Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thanks, But No Thanks

In fourth grade I had to do a project about Thanksgiving. My teacher, Mrs. Willis, granted a degree of freedom concerning the assignment, and kids were allowed to write essays, make up songs, draw pictures, assemble dioramas, or whatever else they wanted. Because I wasn't already enough of a social pariah in elementary school, I decided to make sock puppets and perform a skit for the class. Surprisingly, the performance proved to be quite popular, despite its lack of historical accuracy.


At ten years old I had a feeble grasp on the plight of the Native Americans, and my performance reflected that lack of knowledge. I was more concerned with the shock value associated with a violent and inflammatory skit. After all, children are idiots, and I was no exception. I was already showing a touch of ill-conceived defiance that would eventually blossom into full blown teenage angst.

Mrs. Willis was less than pleased with my project.


Eventually, she cut the piece short.


I wound up with a C+. On the comment card I received later that week, Mrs. Willis had written, "Lovely puppets. But next time do a little more research. Also part of the project was to talk about what you're thankful for this year, and you did not address that."

I'm thankful for Mortal Kombat 3, I thought to myself. Does that count? 

My family never really celebrated Thanksgiving, and I think that's part of the reason for my lack of understanding concerning the holiday's roots. I have a few vague memories of Thanksgiving dinners at my grandparents' ranch, back when my grandmother still cooked. I recall dreading those dinners—not because my grandmother was a poor cook, but because I was such a fussy eater. My mother would cut me bits of turkey and I'd do my best to choke it down, though I usually only succeeded in chewing and chewing and chewing until the turkey expanded into a mushy, unswallowable puree.


Some time in the early nineties, my grandmother decided she was "over it" and stopped cooking altogether. And because my own mother rarely cooked anything more complicated than, "a bunch of random stuff in a stew, it's delicious, just eat it," I grew up a stranger to home-cooked holiday meals. It wasn't until college that I had my first real Thanksgiving dinner—though it left me with little to be thankful for.

It was sophomore year of college and my friend Nona had invited me to Thanksgiving thrown by her employer. She'd recently landed an internship at small design studio, and because she was new, she wanted to bring a friend as a social buffer. Since I'm never one to pass up free food, I obliged.

"How does this work?" I asked. "Is it like a potluck? Should I pick up a chocolate cake from Costco?"

"No, my boss reserved a big table at a restaurant," said Nona. "Just come. I don't really know anyone at work yet. Everyone is older than me except for this d-bag Galen, and I hate him. Just come."

I'd seen a picture of Galen before. I'd never met him, but i hated him too.


I appreciated the fact that Nona's boss had opted to hold Thanksgiving in a restaurant since the only holiday foods I'm really fond of are mashed potatoes and butter (these can be enjoyed together or separately). The joint he'd chosen was a cozy, tavern-style eatery. When Nona and I arrived, I did my best to make small talk with the dozen or so middle-aged designers in thick Buddy Holly glasses whom I knew I'd probably never see again. Thankfully, food orders were quickly taken and before long I was able to focus my attention on food instead of people, as that is my way.

About ten minutes into the meal, I noticed Nona stop chewing the bite of cranberry stuffing she'd popped into her mouth only moments before. She paused, swallowed laboriously, then gingerly set her fork down and whispered to me quietly, "I'll be right back." After that she disappeared from the table.

Roughly five minutes had passed when my phone vibrated in my pocket. I slipped it out and glanced at it under the table. It was a text from Nona.


I slipped my phone back into my pocket and continued eating, hopeful that Nona would recover and return to the dinner table soon. A few minutes later, my phone buzzed again. It was another text from Nona.


I was nervous for Nona, but at the same time I was nervous for myself. If Nona didn't return soon and someone asked about her, I'd have to explain that her ass was currently exploding down the hall. I tried to imagine when Nona must be going though. I sat at the table, smiling awkwardly at the chattering folks around me, imagining poor Nona careening into space, propelled into the abyss by a never ending stream of diarrhea.


I received one last text from Nona before she went silent.


With no more incoming updates from my friend, I could only assume that she'd perished. I thought about her drifting through outer space for the rest of eternity, frozen solid. I would miss her.


When Nona finally returned after a near twenty minute absence, she sat down and delicately forked a bit of cold mashed potatoes into her mouth as if nothing had happened at all. From several seats down the table, I heard Galen crack, "Yo, Nona, you get diarrhea or what?" He chuckled to himself. Everyone turned toward Nona. She slowly lifted her head and stared at Galen icily.


Galen looked nonplussed. Nona turned back to her plate and continued eating. Nobody else asked about her absence. I thought to myself, This year I'm thankful for intestinal fortitude.

