Tired of staring at lumps of starch in your refrigerator left over from Thanksgiving dinner? Don’t throw them away! Here are six great recipes that will turn Turkey Day rejects into December treats!
Stuffing Puppies: Roll stuffing into 3″ balls, sprinkle with flour and paprika. Heat oil in skillet and brown. Place in freezer until solid. Remove at Christmas time and hurl at carollers.
Turkey Hokey Pokey: This “comfort food” is great and easy to make! Melt 1/4 cup butter, add 1/2 cup flour and whisk. Add 1/4 cup sherry, 1 cup cream, 2 2/3 cup chicken broth, 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 3 cup chopped turkey and 1/2 lb. mushrooms-salt and pepper to taste. Place 10 oz. cooked spaghetti in baking dish and top with mixture. Put your right foot in, take your right foot out. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.
Mashed Potato Mortar: Add 1 cup gypsum, 1 cup sand and a dash of allspice to two quarts leftover mashed potatoes. Using a trowel, spread between gaps in exterior brick walls and allow to dry. Garnish with parsley.
Turkey Piazza: Strip dark meat from drumsticks and thighs. Spread with linseed oil and flatten with a meat mallet. Spread generously over patio. Flatten with a sod roller and coat with extra virgin olive oil. Children on “boogie boards” should wear helmets while sliding across the finished surface.
Cranberry Shells: Add two packages Knox’s Unflavored Gelatin to cranberry sauce and stuff back into cans. When mixture congeals, stuff down barrel of howitzer and fire. Caution: May be considered a violation of Geneva Convention in some upscale neighborhoods.
Turkey Terza Rima: Add mayonnaise to turkey scraps. Mold mixture into three-line stanzas using a progressive rhyme scheme such as a-b-a, b-c-b, etc. Submit to high-toned literary quarterly along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope and wait. When rejection letter is received, launch cranberry shells and stuffing puppies at editor. Repeat until satisfied.
Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”
WESTLAND, Mass. In this exurban town fifteen miles west of Boston, starter homes begin at $1.3 million and there are few two-income households, leaving many stay-at-home moms with time and money to go overboard on holiday decorating. “It goes beyond creating a festive mood,” says Marci Griener-Wilson as she plugs in her Martha Stewart autograph model glue-gun, “the way crashes make NASCAR more than just a car race.”
But with local progress in diversity consisting largely of inviting a Presbyterian to join an Episcopalian bridge club, there is a tendency towards homogeniety that makes it tough on judges for the annual Women’s League Christmas Decorating Tour, the organization’s largest fund-raiser. “There are so many lovely homes that could be included,” says club president Alice “Winnie” Wilson. “You have to make close calls and cut some women because of their innate tackiness.”
“. . . and congratulations to Winnie for freezing out that bitch Mary Louise Olshinski!”
Those hard decisions inevitably lead to hurt feelings which in the past have been sublimated into a greater involvement in club activities, but this year was different. “I’m sorry, when you bake 15 life-size gingerbread men for your front lawn, you expect more than a ‘Better luck next year’ kiss-off evaluation sheet,” says Mary Louise Olshinski, who incurred the wrath of Winnie Wilson when she cut her off for a parking space in front of the local needlepoint shop.
So Olshinski organized her own alternative house tour, which she dubbed “Counter Christmas.” “It’s the most rebellious thing I’ve done since I went to a Strawberry Alarm Clock concert with Mike Herbsheimer in high school,” says the fifty-something housewife with a plaid headband. “I’m just glad my parents are dead, because I don’t know that they’d approve.”
Drawing inspiration from the underground concerts organized by saxophonist Sam Rivers to showcase cutting-edge acts excluded from the Newport Jazz Festival in the 70′s, Olshinski’s “Counter Christmas” is a tour of the dark places in upscale suburban homes. “We take people into the recycling bins, the kitty box rooms–everywhere that the decorating magazines refuse to show you,” she says as she is called away by her front doorbell.
“We’re here for Counter Christmas,” an elderly woman announces as a gust of cold air blows past Olshinski. “Come right in,” she says to a group of three. “We’re just about to begin the 11 o’clock tour.”
