Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath


Thanksgiving’s always weird. I’m not one of those people that ironically scoff about how the pilgrims raped the indians, and I’m not the kind that gets all weepy and talks about being thankful for the baby jesus or whatever the hell else. I have problems eating large amounts of food, so eating 8000 calories of turkey and then passing out isn’t my style. Both parades with floats and football bore me.

To the introvert like me, Thanksgiving is a nice day to not have to be around people. I woke up at the usual 7:30 or so today, but then went back to bed and enjoyed drifting in and out of sleep, feeling the cold outside and hearing the rain and wind, and being nice and comfy inside my fortress of blankets and pillows. I did get up to drink juice, take medicine, use the restroom, then go back to bed. I kept repeating the cycle until about two in the afternoon.

On a work day, I rush through the whole teeth-shave-shower cycle as quickly as possible. But on days off, I almost savor it, and spend a lot of time on small details. I spend forever going over my teeth with floss, inspecting each gap and gumline. I usuaully clean the bathroom as I clean myself, spraying the scrubbing bubble stuff and rearranging the things in the cabinet to find some optimum order maximizing storage space and access to frequently-used medical products. I spend too much time with q-tips and peroxide, dousing out my ears. And then, once in the shower, I spend forever under the hot water, never wanting to get out again.

I got dressed and considered going out for lunch, but it looked like hell out: thunderstorms dumped rain from the dark sky, and cold winds tore across the streets, blowing the rain almost sideways. I didn’t need to be anywhere, so I watched a show on PBS about old railroads and played Ace Combat 5 for a while. Finally, at about 4:00, I got the wise idea that maybe I wanted to cook dinner. I figured the stores would probably close at 5:00 (city that never sleeps, my ass – crap closes here like a small church town with blue laws, and meanwhile in Goshen, Indiana, you can go to Meijer and shop for groceries at three in the morning if you want) so I bundled up and headed out.

The rain stopped, and the sky looked dark, but it was that kind of perfect bad weather, the eye of the tornado kind of stuff. Once again, another reason introverts like me love Thanksgiving is because I get the city all to myself. Everyone else is passed out in front of the tube or has a day off, which means nobody is on the streets and I can roam around without running into the usual assortment of derelicts, idiots, yentas, bad drivers, and everyone else that make this neighborhood a pain in the ass. It was absolutely quiet and still. I loved it.

Even the normally idiotic Key Food store wasn’t that bad at all. A few stragglers were in there, buying last minute stuff or stopping in on their way home, probably. But I got to wander the store with no screaming kids, no people leaving their carts blocking the whole damn aisle, none of the usual madness. I didn’t even have to wait in line.

I spent the evening alternating between watching the tube and doing various household crap like washing dishes and working on organizing my CD collection. It feels nice to spend the evening getting stuff done, relaxing, and eating a bunch of food I just cooked. It’s also nice to know there will be three more days of this ahead.

I guess when I spend Thanksgiving doing nothing, I feel slightly guilty in some weird way, that some relative or person will get all weepy about “oh my god he’s all by himself and he’s building a gallows in his bedroom” or whatever. But the truth of it is that I’ve always been alone on holidays like this. At any family gathering, there’s always the group of men, who want to eat their weight in turkey and drink a bunch of beer and watch football and pass out, and then there’s the group of women, who want to talk shit about all of the members of the extended family that aren’t there and exchange their voodoo/gossip, and there’s the group of kids running around like tasmanian devils. That always left me in the middle with nothing to do, and I learned from an early age that the best way to deal with family dinners was to bring a book. (This was long before the days of the GameBoy or portable DVD player.) So even though I had a dozen people around, I was essentially alone. Actually, I was alone but wanted to really be alone, but instead I was in a basement sitting at a card table or whatever, reading my Fiend Folio or something, wishing I could be away from the people passed out or catting out upstairs, except my parents usually drove. And okay, my maternal grandmother was an excellent cook, and I had enough cousins on my mom’s side that I could find someone to hang out with. But we didn’t go to Chicago that much, so Thanksgiving and many Christmases were spent at my stepdad’s folks’ house. And his mom could not cook. Imagine the mom from Better Off Dead and her grotesque cooking, and that was it. So sitting at home, cooking my own food that I chose, changing the channels on my own TV, and enjoying myself, that’s cool. What I did today made for a good day.

Okay, this Seinfeld thing is on TV, so I am going to watch that.