I have to say that the oddest Thanksgiving we’ve had was one where Chief’s cousin and his girlfriend and a friend of mine came over. Cousin John is a friendly guy who’s a good conversationalist, funny and nice. His then-girlfriend was kind of the opposite of him. She was tense, intense and award at small-talk. Renee is super-friendly, talkative and funny. A good-time girl. She is a good friend I met through work. One of the few redeeming qualities of that particular job.
Years ago, John & his girlfriend moved to the valley so the girlfriend could go to graduate school. That didn’t last long and it’s no surprise for multiple reasons. She chose a graduate program at ASU that she wasn’t really interested in, because ASU didn’t offer her specific program. It was a related program to what she was really wanted to do. Don’t ask me what it was because it was so long ago, so obscure and she has this kind of pecking voice–really emphatic and aggressive when she’s explaining something, with an air of arrogance or maybe elitism. I’m not sure. I just got the impression that she thought she was schooling me and that I was the unfortunate sister, if you know what I mean. I was fascinated at her borderline hostility or angst about it all that the actual meaning of the words didn’t have much value for me–I was fascinated with the way the words came out of her mouth and she jerked her head around when she spoke. According to her, she decided on ASU because it was easier for John to find a job (admirable) but emphasized it wasn’t what she wanted to do (suspect). The program she wanted to go to was so geographically isolated that it would be a long commute to work for John at a job that didn’t pay well. This is what we learn right off the bat from her and that was the extent of the in-depth explanation, discussion and Q & A. She climbed off her soapbox and was pretty much done for the evening. I love a little soapbox myself, but this was just odd. She was like a wind-up toy when it loses its momentum—whirrrr—shtunk.
She nervously chain-smoked–which meant she had to go outside frequently and be away from the rest of us. She even got up during the middle of dinner to go smoke. At that point even John was a little uncomfortable with her and he got up to go outside and see what was going on (he isn’t a smoker). I say that because out our huge picture window you could see a lot of puff, puff, puff on her part and a kind of bird-like head bobbing, wing flapping and word exchange between the two of them. Thankfully, we couldn’t hear. They were out there for a long time, during the middle of dinner. Finally, I say to Chief and Renee, “I wonder what’s going on. I don’t think she likes us.” To which Renee loudly, sincerely and emphatically responds, “Oh, how could she not like us! We are fun.” (say it with a Minnesotan accent, because that’s where she’s originally from) It was one of those “you had to be there” moments, but we laughed non-stop about that. That was nearly 20 years ago and we still quote Renee and get a chuckle about that. The three of us enjoyed the rest of Thanksgiving on our own. I can’t rightly say if John enjoyed himself or not. I think he had moments that he enjoyed but his girlfriend really was stressing him. She went from being really stiff and uncomfortable to downing a lot of wine with dinner and nearly an “I love you man” persona. She did not have a good time, although she seemed to manage to relax by the time dinner was over. Not completely, because she was really wound up. However, alcohol did her good. Sadly, John had to drive home.
To complete their story, the girlfriend left Arizona before completing the program. I’m sure the program “displeased” her in every way shape and form. She set herself up for that. I’m not sure that she ever finished or what became of her. They broke up. John stayed in the Valley for a little while longer before returning to Wisconson, where he’s originally from. There really wasn’t much for him here, which is the irony of the girlfriend’s choice of ASU. They both might’ve been better off at the other prized program, depsite her “sacrifice.” Regarding Thanksgiving dinner, John told us not to worry about her behavior because the girlfriend was always uncomfortable around new people. She’s especially uncomfortable around other educated people (doctors in particular) and was always uncomfortable around John’s immediate family (John’s dad is a doctor, too). So, you have to know that that relationship was always marked “doom.”