After a leisurely stroll through a cluttered garage, attic crawl space and basement utility room, Olshinski brings the group to the final stop on the tour in her kitchen. “This is really the black hole of Counter Christmas,” she says, “the place where no matter how much of a shine you put on the rest of your house, you find that it’s still–at bottom–a sneaker. Voila,” she proclaims as she throws open her refrigerator, which is stuffed with staples as well as holiday delights.
“Ooo, my goodness,” says Blanche Furbois, the wife of a retired insurance agent. “That certainly looks like it’s chock-full of goodies!”
“Thank you, Blanche,” Olshinski says, “but if you’ll come closer, I want you to notice one detail in particular.”
The women crowd around and Olshinski urges the family’s pet rabbit “Fluffy” to move to one side to afford them a better view. “See that microwave-safe baking dish back in the back?” she asks.
“Yes,” Furbois says hesitantly after craning her neck.
“That’s last year’s oyster-and-sausage stuffing!”
Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Blurbs From the ‘Burbs.”
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. It’s the Sunday night after Thanksgiving, and Lieutenant Jim Hampy of the Massachusetts State DMVD is on patrol in the Metrowest area of Boston, on the lookout for students home from college with too much time on their hands and beer in their bellies. “I’m not sure how much longer I can take this beat,” he says with resignation as he watches a carful of twenty-somethings beat a hasty retreat when they spot his car parked behind Ye Olde Package Store, a faux-Colonial retail liquor outlet that is the last place to buy booze before a driver goes through two “dry” towns. “The things you see out here–it’ll turn your stomach.”
Hampy decides not to give chase and takes a sip from his “lahge” Dunkin Donuts regular coffee. “I got bigger fish to fry tonight,” he says. “I been tailin’ a gang of girls for almost a year now. I got a suspicion they’ll be out in force, since they’re probably sick of their parents and this is the last night before they go back to school.”
The instincts of the “statie,” as his adversaries in this cat-and-mouse game refer to him, prove correct as a Volvo blasts down the highway loaded to the gills with six girls, singing songs from their senior year in high school. “Suspects heading west on Route 20, send backup,” he says as he accelerates out of the parking lot, without, however, turning on his siren or flasher. “I don’t want ‘em to know I’m coming,” he says.
The girls have a quarter-mile lead that is lengthened when Hampy is forced to stop at a red light, but he seems unperturbed. “It’s okay, I want to catch ‘em in the act,” he says, and his game plan works to perfection as he pulls up at the dangerous intersection where the girls have set up a makeshift–and illegal–memorial in honor of Amanda Skrulnik, a classmate of theirs whose cheerleading career was tragically cut short when she broke her femur in a car crash last New Year’s Eve.
“I . . . I tried to rhyme ‘awesome’ with ‘possum.’”
“Those things are a fire hazard, and people could mistake them for a traffic signal,” he says unconvincingly, referring to the tall votive candles the girls have kept burning since that horrible night. As he cuts his headlights and cruises slowly to a stop, it becomes clear that safety concerns are secondary to him, however. “Worst of all is the poetry,” he says, shaking his head. “I hope no daughter of mine ever writes nothin’ as bad.”
He exits the car along with this reporter and makes his presence known to the girls, who are sobbing quietly. “Good evening ladies,” he says, and it is clear to this reporter that he maintains an air of professional calm only with difficulty. “I thought we reached an understanding there last summer,” he says, as he plucks a piece of paper from the paws of a stuffed animal at the roadside shrine and begins to read aloud, his voice at times betraying his overflowing emotions:
We really miss you, Dear Amanda,
On the sidelines where you cheered with flair.
We know your favorite animal was the panda
but we could only find this Teddy Bear.
Hampy looks at the girls one by one, as if scanning a police station lineup. “I want to know who wrote this,” he says gently but firmly. “Tracy? Lindsey? Chloe?”
Amanda: She will never *sniff* cheer again!
The girls from the back seat are silent, so he continues. “Siobhan? Whitney? Courtney?”
The last-named friend finally cracks. “It wasn’t any one of us–it was all of us, a joint effort,” she says.
