Characters live life with ‘Reckless’ abandon
December 1, 2005
I’m not alone when I say that some of the dumbest things I’ve ever done were when I was drunk and/or young. The participants of the following tale were both. Those of us who lived through the experience called it our “Manson Family Thanksgiving.”
We named the day as a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the “Walton Family Thanksgiving Special” that had just aired on television. This was almost 20 years ago.
The names of the participants of this day-of-thanks-debacle were as colorful as the characters themselves. Rock, Joe Lewd, Scotty-No-Favors and Yours Truly were raised within about a 20-mile radius on Boston’s South shore. None of us knew each other while growing up, but we became fast friends once we met up in Colorado.
In the other corner were the “Alabama-Boys” ” Chris and Jeff, neighbors of mine, and like the rest of us, displaced ski bums. By an odd twist of fate, Rock, Scotty and I had been dumped by our girlfriends only a few days before the holiday. Joe Lewd didn’t have a girlfriend because, well, he was lewd.
Unlike Rock and me, Scotty kept his break-up a secret. It wasn’t that No-Favors lied to us; he simply disappeared on a two-day-bender and was unable to tell us his relationship had ended a few days earlier in a fiery fight that left our friend’s clothing piled in his (former) front yard under 6 inches of snow.
Rock, Joey and I in our ignorance were counting on celebrating the holiday with Scotty and his mate; we had all chipped in to buy a bird.
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Scotty showed up Thanksgiving morning in need of a shave, shower and aspirin and gave us the bad news. As soon as Scotty confessed that his old girlfriend was cooking our turkey for her new boyfriend, and we were not invited, we began calling around looking for other options.
Due to the 11th hour and the fact that there were four of us, it was a hard sell. We might have split up and gone our separate ways, but misery loves company, and though three of us might have found places to eat, there was “no room at the inn” for Joe Lewd.
Back then, in the resort town I call home, only the homeless, friendless and tourists celebrated Thanksgiving at a restaurant; we decided to join them. In a spirit of philanthropy, I decided to ask our neighbors from the south (Bama-Boys) to join us.
The afternoon began with whiskey, and the evening ended in a fist-fight. My mistake was to invite the Bama-Boys. They were young, fresh in town and good neighbors, but didn’t know anyone in the group except me. Their mistake was underestimating the Irish temper of Joe Lewd.
We were a pathetic lot of miscreants around that table. Personally, I didn’t mind being dumped as much I minded having no happy place to go. That said, Favors and Rock were sporting sour moods; Joey was just being himself.
As often is the case, there is no problem that cannot be worsened by alcohol. I had to work early the next morning, so once the meal arrived, I switched to water and climbed onto the wagon; the others washed down the bird with Jim Beam. After dessert, I bid a hasty retreat and headed home.
I have no idea how the after-dinner conversation turned to the topic of the Civil War; I would imagine the Bama-Boys broached the subject.
I’m also surprised that Joe Lewd felt strongly one way or the other.
When that conflict was being waged, Joe’s family was suffering through the Potato Famine in Ireland. What I do know for sure is, one of the Bama-Boys (Jeff, I think) was hit in the head with a bottle. I know this because he pounded on my door at about 1 a.m. holding a bloody rag to his head and asked me for a ride to the clinic.
On the drive over, Jeff recounted the evening’s events after I left.
Admittedly I was hearing only one side of the story, but it sounded like, though all were guilty, Joe Lewd struck the first blow. After 20 stitches and some pain medication, Jeff slept in my back seat on the ride home. When I put him in his bed, he told me that I was one of those “Good Yankees.”
When I tell this story now, it all seems so strange and sordid. Back then, it was just another day in a life when bad behavior and poor choices were the rigeur-de-jour of youth; only a few days later we all laughed at the events.
Other than Rock, except for occasional phone calls, I’ve lost touch with all involved. I do know most have gone on to live much more normal and sedate lives; even Joe Lewd is now married.
This year I celebrated Thanksgiving with my mate and seven of my friends. Sue, Monique, Pete, Elke, Bill, Chris and Nate are far more stable than those characters from the Manson Fest. There was no whiskey or bar fights, and none of us have been recently dumped ” for that I was thankful.
I was also thankful to live in a country of such bounty, to be healthy and in love, and for every person who I’ve shared this life with, especially Joe Lewd.