Here’s hoping that you had a happy Thanksgiving. The Williams clan collected, as they do each year, at our house to see one another, to talk about family members who didn’t come, and to savor the festive fare prepared by my lovely wife, Grace. These times together are memorable milestones in a family’s history. This year’s gathering was made a little more memorable than most by the introduction of a new (to us, at least) technology in Thanksgiving turkeydom: the fried turkey.
Some weeks ago, I suggested that we try this new turkey technique. Grace replied, “We’ll see.”
“We’ll see” are two innocent-sounding words that Grace uses a lot in place of “no (fill in the word of your choice) way,” or in this case, in place of “Are you crazy? You’ll burn the house down!” Still, I took her “We’ll see” as an approximate approval (big mistake) and bought a turkey fryer, the chrome and brass model—guys love chrome and brass. When I confessed what I had done, Grace reluctantly agreed to let me fry the turkey for this year’s banquet.
It was then that I noticed two other words printed on the package: “assembly required.” Those are two words that strike fear into the hearts of most men, MIT grads excluded. Six hours and two trips to Lowe’s for tools later, I got the darn thing assembled. Grace suggested that we give it a trial run to ensure that things would run smoothly on the big day. I countered that they didn’t need to do a trial run of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Grace closed the discussion by reminding me that they didn’t do a trial run of the Hindenburg either, and as far as she was concerned, it was my parade.
On Thursday morning, my turkey fryer and I were ready to go. The fryer sat by the garage (Grace wouldn’t allow it closer to the house), glistening in the sun. I donned my “Boss of the Sauce” apron, then patted the turkey fryer and gave it a pep talk. “This is it, girl.” Men seem to always address exotic machinery in the feminine gender. I filled her with peanut oil and turned her on to the recommended temperature.
At the appointed time, relatives began to descend on the household. Kids played in the yard and raced throughout the house. The ladies assembled around the kitchen island with last-minute preparations. The men encircled the turkey fryer, looking intently at the new contraption. I imagined that this was how it might have been a hundred years ago when another small group of pioneers gathered on a hilltop in Kitty Hawk.
“Think she’ll fly, Dalton?” asked my brother Mark.
“Better point her into the wind,” added brother-in-law Tom.
It was nearing time for the inaugural fry. After fetching the turkey from the kitchen, I noticed that the fryer temperature was now far beyond the point at which I had set it. Cousin Ronnie saw me looking at the dial and spoke up.
“Turned her up for you, Dalton. Can’t fry nothing less you get it good and hot!”
Cousin Ronnie had worked a spell in the fast-food business; so, I figured he knew frying. You have to respect experience.
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