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November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving is Coming

Thanksgiving is coming. Regular readers know I am a big fan of Thanksgiving because I enjoy camaraderie and boxed stuffing mix. This year we are hosting dinner at our house, which is always a little stressful because my wife’s preferred method of cooking is screaming at me. I’m not sure why yelling at me produces such excellent food but it seems to work every year. The other thing that seems to help is screaming at the kids. For dessert she sometimes screams at the dog, but my brother is making a pumpkin pie so that might not be necessary this year.

My wife really is an excellent cook. She claims not to be, but that is just her Minnesota humility/Catholic guilt/lying and thieving nature doing the talking. She takes a genuine interest in the food we consume, which is a real gift but can also cause me tremendous stress because it sets the bar pretty high at our house. The other night she invented some sort of delicious lamb chop recipe, which she served with brussells sprouts gratin and some other fabulous thing. All well and good for her, but then when it’s my turn to make dinner I feel horrible pressure to meet or exceed her efforts. But I cannot.

It’s not that I can’t follow a recipe. I can, but my problem is that I lack the requisite foresight to make a yummy dinner. I don’t possess that special talent that good cooks have to project themselves into the future, where they are somehow able to envision themselves and their loved ones sitting around a table eating their future dinner. I cannot think that far ahead. To me, if it’s not dinner time I cannot think about dinner. I think about breakfast in the morning, lunch at lunchtime, and dinner sometime after that. Dinner never even crosses my mind until my children are wondering why I have once again put them to bed hungry.

The other problem with cooking is how time-consuming it is for something so ephemeral. With writing, I spend a lot of time on it, post it to the internet, and then it’s there forever or until one of my corporate masters asks me to remove whatever offensive thing I have just said about them. But when I cook, my efforts are consumed within minutes. If the goal is to live forever, which it obviously is, then I just don’t think cooking is the best way to get there. Even the most famous, best-loved cooks in history are known more for their books or television shows than for their actual food. We all know Julia Childs but how many of us actually tried food she prepared? Very few. I would guess more people read my Twitter post in which I define “hula-pooping” than ate an actual meal prepared by Julia Childs.

To ameliorate this problem, I sometimes eat food more slowly than I want, which is good for digestion and certainly makes my efforts feel more worthwhile but it creates unintended consequences, which is that it forces my wife and I to talk to each other. We’ve been married eleven years; there is nothing left to say.

Then there’s the clean-up, which feels interminable. I probably spend more time cleaning up our kitchen than I do on any other single activity in my life, including sleeping. When I add up the time I spend on those two activities, it leaves me precious little time for what I really want to be doing, which is loathing myself. Yes, I can hate myself while doing the dishes but I am not a good multi-tasker, which is also an essential quality to become a good cook.

When Thanksgiving comes this year, I will assume my assigned place in the kitchen, right beside my wife. I will know that I have done my job when she tells me to “get out of her fucking way.” Her saying that is the equivalent of the plastic turkey popper going off, and it is then that I know everything is going to be delicious.

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Camille

Did you know that this disappeared for several days after some of us commented on it?
Have a fabulous holiday!

Camille

(firsties, bitches)

Jaime

Seriously. It did disappear. And I'm on vacation, so had to post 5 times somewhere else. What up with that?!

But this was worth the wait. Especially this part: "I will know that I have done my job when she tells me to 'get out of her fucking way.' Her saying that is the equivalent of the plastic turkey popper going off, and it is then that I know everything is going to be delicious."

I've never said the words, but I have harumphed my man out of the kitchen and shooed him with a playful, half-annoyed, but laughing, "Get OUT!!" So your wife made me laugh. Hard. Thanks Mikey! And enjoy your boxed stuffing!!

Kelly Hagg

AH! The Bermuda Posting is BACK. So, it occurs to me that maybe if your wife yelled at you while you cleaned up the dishes it would go faster...with the additional benefit of supplementing your self loathing...(I find someone screaming at me is like a dark Vitamin C). Happy Thanksgiving!

Cotie

God, Michael you are a man after my heart. Love. Love. Love. Love you!

Bailey

I also "lack the foresight to make a yummy dinner." If I ever do actually plan ahead, by the time it's finally ready, I no longer want it. I just don't like spending so much time with a particular kind of food. Like if I was in charge for making Thanksgiving dinner, by the time we sat down to eat, I'd want a pizza instead.

kat

Hope you have a joyful thanksgiving Michael

Kristina

My parents on a typical Thanksgiving:
Mom: Robert, what are you doing standing there?
Dad: Just trying to help, dear.
Mom: Yeah, well you can help by getting the hell out of my way.

So yeah. This made me laugh. :)

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Brent

So funny, so true.

Velveteen Ballsac

Julia Child, not ChildS. Smarten up.

Vic's mom

I hate to mess with the comments section, but hell if I know of another way to try to directly reach Michael Ian Black.
This is so rude to ask someone I don't know for a favor, but maybe you (Mr. Black) expect it and tolerate it as a consequence of your celebrity.
I have an 18 yr. old daughter at the University of Vermont (she's freezing) who adores you. She got to see your show last year in NYC when auditioning for Tish (she didn't get in).
Would you consider calling or emailing her? I can call this my Christmas gift to her. Due to a divorce and losing my job, the best gift she's getting is a crappy low-end set of luggage from Sears (black Friday special).
My daughter is a very generous and loving person who is always doing for others and never expects anything in return. She's also a middle child and probably gets overlooked too much.
She thinks you're brilliant and loves your work. Maybe you're feeling generous this holiday season?
Please think about it. I don't want to leave her personal contact info on here. I'm sure she reads your blog and will be humiliated if she reads my post.
You can email me for more information. Thanks! And Happy Hanukkah!

Vic's mom

Meant to type "Tisch" not "Tish"...

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