At the end of the meal, it became apparent that I was the only one paying with a credit card, so I offered to take cash from everyone and put the whole bill on my card. I'll get so many rewards points! I schemed. I'll probably be able to cash in for a five dollar Target gift card! Score! When the waiter came to pick up the check, I was daydreaming of the bountiful treasures I'd purchase on my next shopping trip.


Though distracted, I still managed to pick up on the fact that the waiter was acting a bit strange. Prior to meal he'd been attentive and chipper, but now he moved a little slower, his eyes drooping a bit, his face a bit flushed. He seemed to be drunk. I shrugged it off, handing him the check folder with the cash and my credit card inside.

After he'd left, Nona whisper to me, "Was that waiter drunk or something?"

"I... think so?" I said. "I'm not sure." I peered off in the direction the waiter had gone, but he'd disappeared around the corner toward the kitchen. He remained absent for quite some time, and when he returned there were visible droplets of sweat forming on his forehead. His hand was wrapped up in a thick white linen napkin. He hurriedly handed me the slim leather folder containing my card and receipt, mumbled something that sounded like "thank you," and scrambled back toward the kitchen. I glanced at Nona. From the look on her face, I could see she was just as weirded out as me. Nobody else at the table seemed to notice.

When I opened the check folder, my confusion turned to alarm. My debit card was smeared with blood. I nudged Nona. Her gaze turned to the open folder and her eyes widened. Without saying anything, she reached into her purse, retrieved a bottle of Purell, and squirted it all over my credit card.


A guy across the table peered at Nona and me quizzically, but said nothing. No one else appeared to pick up on Nona's and my alarm. I carefully fished the receipt out from under the the plastic flap and signed it, then hesitated for a moment before picking up my credit card. I thought about it for a moment, then decided I'd just leave it in the folder. "I can cancel the card and get a new one," I murmured to Nona, closing the folder. Some Purell gooshed out the sides.

Later, after we'd left the restaurant, Nona suggested we call the restaurant in the morning. "That waiter was, like, bleeding. On things. He was bleeding on things. Do you think he bled in our food?"

"I don't want to think about it," I said. "You can call tomorrow if you want. I guess he cut his hand on something. He's probably already been fired." I paused for a second before adding, "Maybe we should drink the rest of your Purell, just in case."

"Vodka would probably do the trick, too," Nona replied. "Let's go do that instead." I obliged.


I haven't had Thanksgiving dinner since then, mostly because all my friends are too lazy to cook, and damned if I'm going to attempt it myself. I don't feel like I'm missing out on much, though I understand the appeal of the holiday. It's easy to get caught up in the festivities around this time of year, and in recent years I've been making it a point to at least list things I'm thankful for. This year, as always, I'm thankful that the contents of my wallet aren't covered in blood, but I suppose that's a given. I'm thankful 30 Rock got seven seasons. I'm thankful for the seasonal Pumpkin Pie Blizzard at Dairy Queen. But mostly, I'm thankful that my life doesn't suck. I'm pretty happy. My feet are warm right now thanks to indoor heating and there's a kitten sleeping next to me. Life could be worse. I'm glad it's not.


  1. Anything is possible, when you have a kitten sleeping beside you.

  2. Iim thankful for this blog. I just love you, you're great.

  3. Omg, I couldn't stop laughing out loud like a crazy person. "WHY WONT IT STOP" had me dying. I am thankful that my life doesn't suck and that I get to laugh at your awesome comics. :]

  4. I wonder if your friend is amused by this or extremely embarrased!

  5. I'm thankful that I don't have diarrhea

  6. Hey you either have a mistype or you gave the waiter a 110% tip in this story :)

  7. Perfect illustration of someone being propelled through space by their ass-emissions; left me ROTF. Thanks for the post!

  8. See, I was still trying to scrape the tampon bit from my inner eyelids when the story about blood on the card came up, so I was waiting for some horrible connection between the two that never came. Thank God.

    Excellent work, as always!

    1. It took us three years to build the NeXT computer. If we'd given customers what they said they wanted, we'd have built a computer they'd have been happy with a year after we spoke to them - not something they'd want now.

  9. You never disappoint, adam. You are a web-comic GOD.

  10. I have had the shittiest day and this brightened it up tremendously, so thank you.

  11. I'm so glad you appreciate 30 Rock. :) It's golddddd.

  12. So... did you ever find out why the waiter was bleeding all over everything?!

  13. Thanks Adam. We don't have Thanksgiving here in Australia and by that I mean that we are not thankful for anything. At all. Although I have to profess to a sense of relief - which is similar to thanks - that your conservatives are not going to make good on their promise to "all move to Australia if Obama wins".

