Opinion | Biff America: A fowl encounter
Thanksgiving, 1987: It was a perfect storm of the volatility of youth, alcohol-fueled poor choices and geographical bigotry.
When you mixed them all together you got, what we called thereafter, ‘A Manson Family Thanksgiving’ which was a play on words of the then-popular TV special, ‘Walton Family Thanksgiving’.
It began with Bonnie, kicking ‘Scotty-Favors’ out of her house and telling him to take with him his skis, clothing and the frozen turkey (that Rock, Mean-Joe and I paid for).
Rock and I were recently single. Not sure what precipitated Rock’s break-up, but mine was caused by my lack of character. Mean-Joe was also single for reasons that will become more obvious.
It is interesting to note that though we all met in the mountains, Scotty, Rock, Joe and I grew up within 30 miles of each other on Boston’s South Shore.
As recent as the day before, we all had plans to go to Scotty-Favor’s and Bonnie’s house for the feast. We called him Favors because he was constantly doing us favors like borrowing our cars, getting them stuck, coming over to our homes, eating our food and using our bathrooms and the last of our toilet paper. That’s not to say that Favors wasn’t a good man and nice guy; back then we all were a little sketchy.
I answered my door on Thanksgiving Day and found Rock standing on my steps, and the first thing he said was, ‘ I haven’t eaten since yesterday, I’m starving.’ Mean-Joe showed up a few minutes later and echoed Rock’s sentiment. We were about to carpool to Scott and Bonnie’s place when Scotty drove up in a borrowed car with a still frozen turkey in the trunk.
His expression told the story; we were hungry, single and had no place to go.
There were several restaurants within walking distance serving turkey and all the fixings. I can’t speak for all, but I was embarrassed to have to go out to eat at a café around strangers, while the rest of the country was with friends and family.
At the time I was living next to two young guys from Alabama. They were in their early 20s, new to the mountains and I had somewhat taken them under my wing. I called them Mason and Dixon.
I knew the Bama-boys had nowhere to go and I also assumed they had no money to eat out, so after getting my friends approval I asked them to join us—our treat.
The six of us sat down and ordered. Joe opined that a perfect pairing for the holiday fowl was Wild Turkey bourbon; Mason and Dixon concurred and Rock and I went along for the ride.
I had to work in Denver very early the next morning, so after dessert of pumpkin pie and peppermint schnapps, I paid my share and headed home to bed. In a spirit of North-South reconciliation my friends headed to the bar.
I should have locked my door.
I can’t remember if it was Mason or Dixon who was standing over my bed at 1 a.m. holding a bloody rag in one hand, and a cavalry sword in the other (I’m not kidding about the sword).
Seems Mean-Joe had broken a beer bottle over his (either Mason’s or Dixon’s) head and he demanded I drive him to Joe’s house so he could get even.
Instead I took him to the emergency room.
Over the next couple days, after speaking to the bartender, I learned that sometime after dinner an argument ensued where words like ‘Damn Yankee’ and ‘Dumb Red Neck’ were bandied about. Supposedly the tipping point was when either Mason or Dixon offered an endorsement of Lee Harvey Oswald, who is blamed for killing Boston’s favorite son JFK. Mean-Joe answered with a Budweiser bottle retort.
I don’t mean to portray myself as the voice of reason of that era or this story. Though I didn’t do anything stupid that night there were many nights I did. And though I have lost touch with the Bama-Boys, the rest of the cast went on to do great things. Scotty-Favors is settled, very successful and now does real favors; Rock is happy, buffed and sober and Mean-Joe plays golf and tennis at country clubs.
Thanksgivings going forward, for us all, have been much more healthy and sedate. But just be safe, no beer is served in bottles…
Jeffrey Bergeron’s column “Biff America” publishes Mondays in the Summit Daily News. Bergeron has worked in TV and radio for more than 30 years, and his column can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He is the author of “Mind, Body, Soul.” Bergeron arrived in Breckenridge when there was plenty of parking and no stop lights. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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It was your typical ranch truck that stopped next to us — dirty, dented and hauling a horse trailer. Inside, silhouetted by the sun, were two cowboy hats and a gun rack.