Talk abounds in northern VA about the menu for the annual Thanksgiving clan gathering here a week from tonight.
I have been contemplating frying a turkey, a process much different from the traditional baking method.
According to The Food Channel, one must purchase two hundred dollars worth of equipment and supplies in order to dunk the unsuspecting bird in boiling peanut oil for about 45 minutes. And, according to the gent on cable, one should also have a fire extinguisher close by, just in case the turkey is too tubby for the amount of oil in the pot, causing spillover into the heating unit and a must-do call to the local fire department.
There is also talk of not-quite-defrosted turkeys exploding when placed in hot oil, blasting bird innards to the yards of neighbors, who might think there'd been a drive-by turkeying and call the authorities.
There are also lots of people sneezing here. The cold season has started, and every ah-choo reminds me of the unique remedy touted by my grandfather, John Leo Casey.
Pop Casey, as he was known, was a short Irish fellow from Jersey City who worked as a dispatcher for the Pennsylvania Railroad. He was a crusty gent, and at 5' 2" tall, called everyone he met "Shorty." He lived to get a rise out of you.
One Thanksgiving during my childhood, my mother Dottie M. came upon a Three Stooges-like scene of her father and my 7-year-old self out on his driveway. He was holding me back with his hand on my head and I was swinging my 7-year-old arms with all my might in an desperate attempt to punch him in the stomach, the result of him ticking me off about something during that happy holiday celebration. Dottie M., appalled by my un-lady-like behavior, commanded me to stop. Pop said, "Leave her alone. There is something wrong with a kid who doesn't have any spirit."
Pop would tick you off. Then, assured of your strength of character, let you in on the secrets of life. Like how to cure the common cold.
According to Pop: "If you have a cold, swallow a thumb-full of Vicks Vapo-rub and wash it down with a swig of kerosene. It'll cure whatever ails ya."
I remember sitting there, three white dots and a big cartoon balloon above my head, thinking, "This is totally whacked."
But he did use his own remedy. I witnessed it. Plus the man smoked three packs of unfiltered Pall Malls a day...and lived to be 84.
Don't anyone light a match.
Image: Turkey, by Ms. Vicky Kate Gillen, then age 8.