    1. How did you know we were all going to move if Obama won? I thought that was just an inside joke in America... Lol

  14. I also had a note great end to my day and this helped a lot. Though I'm still wondering if that waiter ended up in an alley somewhere outside the restaurant because none of the other customers besides you and Nona noticed he was bleeding....

  15. Always an enjoyable read, Adam! Your art really helped seal the humor of the story in this one. Though, nothing tops fat Adam eating pizza picture.

  16. I always laugh outloud.

  17. This was the perfect post for me to NOT read while recovering from the stomach flu. Actually, once I made it past the idea of over-chewed turkey, I knew I'd be ok....
    I'm pretty sure I love Nona.


    1. He cut his hand. It says that at some point her came back with cloth wrapped around his hand.

  19. Dat' ass in the last panel.

  20. I'm thankful that I've never had a Thanksgiving experience like that. I'm also thankful that I've never had to deal with somebody bleeding on my stuff because blood makes me feel sick.

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. I was born on Thanksgiving, so every year instead of birthday cake my parents added candles to the turkey (combining the two celebrations was their way of saving money). I. HATE. TURKEY. I don't like most meat in general actually. I was always jealous of my little brother 'cause his birthday was in August and he always got cake. I'd hide behind the couch crying on my birthday and my dad would drag me out from behind it and force me to eat my birthday turkey. Every damn year it was the same thing, me crying, choking down birthday bites, wailing and sputtering out "I haven't like meat since I was three-- *sob* why don't you knowwww me?!?!?!" cry cry cry.

    To this day I hate Thanksgiving.
    And birthdays.

    I never got any cake.

  23. oh my goodness....loved your post..i am laughing very

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  24. Last night, I made the mistake of reading this in bed after my boyfriend and the dogs had gone to sleep. I was working so hard to stifle my laughter that I thought I was going to pass out. This morning, it's still as funny and once again I'm having to stifle my laughter so my coworkers don't ask what I'm laughing about -- we're cancer research nurses, so diarrhea is a real and present danger in our patient population at all times, so apparently we're supposed to be serious about it.

    The picture of Nona rocketing through space reminded me of a story a patient told us once about his own diarrhea. We were trying to grade the severity of his diarrhea, so we asked him how many episodes he'd been having. He said that he was having diarrhea constantly, but the way he knew it was really bad was that he expelled such a massive force of diarrhea that he'd gotten it all over the dog. Good times.

  25. I have never had a waiter bleed on anything, to my knowledge. I did once have a waiter, whom we shall call Mr. Clean due to his extreme shiny baldness and alarmingly large smile, explain to me in scientific detail the benefits of stirring me tea. Number of turns, propensity of their sweet syrup (apparently sugar isn't fancy enough) to float upon the surface due to it's viscosity, and how the ice cubes apparently "filter" it through out the tea. If he bad ended up bleeding it probably would have made my night. As far as Thanksgiving goes, my Nana once exploded a boiling hot container of gravy because she shook it after adding baking soda. Some of it went inside my cousin's nose and singed her nose hairs. She had trouble smelling things for a few months until they grew back.

  26. This was the perfect post for lunch break after teaching the class from hell. Yes. From HELL. I'm thankful that they are not my children, and that I only have to see them for an hour at a time.

  27. So nice that you can still be thankful just having ginger through Sandy. How did you fare?

  28. Having gone* through

  29. I literally laughed out loud for thirty seconds at the diarrhea propellent pictures.

  30. The sock puppet show sounds awesome. And a C+? Who the hell gives letter grades in elementary school?

    I did a very similar project in High School and staged a re-enactment of Guatemalan history complete with the assassination of our teacher (a.k.a. the president of Guatemala). That got an A, so I really can't fathom what your teacher's problem was. =P

  31. Mashed potato, butter and spring onions (scallions)....try it ..try it now!! adding cheese is good too

  32. Vodka is NOT medicine. (Must keep repeating this to myself.)

  33. Amen to your thankful list.
    Seven seasons of 30 Rock is right up there in my list, too.

  34. You are genious, i love your post, is very funny

  35. Its my birthday today, itll be over in 20 minutes... please put up a new post! it would be the best birthday present!

  36. Hey Adam, did Eve ever claim her tooth?

  37. Oh my...the diarrhea sequence. I used to go to fancy restaurants, only to end up having diarrhea. The food was too rich or something. Once, I had to stop along a long dark road, or I would have had an accident in the car,and run for the bushes. Another time, I decided to stop in a deserted car park, used for people who take the bus to work. It was also dark out, and I left my "evidence" there in a parking spot. I just can't believe I did that and the reaction of the person driving up in the morning to meet it...oh dear....I will remain, anonymous!

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