I'd moved to New York City for school when I was in my late teens. My mother had told me we didn’t have the funds for me to come home so I was stuck in NYC. Totally crushed at first, my mood turned around when I realized the boy I was dating wasn’t going home either. Suddenly, I wasn’t sad and mopey anymore. I was thrilled. I felt I was suddenly staring in a movie, the college kind, where hijinks and crazy stupid antics happen. And just like the movies, Thanksgiving in NYC was going to be so exciting.
A few of us not going home arranged to have a dinner. One of my fellow students, “Bob”, agreed to host and I agreed to help cook. I don’t know what I was thinking, offering to cook. I’m not a cook now and back then I was even less of a cook. But I got caught up in the excitement and offering to help cook seemed like the thing to do so offer I did.
Bob’s girlfriend was visiting. She was a senior in high school and, in my opinion, she was hoping to make herself into Bob’s fiancee before the end of the trip. We were put in charge or, or volunteered to be in charge of the kitchen. I’m not sure which it was. All I know is that Bob’s Girlfriend and I ended up in the kitchen attempting to put together a meal – the non cook and the wanna be wife. Not a great plan at all.
The turkey seemed pretty easy, once we got past to stuff or not to stuff dilemma. We went for not stuffing since we found the whole thing gross and the poor turkey had been through enough. We prepped the massive thing, both of us squealing at any bird to skin contact, turned on the oven to preheat it and put that slugger in. Job done, Bob’s girlfriend and I set about boiling the potatoes for the mashed potatoes and prepping the rest of the sides while she pumped me for information about Bob.
It’s at this point I should probably mention we were cooking on a gas range. It was the kind that had an oven below and a cooker on top. It was nothing like the electric one I’d grown up with. And nothing like the electric stove Bob’s girlfriend’s mother cooked on. Neither one of us had ever cooked with gas before. So, neither one of us knew about pilot lights on gas stoves and how sometimes they needed to be lit. And Bob neglected to mention that while the pilot light on his stove was always lit, the gas oven wasn't.
We didn’t light it. We didn't know.
And that's why Bob’s girlfriend and I were in the kitchen, giggling away at all the silly things that boys do or say when the gas building up in the oven reached the fire under the boiling potatoes aaaand BOOOOM! The oven blew open with a baaaang and pretty flames in pretty colors and I was no longer giggling over things silly boys do. I was crying over my lost eyebrows and singed eyeballs.
None of us were quite equipped to deal with the fall out, the literal fall out, of an exploded oven. All of us stood around waiting for a grown-up to step up and do something but no one in the room was enough of an adult to have a clue. I was the one that took the blast to the face; I was useless dealing with anything other than the pain. I was also too cool to actually admit I should probably go to the hospital. The rest of the crew was too drunk to really come up with a plan other than sit me on the couch, slather me in lotion, plant a glass in my hand and keep it filled with booze. And so, by 11:30am on Thanksgiving, I was eyebrow-less, eyelash-less, with singed, crispy, over lubricated skin and drunk.
Very, VERY drunk.
And that is why, despite the explosion, it was the best Macy's Thanksgiving Parade I’ve ever seen. Or kind of slightly seen. I had to keep my eyes closed as my lenses had been fried, much like the whites of an egg. So, I guess it would be more accurate to say it was the best Macy's Thanksgiving Parade I’ve ever heard. And the best turkey I never ate. Because, unlike Brother, who got to have a mellow Thanksgiving in California with Mom, I was able to say my first Thanksgiving in NYC was a blast.