My mom loves to cook and entertain. I never realized this growing up because she was so busy with school. And, to be honest, guests weren’t Daddy’s idea of big fun. Now that Mom is retired, and since Daddy is no longer with us, she has time to do more of the things she likes. And she is in complete control of the guest list.
Mom and Sam started making plans for Thanksgiving dinner a couple of weeks ago. The meal would be served at lunchtime just as we’ve always done. No, mother didn’t need us to bring anything. After all, she said, we had way too much food last year. We have way too much food EVERY year because that’s just how Mother rolls. It doesn’t matter if two people are coming to dinner. She cooks for two hundred.
Not only would Sam and I have opportunity to take home big doggie bags, so would our pit bull Holly. The two-legged children and grandchildren were invited, and Mom insisted that Holly the “granddog” come, too.
We figured this would be a happy little break for Holly. She has had almost infinite patience putting up with a houseful of cats at home for the last couple of months. Her sleep has been cut short. Her favorite spot on the couch is often taken. And that box with the weird sand in it over by the dishwasher just looks like trouble. So when her grandmother sent the invitation for us all to come to dinner, Holly gratefully accepted as well.
Transporting a dog the size of a pony, three adults, one teen, and all our stuff requires a little bit of planning. All that won’t fit in one vehicle. Sam had been working on a television set for my mother and was anxious to get back over there early to work on it some more. So we took two cars. Sam and Mike loaded into one car and left a little early. Kathryn, Holly, and I piled into the other and followed about an hour later.
The ride started out very pleasant. What a beautiful day to travel with your daughter and your dog. In fact, the dog was so well behaved that after a little sight-seeing out the back windows, she laid down on the back seat and I forgot she was even with us. Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go.
After a little while on I-10 to the Eastern Shore, we turned off of Highway 98 onto a two-lane road to take a shortcut to my mom’s. We passed a young man mowing his lawn. Unusual for Thanksgiving, I observed, but wasn’t his yard just beautiful?
And then it happened… the fumes… the odor… the foul stench… It was just AWFUL! Certainly we must have passed something dead along the side of the road that I had neglected to notice because I was admiring that nice young man’s lawn. I turned to my right to ask Kathryn what on earth had died. By that time my eyes were beginning to tear, but I could still see well enough to drive and catch the look on her face. She was making that face she makes when someone has done something absolutely disgusting and she isn’t afraid to call them on it. But why is she staring into the back seat? And what the heck is that smell?!
And then I remembered… Holly is our back-seat passenger. And that smell is emanating from the back seat… Oh, my word… I cannot describe the odor in the car. Sulfur? Rotten eggs? DOGGIE GAS!! Oh, me… Kathryn starts rolling her window down and I follow suit just as quickly as I can. My eyes are watering more now, and I need to focus to pay attention to the road.
I don’t recall the exact comments that came out of Kathryn’s mouth, but they sent me into a fit of laughter. Between the watery eyes and laughing so hard I could barely breathe, I must have been slowing down without noticing. Once the air cleared a bit I looked in the rearview mirror. There was a line of cars behind us, probably wondering if they should call the cops to report the drunk driver on Pollard Road. And there was a great big old pit bull staring at the two ladies in the front seat wondering what in the world is so funny.
But the story doesn’t end there… Remember the guest list I told you about and how Mom loves to entertain? It dawned on me at that moment that there would be company for Thanksgiving dinner. Mom had invited a couple of the sweetest widowed older ladies from her Sunday School class and neighborhood to eat with us. These are old-school, well-mannered, very classy ladies (my mom included) — NOT the sort that you’d want to be overcome with foul, rotten, disgusting doggie gas! You see, Mom’s yard is not fenced in. So Holly has to stay inside with the rest of us. I could just see the looks on the ladies’ faces… the struggle to remain dignified and polite in the face of, well, chemical warfare. Lord, help us! I voiced my concerns to Kathryn.
Short moment of silence as the ramifications of the situation settled in on both of us… Laughter erupted again. The convulsive kind that makes your belly hurt. The kind that makes it impossible to utter an intelligent word, or any word at all for that matter. The kind that makes your breath come in big gulps. Tears are pouring out of my eyes again. Lord, help us! I turned off the two-lane road into Mom’s neighborhood, much to the relief of the line of cars behind us.
I am happy to say that the story ended on a happy note. Though the doggie gas experienced in the car was not an isolated incident, immediate family members were the only ones to be “gassed” later that day — not the sweet lady who showed up to share our Thanksgiving dinner. Might have something to do with the Benadryl I slipped Holly in her ham sandwich she had for brunch. She snoozed away in the den while the rest of us enjoyed a fabulous Thanksgiving meal in the dining room, safe from stinking doggies and all things undignified.