A typical Maine Thanksgiving
It’s a bitter 71 degrees here in the solar radiant-heated cellar/office at 8 a.m. this cold November morning, but put on a heavy coat, sit here by me, and make the best of it as I tell you about a mother and her two daughters.
You should know that both daughters are lovely and talented, both are glorious graduates of Camden High School, and that both are pushing 40. An hour ago the eldest daughter woke us with a call. From what I’ve seen and heard, Marsha's oldest daughter has every minute of her life planned out for the next 40 years, and getting phone calls out of the way at 7 a.m. is part of her regimen.
My wife had been tossing and turning since 4 or 5 a.m. and had just dozed off when the phone rang. At my age the body is usually crying out for attention at 5 a.m. so still being asleep at 7 a.m. is a welcome and cherished treat. Marsha being asleep at 7 a.m. is unheard of.
The bedroom phone — given to the old folks by daughter number two — is on a bureau on the other side of the room and answering it from a sound sleep requires serious thought and long-range planning. Last month Marsha got out of bed and dropped like a sack of grain on the floor. Two days of scans and probes by our local skilled technicians revealed nothing wrong but did contribute thousands of medical insurance dollars to the Knox County economy.
Since then, however, before standing she has had to sit on the edge of the bed for a minute or two and give the room time to stop dancing about. Way over on the other side of the bed I am attached to a sleep apnea machine by a long plastic tube and before I go anywhere I have to pry off a face mask that could have come out of a Three Musketeers movie from the '30s.
So it is seldom that I’m able to answer the bedroom phone half way through the first ring with my usual cheery, “Robert Skoglund here. Sorry to keep you waiting.”
You know, that “sorry to keep you waiting” reminds me that 30 or more years ago, when answering machines were no more than little tape recorders activated by an incoming call, a young woman friend and I created a message that went something like this: “Hi there. Robert Skoglund here. I’m sorry I can’t come to the phone right now because I am working on a very important project that cannot wait.” And after that, in the far background, you heard my female friend’s breathy voice saying, “Ohhh, hurry up, for goodness’ sake.”
Today one would say that my phone number went viral. The phone rang constantly all day. Whenever I would pick it up there would usually be a click on the other end. One person asked me if I would please not answer so she could hear the message on my machine.
I seem to recall hearing later, that women at Van Baalen’s — right where editor Dan Dunkle's Courier office is today — were standing in line to use the company phone. As soon as one would hang up, the next one in line would call The humble Farmer.
Perhaps it was not those great Thanksgiving sales you used to look forward to at Van Baalen’s that put them out of business.
But — getting back to this morning where I was in bed with my wife — after telling child number one what she wanted for Christmas in 2016, Marsha and I reconnoitered. While I was lying there trying to get my eyes open, Marsha said she's thinking about not having Thanksgiving with her friends in Rockland because they are already expecting 18 people, and because child number two doesn’t seem to have any plans we should perhaps invite her to skip down from Fort Kent and have dinner here with her family.
And then my wife Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, tried to figure out what to do with the Thanksgiving leftovers.
Two weeks before she’s even had a chance to call her kid and ask her if she’d like to come here for Thanksgiving turkey, my wife was already worrying about what she’s going to do with the left over neck, bones, and gizzard.
I told her she shouldn't wonder where her daughter got her pathological need to plan.
Just talking about a typical Maine Thanksgiving seems to have warmed things up here in the cellar. Don’t you want to take off your coat?
Robert Karl Skoglund is a longtime local writer, speaker and radio personality in Knox County. He lives in St. George. His commentary will appear in The Courier-Gazette from time to time. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is online at thehumblefarmer.com.