Today Shannon and I are trekking into the city to check out the latest exhibits at the Palace of the Legion of Honor, after having lunch at Carl's Jr. (using coupons my mom sent to us). This feels quite appropriate to me, because I have very vivid memories of having Thanksgiving Dinner at Carl's Jr. when I was 6, because my mom and extremely frightening step-dad (EVIL ERNIE) had a huge fight, resulting in my mom grabbing Nally and me, and us 3 all skipping town, leaving Ernie with a huge uncooked turkey and all the raw fixin's.
We went to Carlsbad (about 61 miles south of where we were living in Garden Grove) and walked on the beach and ate Happy Stars for Thansgiving Dinner and put our elbows on the table just to spite The Evil One.
See, Ernie was a stickler for table manners, and became irate if Alan -- who was 4 -- or I -- who was 5 to 6 during that time -- put our elbows on the table while eating. He would pull back a fork, holding the tines with the fingers of his other hand, as if he were preparing to toss mashed potatoes in a food fight, and then he would let go and -- WHAP! -- smack us in the elbow with the metal tines. For YEARS after we left Ernie, Mom, Nal, and I would frequently put our elbows on the table during meals, just to spit in E's face. Every time I catch myself committing this particular faux pas in adulthood, I feel a little thrill of freedom, independence, rebellion, and triumph, even though Ernie is apparently long dead of lung cancer. So some may think I just have bad table manners, but in actuality I'm spitting in Satan's eye.
Our Thanksgiving "on the run" in Carlsbad was definitely my favorite Thanksgiving of my childhood. It was just my mom and Nally and me -- the people I really considered family -- and we were away from this terrible environment of abuse, and I think escape from abuse, sudden removal from a situation of abuse, has a sort of euphoria that in some ways feels better than a simple lack of abuse altogether. Is that strange?
Anyway, so Shannon and I are going to a post-Thanksgiving lunch at Carl's Jr. today, and I will be sure to put my elbows on the table.