I had a half dozen semi-historical blog ideas for this week, I even had one blood-thirsty Western story about yet another beheading, but—much like my students—I'm a little tired of history right now. It is the end of the semester, and my students' brains are full. If I were to reveal the location of the Lost Dutchman's mine or a cure for cancer....well, I'm not sure anyone would listen.
Today was the last day of class until the week after the Thanksgiving break. The school doesn't call it that, of course: Enema U refers to it as "The Fall Break." This clever ruse completely fools whichever group might be offended by using the traditional name. No, for the last few days, just about all anyone could think of was the impending break, so I thought I might join them and write about my first Thanksgiving with The Doc, my wife.
Now that I think about it, she wasn't actually 'The Doc' yet. I guess I'll have to call her "Pre-Med."
In any case, we were going to the University of Houston and had a large apartment in a run-down section of town between the Hughes Tool Company and the Maxwell House Coffee plant. We could hear one and smell the other all night long. We didn't really mind either of the two industrial plants except for one small detail. Once a month in the middle of the night, the coffee plant would switch over from producing coffee to producing hot chocolate mix. The entire neighborhood would wake up at the same time with an irresistible urge for a candy bar.
Our apartment was a fourth of an old large home that had seen better days. Half a century earlier, this had been a great neighborhood, but while we lived there our neighbor had a sign out front that claimed she could read palms and predict the future. She must not have been very good at it since she seemed quite surprised when the police arrested her one day for selling stolen goods from her semi-permanent garage sale.
While our apartment was old, it did have wonderful hard wood floors. Pre-Med and I used to get down on our hands and knees to apply the thick Johnson's Paste Wax. It took forever, but it gave a great shine. I can admit that part of the attraction was that by the time the floor was polished, our cats' paws would end up being a solid block of floor wax. It was hilarious to watch the cats spinning out of control as they tried to run through the house.
That year, we decided to cook a goose for Thanksgiving. Neither of us knew how to do this, but we figured it couldn't have been that hard. If Charles Dickens could do it in damn near every one of his books, we figured we could do it.
Looking back, we should NOT have tried! Evidently, a ten-pound goose contains enough goose fat to produce ten gallons of goose oil. I had mistakenly placed the goose in a turkey roasting pan, ignorant of the fact that the proper size metal container for cooking a goose was the Exxon Valdez. Cooking a goose is something that should be avoided like unprotected sex with an Ethiopian transvestite.
During cooking, hot goose grease poured over the side of the roasting pan destroying everything that it touched. It was kind of like hot molten lava, except it smelled great. It pretty well killed that oven and several plastic floor tiles.
Sadly, Pre-Med and I decided that we weren't great fans of goose. We ate it, but....well, it was a little greasy. Most of it went into the refrigerator for endless rounds of leftovers. The only fun part of the meal was that we split a bottle of Mateus Rosé wine. Remember Mateus and Lancer's wine? These were the wines of the 1970's. I haven't seen a bottle in 40 years. (Perhaps this is because Saddam Hussein was hooked on the stuff and had stockpiled warehouses of the stuff in Iraq. There is a persistent rumor that when the soldiers found him hiding in his spider hole, he was clutching a bottle of Mateus.)
The next day, Pre-Med dragged me screaming and crying to the local church for a concert of holiday music. I do not like church music. It was just barely passable before my wife informed me that I had all of the titles and most of words wrong. The hymn was much more fun when I thought the title was "Our Lord is a Shoving Leopard." Now, the only possible enjoyment is waiting for the part of Handel's Messiah where the whole choir sings, "Oh, We Like Sheep!" My wife always elbows me in the ribs every time I go "Baaa! Baaa!"
After a couple of eons, the concert was over and we returned home. To a disaster! While we were gone, our cats had figured out how to liberate the goose remains from the kitchen refrigerator. Evidently, (despite their lack of opposable thumbs) they had enough dexterity in their little, waxed paws to open the fridge, to remove the saran wrap, and to pull out the goose—but NOT to be able to hold the carcass still long enough to actually eat the bird.
So, they had played soccer with it all over the house. The floor of the entire house was a greasy, nasty, goosey mess. We just stood in the doorway and cried like Baptists at a funeral.
You don't really clean up goose fat—you just keep wiping until you have evenly applied it in a thin layer all over the floors. And then, you just keep buffing it until it shines.
Surprisingly, it didn't smell, and the brilliant shine was far better than anything we had ever achieved with Johnson's Paste Wax. It lasted a lot longer, too!