#167 – Northern Exposure

There’s an old expression: no good deed goes unpunished. As my friend Ned informed me today, he and his wife have become firm believers in the principle — thanks to the figurative spanking they expect to receive courtesy of their Thanksgiving visitor.

A month ago, Ned and Suzie attended the wedding of his coworker’s daughter. By chance, the single guest at their table who didn’t work for Ned’s company sat beside Suzie. An American living in Toronto, the sociable fellow chatted with her for much of the evening. 

During their discussions, the topic of Thanksgiving arose. “Roy” mentioned his lack of plans for the holiday. He said he had no close family to speak of and knew no one else in Canada who celebrated our Thanksgiving. Generously, Suzie invited him to spend the holiday at their house in Maine. She even pressed him to stay the night there, rather than at some impersonal hotel. At her urging, Ned handed over his business card so Roy could get back to them.

At the gala’s end, Ned went ballistic. He wanted to know what’d possessed his wife to open their home to a complete stranger on Thanksgiving. “When did you become Mother Theresa?!!” he added.

Suzie offered her standard response to what she considers Ned’s testosterone-fueled rants: “You need to check your balls at the door!” Moving on, she assured him there’s no need to worry: “First, I doubt he’ll come. He can’t be so desperate for company he’d fly across the border to spend Thanksgiving with people he met just once. And even if he does show up, there’s room at the table for one more, and having him stay overnight won’t kill us.”

After two weeks without word from Canada, Ned began to relax. Yesterday, however, he received an e-mail from Roy. Here’s the meat of the message:

I’d be delighted to spend the holiday with the two of you and your families! Fortunately, I managed to secure last minute air travel from Toronto to Portland. My flight arrives at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday. Hopefully, it’s not too much trouble for you to pick me up at the airport. My return flight is 11:00 a.m. on Monday, and I trust you can drive me back to the airport too.

Ned and Suzie don’t live close to the Portland airport. Indeed, Ned’ll have to leave the house at four in order to arrive at the airport by five. Coincidentally, he and his wife had set four o’clock as their Thanksgiving dinner’s starting time. Should the turkey and fixings fail to appear on the table at the appointed hour, the couple’s invited family members will not be pleased; and they won’t prove shy in venting their displeasure either.

Now Suzie’s the one freaking out, and not solely because of the anticipated Thanksgiving dinner delay. She’d intended to complete all her Christmas shopping on Friday and Saturday. She’d also made plans for a girls’ day out on Sunday. But with their overnight guest planning a weekend stay, all those plans are kaput.

Ned let Suzie bitch and moan about the situation for a while before offering recognizable words of advice: “Like you always tell me, you need to check your balls at the door!”

Roy’s flight from Toronto – due into Portland at 4:50 tomorrow, if on time.

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