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Thanksgiving, 1974: Thomas Merkle
June 21, 1946 – May 3, 1986
written by: Rex Carey Arrasmith
Early, I wait at the door, like a schoolboy;
scrubbed, grinning, ready.
Tom Merkle, aproned, arms open, answers.
He’s lovely, and my Tom can cook!
Ushered into his kitchen, I learn
his cranberry sauce doesn’t come out of can,
nor his green beans, or haricot vert; with shallots?
It’s Thanksgiving, 1974.
Feeling like an orphan,
even though my family,
only twelve miles across town,
are eating pie and watching The Game.
The TV is off,
the game here has nothing to do with football.
Better take off your shirt to mash potatoes. Insists Tom,
Mashing potatoes can be a messy business.
I slip off my vintage rayon bowling shirt,
Leona stitched on the pocket. In the fridge,
I grab butter, cheese, and sour cream.
How much butter do I use?
Last Tango in Paris loops
“go get the butter,”
Tom is gracious as I clumsily try
not to appear clueless.
Setting the table, a minefield of doubt,
opening the wine, a grenade.
I’m sent to answer the door.
I’m shoeless, shirtless, purposeful.
Suddenly shy, I find my shirt.
Dinner is served,
family style. The table talk,
thick with innuendo, double entendre.
I drink too much,
laugh too loud,
knock over the Margaux,
soak the table and the guests,
then commit seppuku by corkscrew.
Two wine-soaked guests get naked,
two more, when in Rome. Tom strips then winks.
OK, I guess so, standing on one leg,
hands help pull off my jeans, my Calvin’s.
Anyone for pie? No, just whipped cream,
some chocolate. I know what’s coming next,
I am dessert. Is this what I want?
Uh huh, but in front of everyone?
Yeah, well, when in Rome.
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