Hampy groans involuntarily. “Haven’t I told you–poetry is the product of a unique and individual vision. It’s not something you write by committee, like the mission statement of a non-profit that wants to rid the world of trans-fats. Now clean this up and go home.”
The girls are properly chastened and get to work at a routine they have down pat; extinguishing the flames, removing beads, stuffed animals and signs, and crumpling up their roadside elegies, as commanded by a duly-authorized officer of the Massachusetts Department of Motor Vehicle Doggerel.
Today finds Hampy in a public service assembly at Pumpsie Green Consolidated Regional High School, lecturing a gym full of bored and inattentive kids about the dangers of roadside poetry. “For the first offense, all you got to do is take the Junior Operator Scansion Adjustment Seminar,” he says, drawing no reaction from the students. “It’s three Saturdays,” he adds, eliciting sighs and the rolling of many eyes.
“Second offense, you got to go to the Do Not Go Premature Into That Good Night Retreat.” The young men and women are paying attention now, as Hampy pauses for effect. “That’s a whole weekend.” Groans are heard from several students, but Hampy cuts them off to let them know it could get even worse.
“These are good kids–they just write crappy poetry.”
“Finally, after three violations or refusal to comply with prescribed meter or rhyme scheme mandated by court order, we impose the death sentence.”
“What’s that?” asks Wade Aucoin, a pimply 15-year-old in the first row of the bleachers.
“Permanent revocation of your poetic license.”
DOWNER’S GROVE, Il. It’s Saturday night in this suburb of Chicago, and Dan Gruenberg is regaling friends with a tale of an incident at his office that has them poised for the punch line. “So the office manager comes in wearing an all-black outfit and sees Tina from accounting at the single-cup coffee machine with a packet of Sweet ‘n Low,” he says, about to burst into laughter himself. “It was . . . like . . . a Monty Python episode,” he says, his voice trailing off. “Or something,” he adds weakly.
“Well–which one was it?”
“Which Monty Python episode?” his friend Royal Blucher asks, genuinely interested and not trying to put Gruenberg on the spot. “The one with the dead parrot, the one with the foreign phrase book that says ‘My nipples are bursting with pleasure’? Which?”
“I . . . I don’t know,” Gruenberg says nervously, and his wife Debra comes to his assistance. “Honey, would you mind going out to the kitchen and cutting some more pork tenderloin?” she says, and Dan quickly agrees, excusing himself from the table with obvious relief.
The Wild and Crazy Guys: A veritable quicksand pit for DHS sufferers.
Gruenberg suffers from Derivative Humor Syndrome (DHS), an ailment that strikes one in seven American males, rendering them incapable of joking except by second-hand reference even when confronted with a situation that reeks of comic possibilities. “They’ll say ‘This is like a Saturday Night Live sketch, or an Abbott & Costello routine,” says Dr. Marlon Minoz of the Overg Institute for the Study of Social Embarrassment in Mankato, Minn. “They’d like to say it in their own words–but they can’t.”
Abbott & Costello: “So my kid hit a single and he was standing on first like . . .”
Remedial therapy is not covered by health insurance, and so DHS victims often become resigned to their fate and lurk quietly on the fringes of social gatherings, hoping that nothing will strike them as funny in the conversations they are afraid to join. “We were on a cruise and my relatives crowded into our stateroom,” says Gail Lerner, whose husband Mike inherited DHS from his father. “I could see Mike struggling to say ‘This is like the scene from A Night at the Opera,’ but he successfully fought off the impulse. I was so proud of him.”
A Night at the Opera
Gail completed the cruise alone as her husband suffered a fatal seizure from the effort required to restrain himself, but she says she will make sure their two kids always remember their father’s valiant struggle to say something original. “It won’t be easy, I know,” she says with a lump in her throat. “When I get home, I’ll have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.”
The Boston Public Library is a place that inspires conflicting emotions in me; it was here that I retreated during a period of great uncertainty in my life, between jobs, to see if I could become an inventor. I buried myself in the patent library, then a collection of use-worn books and microfilm, along with a regular group of obvious crackpots, trying to develop a coffee warmer whose temperature would decrease as the weight of the pot was reduced by the gradual removal of the liquid within.
