And other answers to unsolicited holiday-themed questions
“How can I avoid talking about politics with my family this Thanksgiving?” — Red State Jane
You could take a vow of silence. Print out a little note in a Comic Sans font and hand it to all your loved ones this Thursday. “Jim is on a spiritual journey. It involves watching Detroit Lions’ football games in absolute silence. Thank you for your support.” People may not understand a vow of silence. But they respect them. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to talk about Hillary’s e-mails or whatever. You will just have to grimly nod to yourself.
Alternately, you could turn directly into that conversation. Shave your head, grow a goatee (particularly effective for women), get a beret, strap up a pair of Doc Martens, carry around copies of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther comics. As you read them, nod grimly to yourself. Any time someone asks you to pass the stuffing, shout, “You are being lied to!” During the family football game make sure to deflate the ball just like your personal hero, pretty-boy rebel Patriots’ QB Tom Brady. When asked what you are thankful for shout “I’m thankful for the imminent Bloody Revolution!” Be the one people walk on eggshells around. It’s not passive-aggressive, it’s aggressive-aggressive.
But, perhaps, the very best way to avoid interacting with your backwards, red-state kin is to take Nyquil just as you arrive at Thanksgiving dinner. You can blame sleepiness on tryptophan, jet lag, car sickness, stress, erectile disfunction. Whatever is going to get you out of being cornered by your uncle about your opinion about “this Hamilton thing.” They will let you sleep in someone’s big-ass bed and you’ll get to eat your plate later in absolute silence. It’s bad enough that the rubes in your life have foisted a lout into the highest office in the world. There’s no way you’re going to give them the satisfaction of feeling like they’re “winning” anything except a silly game of Rising Fascism. Tell it to my closed eyelids, creeps!
“When’s the best time to leave the city to travel for Thanksgiving?” — Worried Will
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is an insane ‘Escape from New York’ fuckfest of traffic and recriminations. So, Wednesday. Around noon. Drive right into the hot part of the volcano. This way you may not make it out of town at all. Everything is completely jammed up in every direction. It’s like Dick Cheney’s heart, nothing is getting out. Just sit in traffic for six hours and text your family hourly. Best-case scenario will be you’ll give up, go back to your apartment and have the greatest Thanksgiving of your life with whichever of your pals is still in the city and doesn’t have Thanksgiving plans. Eat bodega sushi and watch Love Actually with the people you actually love. This is what Linus would tell you is what Thanksgiving is all about. And that little thumbsucker is wise as fuck.
“I’m going to ask my girlfriend’s parents’ permission to marry their daughter at Thanksgiving. When’s the best time to do this? Before or after the big meal?” — Ready Teddy
Don’t do this. Not ever. There’s something primitive about this ritual. The only person’s permission you need to get married is the other person. There’s nothing charming or chivalrous about asking for some strangers’ blessing to marry another person. People are not property. Parents do not speak for their children. Will you be disinherited or something? Is the lordship of your powerful house in the balance? No. Then just ask the person you want to marry. And inform everyone else of their decision.
“My aunt makes the worst pumpkin pie. And my mother for some reason always tells her I love it. But it tastes like farts. She makes it especially for me. Kill me now, dude.” — Pumpkined Out Pete
This is easy. It’s the same solution as the first day of prison. You show up, pick the largest relative out of the bunch and just immediately get up in their shit. Just go wild on them. Make wild, violent gestures like air quotes and jerk-off motions. Use phrases like “Well, it’s the opposite of what you’re claiming, actually.” They will eventually punch you in the nose and you will have to go to the emergency room. Everyone will feel bad, but there’s really not much anybody can do about broken noses anyway. They will have saved you a slice of the pumpkin pie you allegedly like so much. But say, oh, great I’ll have it later. Then toss it out the window at a sign on the Merritt Parkway on your drive home.
Jim Behrle lives in Jersey City, NJ and works at a bookstore. He’s the co-host of “Sportsytalk” on WFMU.