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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Why I Hate US Thanksgiving

You might be wondering why I didn't have anything special written about the U.S. Thanksgiving this past Thursday... let's just say the only time I - a Canadian - ever tried to celebrate it, it soured me just a little.

Sometimes this blog doesn't have to be about Japan.

Here's one of the funniest scenes I have ever seen on scripted television. It's probably the most fun I've ever had with American Thanksgiving. It's from the under-appreciated WKRP In Cincinnati show.

My other top choices (non-holiday-related) are:
I Love Lucy: The chocolate assembly line
I Love Lucy: mirror gag with Groucho Marx
SNL (Saturday Night Live): John Belushi as the Incredible Hulk
SNL: Eddie Murphy's Hot Tub

You can look'em up if you want... there are just so many damn country restrictions on videos that it would tick me off if anyone was unable to view a link I provided.

There have been other great scripted scenes, of course, but those above are my favorites. There are plenty of unscripted ones, but that's neither here nor there in this case.

How about you? What is the funniest scripted scene on TV that you've seen?

Okay... so you want a Japan reference... I dislike American Thanksgiving because... back when I was in Japan, I tried to make American Thanksgiving (different from Canadian Thanksgiving - celebrated one month earlier when crops are actually being harvested) dinner for my girlfriend Ashely.

Ash is an American, and while we were both assistant English teachers in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken.

Although we had only met a few months earlier when we both arrived as part of the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme, we had been a couple pretty much all that time.

Planning the surprise Thanksgiving dinner for about two weeks, I had enlisted my Board of Education office to help me:
  1. find a turkey;
  2. find an oven that could cook such a bird;
  3. keep quiet about the whole thing.

Everything went off without a hitch - we had to have the turkey cooked in a huge oven in a restaurant in Yaita, a town 20 minutes south and west of Ohtawara.

Ashley was scheduled to show up at my apartment on Friday after work... except that she didn't.

That's the exception to "went off without a hitch".

I saw her the night before - telling her I would take her out to celebrate Thanksgiving - which from what I understand, is more of a big deal in the US than it is in Canada - mostly because we don't have that whole 'saved by the Native Americans' story in Canada.

Ashley said "sure", gave me a kiss and rode off into the night - for some reason, I did not ride my bicycle back to her place with her. It might have been her suggestion. It just didn't happen that night.

So... there I am... turkey, fixin's veggies... old booze...and there I am... a jive turkey all dressed up and no one to blow me - er, a kiss.

I made call after call to her place - worried that she might have caught some trouble - eventually getting on my bicycle and riding the 30 minutes to her place in the dark looking to see if I could spot her on the side of the road... praying she wasn't killed by an erratic driver...

I knocked on her door for a long time - she liked to take a nap after work... or anytime she could, actually... but no answer.

Can you imagine if she WAS dead? People would be wondering why I didn't ride back wit her to her place - didn't I do it every other time? Didn't we break up a month earlier? Didn't I sleep with two other women during that three-day long break-up? No, she didn't know about it? Yes, I suppose she could have found out. Well, yeah I'm pretty sure she would have been upset about it. No... we didn't have an argument about me sleeping around because I wasn't sleeping around since we weren't a couple.

The evidence is starting to mount...

So why would I spend ¥40,000 on a dinner for us? Why would I get my Board of Education office involved? What do you mean to deflect evidence against me? What evidence!?

I don't know why I didn't give any of the turkey to Matthew! No, It wasn't poisoned! At least I assume it wasn't. No, I'm not being funny. I just meant that since I didn't cook it, anyone could have poisoned it. No, that doesn't mean the turkey was poisoned!

As you can see, I have quite the active imagination, and also apparently think Japanese cops are caricatures of cops from a bad Monty Python episode.

Okay... so... The next day arrives and I haven't slept much. No Ashley on Saturday - still freaked out... I ride the path to her place again looking for her... I actually knocked on Jeanne's door (Jeanne is Canadian on JET who lives in an apartment in Ashley's building) to ask her if she's seen Ashley... nope... in fact... Ashley's bicycle isn't parked in its designated spot.

I'm freaked out... and continue my slow patrol back and forth along the paths looking for Ashley's now bloated body wedged under a patch of rice stalks...

Now... you might be asking yourself - why didn't I go to the police or something?

Well... I did the next best thing.

I called my bosses at the Board of Education office.

I told them that Ashley never showed up for our dinner date on Friday, and that I was very worried. Hanazaki-san was worried because I was worried, and promised to track down and contact her boss (a different boss structure because I was a junior high school teacher and Ashley was senior high school teacher).

Still nothing... but Hanazaki-san said that Ashley's boss was aware of the situation.

Sunday - all day long... nothing... no more information... nothing...

If Ashley's bosses were concerned, they never let me know. Same with Hanazaki... everyone was playing their cards close to the vest.

Me? I got to panic and freak out.

Finally... Sunday night at 9PM, she calls me up and says 'hi, how was your weekend?'

She's home.

Apparently, some other Americans called her up either later on Thursday evening or at school on Friday - asking her to join them for Thanksgiving celebrations down in the Tochigi-ken capital of Utsunomiya.

She did... forgot we had plans... never saw fit to let me know what she was doing.

I hung up the phone not telling her what I had done for her... went to the fridge and threw the whole effing thing out into the garbage without ever having a single effing taste.

I should have saved it for Matthew - and he bitched at me for that - but in all honesty, I was upset and pissed off... and well... you know... how would you like to think the world of someone enough to create a thanksgiving dinner for them - having to get it cooked in another effing town because there were no ovens big enough to handle the bird... and then just be ignored.

If it makes any of you feel better, when I next saw Ashley I calmly told her what I had done for her.

She felt bad, I'm sure... but you know what... I felt worse.

It cost me about $400 (¥40,000), too.

I assume her boss finally contacted Ashley... but no one mentioned it to me.

Perhaps Ashley was scolded by her boss for being irresponsible in not telling anyone where she was going - let me tell you... back in those days, and perhaps even now - those bosses of individual JETs... most of them really care about you and your welfare, not to mention their own job security.

I could then see how Ashley would hate me for getting her boss involved... and her boss perhaps now demanding Ashley tell her about her every move... and Ashley hating that, because what young woman wants to have to tell mom and dad everything? That's why many people leave home in the first place, right?

Well... nothing more was mentioned of this debacle between Ashley and I.

No... I am not Ashley's keeper, but as her boyfriend, shouldn't you at least let me know what's going on?

Anyhow... Ashley going out to visit friends... I want you to know I'm not stupid and immediately though she was cheating on me. I'm not saying she did, but I was now insecure enough to immediately think it.

And that... that is why I hate US Thanksgiving.

And that was 24 effing years ago... so apparently it still bothers me.

Enjoy your leftovers,
Andrew Joseph

1 comment:

  1. I bet that turkey would've tasted grrrrrrrreat!