I had spent too many nights working late at the firm I’d just left only to discover, when I rounded the corner into the little kitchen opposite my office, that the glass globe of the pot had burst from overheating, sending glass flying and spilling coffee. I had an idea—granted, a little one—and I wanted to make the world a better place.
Like many other would-be inventors who frequented the library’s main branch in Copley Square, nothing ever came of my idea. I found some prior art that might be infringed upon by my design—the property of a large Japanese manufacturer–and so gave up, although I continued to haunt the halls and stairs of the library in my temporary idleness; I had nowhere to go, nothing to do for two weeks until my new job started, so why not make the most—or the least—of it.
I wandered around, taking in the wall paintings of The Quest and Achievement of the Holy Grail, culminating in the ascension of Sir Galahad into heaven. It was during one such reverie that I felt a presence beside me and turned to see the master himself, Jorge Luis Borges, the Blind Bard of Argentina.
“The story of the Holy Grail—interests you?” he asked quietly.
“The tale of the quest. It is as old as Homer. Every people that has passed more than a brief period on earth has fashioned one, and told and re-told it through generations.”
He seemed a genial docent of the place, which struck me as odd knowing that while he was the most literate of men, he created in The Library of Babel a place that drove its occupants to madness, murder, despair. The narrator of the story has traveled since he was a youth in search of a book in The Library of Babel; now aged and blind, he expects that he will die not far from where he was born, in the same library. Then he believes he will thrown over a railing by others, and that his body will fall endlessly in infinite space until it is dissolved by the force of the air that his down-rushing body cuts through.
“Yes, although I am a homebody, not an Odysseus,” I replied. “I don’t stray far from this neighborhood.”
“You are . . . a yuppie?” he asked hesitantly, reluctant to offend, but instinctively striving for le mot juste.
“Yes. Between jobs.”
“Umm. But you have something—lined up?”
“Yes. I thought I would take a couple weeks off, see if I could use them to break out of my rut.”
“Which rut is that?”
“The careerist 9-to-5 routine. I was trying to invent something, but it looks as if I have failed, and so I go back to the salt mines.”
“You wanted to make a lot of money with this invention of yours—correct?”
“Yes. It was a coffee warmer.”
He doesn’t seem impressed. “You should not be critical of yourself. Many people fail at what they set out to do.”
“True,” I say. “Still, it makes my upcoming return to the grind of work that much more painful.”
“It could be worse,” he says.
“You could come to the end of your career after having failed to do much of anything, and be pushed out of your job for incompetence or corruption or misconduct. And then you announce to the world that you are going to write your memoir—and never finish it.”
Seen in that light, he was right. I had many years of drudgery ahead of me, with at least the possibility of success—and a not-too-shabby paycheck along the way. “You’re right, but how often does what you describe happen?”
“Walk this way,” he said, then turned and tapped his cane on the floor as he lead me down a long hallway. I tried to walk his way, extending my hand like a blind man, but there were people watching me with disapproval so I gave up.
I followed him into a hexagonal room, which give out onto another, which led to a third, and so on. “Do you see this endless succession of book-lined studies?” he asked.
“They are filled with the unwritten memoirs that provincial Bostonian celebrities said they were going to write after they left the 60-watt glare of your local spotlight, but never did.”
Now that he mentions it, I realize he’s right. Every blow-dried anchorman, politician, executive director of a non-profit group or arts organization–when they shuffle off to well-deserved obscurity after having been cashiered by their board, or corporate headquarters in New York, or the Attorney General or a grand jury, they all say they’re going to take some time off and write a book. As if that’s an easy thing to do.
“You know, I actually won a bet on that subject a while back,” I say.
“Which one was that?”
“I don’t want to mention any names so as not to crack the thin veneer of fictional shellac I’ve brushed onto the facts . . .”
“Stop—please!” he says. “I commune with immortals, I don’t have time for your shaggy-dog conceits spun out to thirteen decimal places.”
Okay, so I got a little carried away, but can you blame me? I’m with a guy who opened the doors into the realm of the divine when I first read him at the age of eighteen. No more Steve Miller Band for me. Well, maybe “Space Cowboy,” the garish yellow album, but that was it.
“Fine,” I said. “So—show me around.”
