Friday, November 27, 2009

Not a Platonic Dialogue

It happens every year. Eating. Drinking. Stories. Hurt feelings. Forgiveness.

Better remembered as dinner at Dela’s.

But today she had a plan, a catalyst for change. Her family arrived minutes before the meal, and instead of grace, she gave a pep talk. The theme? Love. Though, just as the pilgrims probably advised everyone at their maiden meal on new land, she told the family  to check their fighting implements at the door. 

She sat at the head of the table and gathered the rest of her thoughts. Her family did not wait to hear them.

BROTHER:  Nope, don’t wanna deal with any love business. Just give me D&D. Drinks and debauchery. NOW you’re talking!

Dela frowned. This is not about boozing and one-nighters, she thought. Her brother could do that any time. This is about family and love. 

And stew.

DELA: You guys, just think.  Everything that happens — the good, the bad, and the…well, anything else — are like ingredients.  And, while some things don’t taste that great all alone, mixed together they can add a delicious spicing to the rest of the pot. Right?

SISTER: We’re having stew for dinner?

BROTHER: I don’t like stew!

DELA: No, no, it’s not really about stew.  It’s about how family love is a mix of all the things that happen to us and make our lives rich and bubbly and...

SISTER:  You know perfectly well that I’m a vegetarian, so don’t even think of adding any sodding meat to that pot!

She dated a man from England, so the family made allowances.

DELA: You’re not paying attention.  I’m trying to explain that though we sometimes don’t agree on so many—I mean—a few things, we really love each other and we should celebrate.

BROTHER: I’m not loving the idea of stew. Really.

MOTHER: I want turkey.  I hate it but damn-it-all, it’s tradition. I did not just drive three hours to come and eat vegetable stew!

UNCLE MARYLAND: No problemo.  I bagged a 6-point buck this past weekend. So let’s add it to the pot.  Look! I got me a photo.

He took out his wallet, which was a No. 10 standard white envelope, and passed the picture of him in camouflage attire with his victim. Uncle Maryland is grinning and giving two thumbs up. The deer is not. The family all murmured distress sounds.

UNCLE MARYLAND: Man, what a lucky day. Yeah, it was.  Hey! You can say I got game. That’s right. I got game!

He danced around the table until he had a coughing fit and had to lie down on the sofa.

DELA: Stop. We’re not eating stew. We’re not eating 6 points of deer. We’re going to spend a lovely time eating other things and drinking—God, yes, drinking—and telling wonderful stories and giving thanks for all we have.

SISTER: Actually, my investments are still at the bottom of the toilet. I don’t have all that much. So piss off!

DELA: Oh? On your investments?

BROTHER: O.k. I’m thankful we’re not eating stew.

MOTHER: Oh, good. Though I feel bad for Dela. She does love her stew. Can you imagine? Love and stew on Thanksgiving.  She always was an odd child.

Dela stared at the Spode dinnerware she inherited from Granny Edna and realized there was only one more thing to say to her family. 

In all the earlier planning, she forgot to turn on the oven

UNCLE MARYLAND: So? When do we eat?

〜 〜 〜 〜 〜

About 20 minutes later, the pizzas arrived.


  1. Putting the fun into dysfunctional :)

    (and for the record I chuckled at the bit about the Englishman!)

  2. Ha! Loved that scene. I think that it should be lengthened to a full play (sort of like 12 Angry men, but with more women and funnier...)

    Great job, Marisa.

  3. Guess everybody's got a family scene like that stashed away in his memory, hu?

    Very well written, indeed!

  4. You get better and better. Love this, the love of (another) dysfunctional family. Laughed out loud at "Uncle M grinning. the deer was not." Ha! Peace, Linda

  5. You get better and better. Love this, the love of (another) dysfunctional family. Laughed out loud at "Uncle M grinning. the deer was not." Ha! Peace, Linda

  6. A Thanksgiving dinner to remember! They'll be talking about this one for years. I enjoyed the humor in this quite a bit.

  7. oh this is sooo true to life - who has a family that is not strange??no-one I know..

  8. She forgot to turn on the oven...
    Fabulous! Wonderfully dysfunctional tale.

  9. A good hoot. Forgetting the oven, and pizzas, is the perfect ending.

  10. Laughing out loud, I am. Super job Marisa! This would be fun to watch as a play. I agree that you should think about lengthening it, and submit it!
    I've heard that line "she always was an odd child" more times than I can count. :)

  11. Good take on family dynamics. Fun way to end the story.

  12. Hilarious at every turn - and fully believable.

    My favourite line is "She dated a man from England, so the family made allowances" - being that I'm from England.

    And my favourite character is Uncle Maryland. By a long way. Except they are all brilliant.

  13. Oh this was worth the wait. I laughed with each line. This part in particular had me in stitches: "Uncle Maryland is grinning and giving two thumbs up. The deer is not. The family all murmured distress sounds."

    Excellent job!

  14. Love it! Great stuff! I laughed through the whole piece.

  15. I almost had a pizza day myself. Fortunately my wife is smarter than I am and took care of it all.

    Hysterical and a little bit familiar, for good or bad. Great job!

  16. Man, I could go for stew right now.

    I agree that it's sharply written. Have you written much more for these characters?

  17. A wonderfully funny read full of great lines. I loved it.

  18. This was great, so much fun! Loved your characters :)

  19. What a surprise: you and I have the same brother.

    I can't imagine anyone reading this story and not finding one familiar relative in the group. This is a great story and I laughed out loud several times. I wanted to remove the "Though" from the opening just before checking the implements at the door or do something to really set off that line because it's so funny. Thanks for the posting and I look forward to reading more.

  20. Thank you all for your comments! I wish I could say I was writing about my family.

    That would be amusing.

    But, no, this is not my family. This is not how they behave.


  21. I love the dysfunctional quality to the entire dialogue. Skillfully crafted, as if they are all talking at one another. They hear stew and off they go. Maybe they'll figure it out sooner rather than later. Terrific read!

  22. A valiant effort on her part. I think that family will be much happier with pizza anyway. Great story!

  23. God, yes, drinking!

    Especially if the pizza's cold, which it probably will be.

  24. I loved how quirky this was. Thanks!

  25. Very good. Reminds me of my family the year the turkey didn't get done on time.

  26. This was so funny. I love it, love it. Been there, ate with these relatives. Have not been back since.

    Straight From Hel

  27. Cripes!

    had a nice feeling of stacked chaos and could picture the atmosphere

    and whats this about us englishmen ?

  28. Hey! where did you get that transcript from one of our family reuinions?

    LOL, fun post - loved it. ;)

    Marvin D Wilson

  29. Hey that was a fun one to read. Still giggling.