning and a Lipton noodles for dinner. It snowed brutally that Thanksgiving. We couldn’t afford a turkey, so we bought turkey parts we marinated in sugar, an old lemon, and a cheap Kentucky bourbon I can’t bring myself to name. We made mashed potatoes, one kind of stuffing, and no dessert. And we got into a fight. Something ugly, something inappropriate, something football, something about food. I blame her. I am sure she blames me.
The next year, things changed. I got a job at a SoHo theatre and The Blonde In The Brown Jacket left the law firm for a gig at an upscale ballet company. Her job was difficult and lonely, negotiating failed artists. I loved my job. I was only averaging six dollars an hour, but my coworkers were a blast. We danced at 1:40 every afternoon, sneaked swigs of the donated fundraiser vodka, and I met one of my closest friends, a lighting designer and comic artist hired to fix the toilets. He was always the Rosencrantz to my Guildenstern. I wish I had a fancy name for him. For this story, we shall call him Chris.