He looks up as if he can see the spines of the books that line the walls. “This room contains the unwritten memoirs of politicians,” he said. “Within each book is the truth that one of your elected officials was too cowardly to reveal. Each eventually gave up or, if they hired a ghost to write for them, chose to conceal.”
It is indeed an impressive collection; the partisan who claimed to be non-partisan, the man who spoke continually of our state constitution as the treasure of our Commonwealth, then violated it whenever it stood in the way of his ambition. The three—three!—consecutive Speakers of our distinguished House of Representatives convicted of crimes; a fourth who narrowly missed indictment, perhaps because prosecutors got tired of the same boring routine.
“These politicians—I notice that they are all from the same party.”
“Yes,” I reply. “Democrats are so successful here, they leave no corruption for the Republicans!”
“Si—it is unfair.”
I examine a few titles, but find nothing that causes me to linger. “Interesting,” I say, “but unremarkable. Everyone knows politicians don’t tell the truth, so whoever buys a political autobiography is on notice that it is shoddy goods. It is like buying a pillow with the ‘Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law’ tag missing.”
Borges hears me out, his hands on his cane, his body rocking ever so slight. “Si,” he says. “There is nothing to be learned here.”
We move on to the next room, which has higher ceilings lined with bulging shelves. “This is the Chamber of Excuses,” Borges says.
“Excuses for cowardly acts?”
“No—excuses for not writing,” he says. He lets his hand slip along the backs of the books until he finds, by feel, the one he is looking for. “Here,” he says. “Read this.”
He pulls out a book with the words “Social Media” on the spine and hands it to me. I allow it to fall open in my outspread hands. “Writing is 3% talent, 2% inspiration, and 95% staying off of Facebook,” I read aloud.
“True—no?” he asks with a sly smile on his face.
“Si,” I say. It’s a good thing we are inland and not near the ocean or I would say si by the sea. “You know our great director Oliver Stone?”
“The overweight paranoid?”
“That is him. He has an equation for writers: Ass + Seat = Writing.”
“Ah,” Borges says, tossing his head back slightly, appreciating the wisdom, the humor, the insight of the director of Natural Born Killers.
“Tell me, Jorge . . .”
“Please—call me Borges. Everybody else does.”
“Okay . . . Borges. I’ve seen enough—let’s move on.”
“On to the next room,” he says, and we enter a cavernous hall with high vaulted ceilings. “This,” Borges says, his free hand sweeping upwards, “is the Hall of Self-Delusion.”
“And who are the Self-Deluded?”
“The insignificant personality, thrust into the local spotlight by circumstance, merely because he or she is next in line, to strut and fret its hour upon the stage.”
If he’s going to start quoting Shakespeare, I’m going to have to take my game up a notch. “Like Rostand’s Chantecler, the rooster who believes his crowing makes the sun come up?”
“Precisely,” Borges says.
“Like the local weatherman who began to think of himself as a rock star, and hit on the daughter of friends of mine at a Christmas party?”
“Like . . . Nick Jagger?” I don’t correct him, figuring the library’s Braille editions of Newsweek from the sixties have been worn down to the point where they’re unreadable, and change the subject.
“What else can I learn in this library?”
“Follow me,” he says, and we begin to descend a spiral staircase, the kind I used to imagine I walked down as the last phase of self-hypnosis. We reach a dark room, one without the airy feel of the sequential chambers on the ground floor. It is the basement; the scene recalls for me Saturday Story Hours of my youth, and my mother’s misbegotten effort to spark my interest in flowers at the local Ladies Garden Club, Junior Division.
Borges walks unsteadily but without incident, holding the railing with one hand, his cane in the crook of his elbow, his other arm gliding around the center pole. The room is dark, a matter of indifference to him, but of some import to me until my eyes adjust to the absence of light. I take the last few steps gingerly and when my foot hits the floor, stop to reconnoiterer, as my 8th grade English teacher would put it.
Borges knows the way but I don’t, and so I must feel my way along the walls. “Where are we going?” I ask.
“To the Vault of Micturition.” I’m not sure what that means, and I’m getting nervous, but I can’t turn back and . . . just leave him here.
