This Birthday is a Turkey

December 3, 2019

My sister’s birthday fell on Thanksgiving this year. Growing up, my sister hated, hated, hated it when her birthday fell on Thanksgiving. I can’t really blame her. Who wants to share their special day with a freaking turkey? And while she was partial to pie, birthdays are cake occasions, and she wanted her due.


Personally, I think she hated having her birthday on Thanksgiving because then she couldn’t torment me with the monstrosity that is Shipwreck Casserole. I mean, we did eventually have it (and the cake) but torture is so much sweeter on your birthday, I guess.

Thanksgiving felt hard this year. I threw up all day and all night, but I think it was unrelated because I throw up a lot these days. Still, we had to cancel Thanksgiving and we had crushing snowstorms and winds the entire week which just seemed to add to the misery. I think my sister would have approved.


I did raise my spirits a little by thinking of one of my silliest November 28 memories involving my spitfire of a sibling. Many moons ago, I spent Thanksgiving working behind the bar at a restaurant (a mortal sin that my Mama never let me forget). Halfway through my shift (about 6pm) my manager taps me on the back.

“You have a phone call,” he says. “Make it quick. We’re in the weeds.”

Yeah, I know, asshole. Who do you think is deep in the thicket, pouring hooch? Jesus.


“Dude,” she hisses through the line. “NEVER do that again. Never leave me home on Thanksgiving with the parentals ever again, especially on my birthday.”

I laugh.

“Shut up, moron! It was terrible. All we did was sit and look at each other. YOU OWE ME. What time do you get off work?”

“Ten,” I say. “But I’m woofed. For real. I just want to sit down and forget about today.”

“Didn’t you hear me? You owe me, ass. I’ll pick you up at ten. We’re going out. You’re fucking buying. I’ll bring you something to wear.”

“That prospect is terrifying,” I say.

My manager comes around the corner, glowering. Okay, I mouth. “I gotta go.”

“Be ready,” she says. “I so need out of here.”


Of course, it’s freezing outside and my sister brings me a dress the size of a postage stamp.

I shiver all the way to the bar–an upstanding establishment called “Whiskey Bill’s.”

She’s already half-lit, cradling a beer between her legs and driving too fast.

“Slow down! Jesus.”

“Shut up. It’s been a day, and it’s my birthday. I deserve to have some fun.” She turns up the Van Halen.


And fun she has. She dances her birthday butt off and flirts with some guy named Roland (!?!) who seems totally sketchy and drinks more than her share of tequila.

The minute Slick Roland leans in for a kiss, I know it’s time to drag her out of there.

“Food,” she slurs. “I need food.”

There’s an IHOP across the street so we navigate over the icy corners into the utter chaos that is IHOP at 2am. She orders a steak, for Chrissakes, at the IHOP. Then she realizes she’s too wasted to navigate the steak (?) knife to cut the thing so she eventually gives up and picks the thing up like a chicken leg, gnawing away.

“Eat up and we’re going home,” I say. “I’ll drive. You brought my glasses, right?”

Of course she didn’t. She was too busy picking the smallest dress in the drawer out and booking the Hell out of there. But now we’re kind of in a pickle because I am both blind and night blind, and she sure as heck isn’t going to drive.

I look across the restaurant and there are two men in police uniforms eating pancakes and bacon.


“Hey,” I say, sidling into the booth, startling the heck out of the two grizzled-looking dudes.

“Ummm, hi. I’m sorry to bother you, but my sister and I are kind of in a situation? Can I get some help or some advice or something?”

They shoot an amused look across the booth at each other. “Sure, Miss.”

“Okay. Uh. My sister over there?” I gesture towards the booth. “She’s had a bit too much to drink.”

My sister picks this exact moment to manhandle the steak up to her mouth and chomp away.

“Apparently,” one of the officers says.

“Yeah. Well. Normally I’d be driving us home right now but she forgot to bring my glasses and I’m pretty blind without them…and…I can call a cab this late, right?”


“Okay,” I sigh, relieved. “Thanks for that. Is there any cab company more reliable than the other? Do you know?”


“Wait. This is a truck,” my sister giggles. “Where’s the cop car?”

“I’m working security tonight,” the more weathered of the cops answers. “We moonlight sometimes for extra cash. Tonight it was the rockin’ Casa Bonita.”

We slide into the front of the truck. My sister giggles again. “Did you catch any Banditos tonight?”

He laughs a little. “A few.”


We pull up to a stoplight and my sister–apparently bored–flips open the glove compartment and is delighted.

“Aha! Handcuffs!”  She grabs them and shakes them around so they clank and clatter.

“Omigod!” I grab them, mortified. “Put those back. It’s not polite to riffle through someone’s shit, Cin.”  I click them back into the glove box. “Sorry.”

He just laughs a little and shakes his head. “You have your hands full, there.”

“Tell me about it.”


He drops us at the door of my sister’s apartment complex.

“Thank you,” I say. “You’re a nice man.”

He smiles wryly. “I try.”

“You are awesome!” my sister chirps and then leans over and plants an enormous smooch on the fella.

“Cin! Get out of the car! Now!” I yell.

The cop, startled, starts to laugh. “Ummm, yeah, get out of the car.” He shakes his head.

He looks pointedly at me and says, “And for Chrissakes, be careful out there.”


As if there’s any such thing with my sister around.



{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

elizabeth December 4, 2019 at 10:38 am

First of all, you totally look like Amy Poehler in that one photo, so that’s pretty cool.

I can only imagine how difficult this time of year must be, but I’ll email you about that as it’s best left off a comments section.


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