I Yam What I Yam

My first proper Thanksgiving. This is a new holiday for me, days off that we don’t have in the UK. Thanksgiving is like a second Christmas, with all of the preparation hassle but none of the gifting or decorations. Laura’s friends Anthony and Marsha came round to join us.

Marsha? Like Marsha Brady? Yes. Only in America would someone be called Marsha. This Marsha turns out to be a professor of organic chemistry. There’s not much you can say to that, so I didn’t. Just showed them the new Keith Dance and got on with it. I could tell they were impressed by the way they rolled their eyes in unison. They *got* it.

Anthony and Marsha brought their Japanese friend Nori with them. I wanted to call him Nero or Neo, which actually wouldn’t have mattered too much since it became apparent in the first few minutes that Nori didn’t speak more than ten words of English.

It’s hard to involve someone in a conversation when you have no common language so I poured him a glass of Diet Pepsi–symbol of Western decadence–and smiled a lot. Nori smiled too. It was like one of those scenes in Little House On The Prairie where Old Man Ingalls brings home a stranger so they can pass stuff around at dinner. Except we’re not on the prairie. Details.

Yams. I must just mention the yams. Sweet potatoes. One fine upstanding American tradition is to cover these with mini marshmallows and bake them in a casserole dish. We varied this by crumbling in a whole pack of ginger snaps (or, as we Brits like to say, ginger biscuits) and then heating the mix up on the stove first. The result of this was like eating pure sugar. Two teaspoons each were enough.

I think I’ve gained an extra pound just from that one meal.

Later we went round to another friend’s house where I met Steven, a documentary maker from Ohio. We watched each other’s films. He’s working on a six hour series of programmes about families with children who have cancer. Heavy stuff. Well made, though. And I got a contact for the university’s in-house media unit to follow up for work.

This was all good. Shortly after I found myself in Lisa’s perfect kitchen. I’ve not been in that many perfect kitchens but this was definitely one. I had a Labbatt’s in one hand and no bottle opener in the other. Where in God’s Holy Name would someone keep the bottle opener in a perfect kitchen? I hunted high and low, through drawers, under tables.

I was beginning to feel guilty since we hadn’t actually brought a bottle, although I’ll never feel so guilty I can’t drink someone’s Labbatt’s. Where would you put a bottle opener for people with a cold bottle of beer if you were catering for Norm out of Cheers? Because surely that’s who the ideal kitchen designer would have in mind when thinking about bottle openers. At last it dawned–I found it magnetized to the side of the fridge.

Before we left–and before I ate everything I could find made out of chocolate (yes, yes I did)–I, with my Labbatt’s bottle firmly in hand, met the Canadians. The Canadians (whose names I forget because my brain is now indeed full) turned out to have watched Fawlty Towers and got Monty Python jokes. It turned out that their sense of humour (with a ‘u’) was more similar to mine than my American friends. Strange that. I drank their beer and gave thanks.

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