“Come,” he says. He’s put his cane down again and his tapping echoes from the stone floor down the long corridor. “We are almost there.”
My vision begins to return just as he stops. “This is it.” He must know exactly how far to go to every destination; sightless, he must have memorized each route and numbered the steps his feet must take. He raises his hand to the door, pushes it open, and—a burst of brightness explodes out of a white-tiled room, making me, like him, blind.
“What . . . where are we?” I ask.
“The men’s room. The lights come on automatically when you walk in.”
CAMP DAVID, Md. President Barack Obama declared Friday a National Day of Leftovers after a Thanksgiving Day Dinner that included a dish prepared by Marian Robinson, his mother-in-law, that he pushed around on his plate but did not finish.
“Our enemies abroad deserve to eat this stuff,” said Obama’s prepared text for his traditional Thanksgiving radio address. “We are going to wrap it up and send it to them along with 34,000 additional troops.”
Obama’s daughters also refused to eat the dish, saying it smelled of onions and tuna. The President will place the remains in an unmarked chafing dish at the Tomb of the Unknown Casserole in Arlington, Virginia.
The President typically “pardons” two National Thanksgiving Turkeys but declined to do so this year for fear that he would be accused of being soft on crime by Republicans. “These two turkeys were responsible for identity theft, carjacking and intimidating a witness,” said U.S. Attorney Karl May. “They will be deep-fried and served as Popcorn Chicken at a KFC franchise in Washington.”
The first American leftovers were a by-product of the Thanksgiving celebration held in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621. Uneaten butternut squash and jellied cranberries were given to members of the Wampanoag tribe as they left the feast, touching off a bloody two-year conflict that claimed the lives of nearly a hundred people and depressed retail sales during the first Christmas shopping period.
The children of the Plymouth Colony were especially grateful to Squanto, a Native American and former British slave, who taught them to bury fish to fertilize corn fields. “If you hide the food you don’t like,” he told them, “you don’t have to eat it.”
Dorothy Parker, just for a lark,
wrote a poem we remember
for what’s now called “snark”:
“Men seldom make passes
at girls who wear glasses,”
rings down through the years
and one guesses its laughter is watered with tears.
Back in the day before contact lenses,
return with me now as her amanuensis
to tell you the tale of an optometrist
whose practice precluded all romantic trysts.
She could hardly tell people that eyewear’s a problem;
she’d lose all her patients as soon as she’d got them.
So she wore her glasses wherever she went;
she thus had no luck with unattached gents,
and therefore she suffered as Parker foreshadowed;
her first beau said “no,” and the rest all said “ditto.”
But I liked the look retro–
the sturdy black glasses
you saw on the metro
on avant-garde lasses.
It adds one more layer
For one to remove
After spending the day
Viewing nudes at the Louvre.
Horn-rimmed specs on
The bridge of the nose
Is the nasal version
Of legs with hose;
The greater the number of impediments
The hotter the erotic sentiments–
Nature creates romantic suction
By fences and snares to a woman’s seduction.
So when to her office I went for a check up
the hottest part of her was straight from her neck up.
I sat in her chair and I read rows of letters
The sizes got smaller–I didn’t get better.
She checked me for pink eye, and also glaucoma
I hoped she’d ignore my cheese pizza aroma.
My passions rose higher as she wrote my prescription
I lusted in ways that would beggar description.
I couldn’t let go— I needed her badly
So stalling for time I said to her madly:
“Please make sure that you have all the facts—
You haven’t run tests yet to find cataracts;
Or the dreaded curse of a detached retina—
In one of my two eyes, I’ve got one, I’ll bet ya.”
She leaned over on me, the better to see stuff;
’twas now or never To devour this cream puff.
I hugged her so tightly
Time entered suspension;
I came to myself
And she asked my intentions.
“I don’t care if your glasses
Are Coke bottle bottoms
Leave the things on,
as long as you’ve got ‘em.
Remove, if you would,
all your other accoutrements
Your harlequin frames
are a romantic nutriment.
“And then when you’re nekkid,
Except for your specs,
We’ll have wild if blurry
Moral: You never know what will turn a guy on.
From “The Girl With the Cullender on Her Head (and Other Wayward Women)” available in Kindle and print format on amazon.com.
