We were sitting cozy on the couch watching TV
'What's that smell?'
'What smell?'
I sniff ostentatiously while trying to remember if I took my shower this morning or if it is last night I am remembering.
'It's kind of weird.'
'Weird how?'
(Did I remember to put on deodorant? I struggle to recall.)
'Weird how? Bad?'
Please, not bad.
'No, not bad. It's just different. Like, spicy.'
'Spicy? Like chili or something?'
'No, spicy like exotic, I meant'
'My perfume?'
I stick my wrist virtually up his nostrils.
'Yeah, that's it. Is it new?'
'No, I've only been wearing this one for about a year'
Thanksgiving Day, 1994

No one that lives in California is truly from California. Or at least that's what it seems like when the holidays roll around, your family is 1300 miles away from you, and you're too poor to go home for the holidays.

In 1994, several of my friends were all in the same situation. We were here. Our loved ones (for the most part) were there. None of us had the wherewithal or fortitude to get back home for Thanksgiving, so we decided to throw a home away from home T-day meal.

As plans of our event became known to our friends, and friends of friends, more and more interest was expressed in participating. By the time the actual day rolled around, we were expecting about 20 people.

Since Thanksgiving usually ends up being a feast of the gluttonous nature, we were thankful that we had two refrigerators. Y'see, my roommate, upon moving into our house, discovered that her fridge was an order of magnitude larger than the one provided by the landlord. One of the first things we did was to move the smaller fridge out onto the covered patio and we used it--infrequently--to store extra food for parties and whatnot. Having two of these handy household appliances for our Thanksgiving dinner was a boon, since we had so many guests.

The weather that day was perfect Southern California, so we set up a long picnic table and enjoyed our feast, and one another's company out on the patio. Having that second fridge at hand was convenient, as no one had to wander very far to get another beer, or maybe just a smidge more of that terrific turkey. The fully stocked refrigerator was ... well, it was right there.

But the highlight of the meal was the home made vanilla ice cream that we had all contributed to making.

We unplugged the refrigerator to plug in the ice cream maker, and when it was done we marveled at how wonderful ice cream tasted when made with fresh ingredients.

Later that night, as we cleaned up the remains of the feast, my roommate and I began discussing plans for next year's feast, since this one had been such a resounding success.

Neither of us had the feeling we were forgetting something.

May, 1995

Me:"You know, now that the torrential rains have ended, we should really clean up the back yard and the patio.
Roommate:"You're right. Let's get to it."
M (approaching unplugged fridge):"What's that smell? Oh boy, I hope the cat didn't kill something and it's rotting back here."
R (joining me at the fridge, sniffing the air cautiously):"No, it smells like ... spoiled food."
M (Dawning horror):"Uhhhhhhhhhhhh. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
R (Beginning to reach for the fridge handle):"No, silly. We cleaned out the fridge last Thanksgiving, remember?"
a beat or two
R:"Didn't we??"
M:"To be honest, I can't recall. I remember unplugging it to make ice cream but ... well, I had been drinking beer all day and ..."
M and R (together):"Oh, NO!"
M:"Don't open it. You can't open it. It's bound to be hell in there."
R:"Don't be silly. I've been wondering where that big Tupperware bowl went."
M:"Honey, I guarandamntee that it's not Tupperware in there anymore. Whatever is in there probably shouldn't be seen by mortalkind."
R:"Maybe you're right. We'd probably get a whiff of some sort of toxic gas that would kill us or something if we opened it."
M:"What do we do?"
R:"Let's bind it up with a bunch of duct tape and take it to the dump."
M:"Sounds like a plan."

When we moved out, my roommate left her refrigerator behind, out of guilt.

The landlord never commented.

We never hosted another dinner, of any kind, again.

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