Despite the ‘beatnik’ stereotype, Kerouac was a political conservative. He supported the Vietnam War and became friendly with William F. Buckley.
Levi Asher, beatmuseum.org
It’s Republican Party caucus night across Massachusetts and I’m picking up Jack Kerouac for a talk on “Supply Side Themes in the Poetry of Gregory Corso.”
I pull up to his home in Lowell and ring the doorbell. His mother comes out and says “He’s in his room. Ti Jean!” she yells, a boyhood term of endearment.
“We won’t be late ma,” Jack says as he emerges.
Corso: “Jack really knowns his fiscal stuff!”
“You better not be drunk when you come home,” she says, trying to impose some discipline on her boy.
“I’m drunk now, so that would be an improvement,” he cracks; his mother doesn’t find this funny.
“Make sure he eats,” she says to me. “Otherwise the tokay“–the cheap wine he favors–”goes straight to his head.”
Jack is in the car trying to find some jazz on the radio.
“There’s nothing on the air these days,” he says, but I point out something new.
“You can play records in your car now–these little thingies.” I put some Charlie Parker in the CD player.
“Blow, man, blow!” Jack says as Bird launches into “Ornithology.” “Where we going again?”
“MetroWest Republican Caucus.”
“We can’t get enough people for a quorum in just one town, so three committees merged.”
“I miss Bill Buckley!” he says in disgust as he looks out his window.
“I never really warmed up to him.”
“He was ARTICULATE!” Jack shouts with a wild look in his eye. He stares out the window and says quietly “I feel so old.”
“You won’t tonight,” I say. “Every time I walk into one of these soirees I lower the average age two decades.”
Buckley and Kerouac
We turn off 128 to Route 30. The houses are few and the streets are dark.
“Nice neighborhood,” Jack says. “You know what I hate? The hippies who camp out on my lawn.”
“The price of fame.”
“It’s not fair to mom. She never wrote any wild and crazy novels.”
We park the car and enter an old Yankee home with a roaring fire inside. Thankfully the house has a fireplace, otherwise things could get dicey.
“We’ve got some nice elephant-accented clothing and accessories!”
“Hello Polly,” I say, greeting an older woman who has–as usual–messed up the rouge on her cheeks; maybe “testing” the martinis before guests arrived.
“Hello!” our hostess says. “Is this our distinguished speaker?” she asks; I’m guessing she missed the Beat Generation the first time around.
I introduce Jack and he diplomatically admires the furnishings; ”Great Eisenhower commemorative plate!” he gushes when he gets close to the mantel. “I’ve got the Hoover and the Coolidge.”
“We should get started,” Polly says. “This crowd goes to bed right after Wheel of Fortune.”
She taps her glass and introduces Jack from a cheat sheet I give her. “He wrote ‘On the Road’ and he’s the foremost writer of the ‘beats’ to embrace conservatism. Let’s give a warm welcome to Jack Kerouac!”
The crowd applauds and Jack blushes.
“Thanks, Polly” Jack says, and suddenly he’s the shy football scholarship boy of seventy years ago.
“The press portray conservatives as cold and cruel,” he begins, “but nothing could be further from the truth.” He clears his throat. “No way, baby,” and I detect an antic note in his voice.
“We are the mad ones, the crazy ones. We’re the ones who know that extending unemployment benefits kills people’s incentive to work!’”
“Yeah, man!” a guy in a bow tie shouts.
“The business of the federal government is NATIONAL DEFENSE! Not a bunch of do-gooder stuff!”
“Go, man, go!” someone shouts–Jack is riffing like a bebopper at a jam session. Someone begins to play bongo drums, and a woman writhes seductively to the rhythm.
I go out to the kitchen and Polly pinches me in the arm. “He’s great!” she says.
“Want to come up to my place and see my Henry Cabot Lodge button collection?”
The man in the bow tie comes in. “Do you have a tape recorder?” he says breathlessly. “We’ve got to preserve this for posterity!”
“I don’t think that will be necessary,” Polly says reassuringly. “Seventy years from now, who would ever think for a minute that Jack Kerouac was a liberal?”
Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Dead Writers Make More Money.”