It was one of those warm days in late April, before summer fog encases the town in gloom for a couple of months. The sun shone brightly that morning, and my friend Michelle and I-amidst a litter of empty beer bottles in my Isla Vista hovel-woke up hungry. After spending an evening drinking the “wounded soldiers” (beer bottles with some amount of flat, warm beer still left in them) left by my pothead roommates, and watching not-so-classic old movies, we needed an equally cost-effective way to spend the morning. We had almost $5 between the two of us, and at least $10 worth of hunger.
Our first stop was I.V. Market, where we bought all of the food we could with the money we had-a small bag of tortillas, some cheese, and the cheapest bag of hot dogs we could find. They definitely weren’t the kosher variety, undoubtedly fabricated from whatever happened to be near the grinder in the hot dog factory-cow, pig, chicken, rat, human finger, who knows. At any rate, it seemed that we had a veritable feast, but something was missing. “Avocados,” mumbled Michelle. “What?” I asked. “Avocados, man. We need some avocados, and I know just where to get some.”
I wondered where we could get avocados without any money, but followed his instructions to drive to the Westside on what little gas I had left. “I know a place where we can get some avocados for free,” Michelle said with a sly grin. I didn’t ask questions, simply followed his labyrinth of directions, watching the streets get more and more narrow and obscure. Eventually, we reached a dead end alley.
“Leave the car running and follow me,” he said. Before I knew it, Michelle had shimmied up a tree in someone’s driveway and was tossing avocados down to me. I became aware of a muffled yelling sound, and saw an elderly woman, wearing the requisite flower print bathrobe, framed by her kitchen window, shaking her fist and yelling crossly for us to leave her property. Michelle giggled, saying something under his breath about her failure to utilize this resource, and he jumped down from the tree. “How did you find this place?” I asked him incredulously, as we jogged toward my truck. The alley wasn’t exactly on the beaten path. Michelle paused for a moment, collecting his thoughts, and began telling his Thanksgiving tale.
“Last Thanksgiving, I didn’t have anyone to hang out with. There I was, all alone, with a borrowed car and a bottle of Popov. I really couldn’t think of anything to do, so I went to this church-the Free Methodist Church-that I had seen an advertisement for. They were having a Thanksgiving dinner there for the poor, and I decided to go check it out. I know I’m not homeless, but I didn’t have any money, so I figured, what the hell. I was pretty drunk anyway, so I just went.
“The dinner was pretty good, from what I remember of it. I think I said some inappropriate stuff, because before I knew it, all these kids were laughing, old ladies were blushing, and a lot of people were standing around looking uncomfortable. When I left the table, a bunch of kids followed me to the kitchen, so I kept telling them off-color jokes. They were just laughing their asses off. At some point, I decided to dig through the refrigerator for leftovers, and came upon an extra frozen turkey. It seemed to call to me. ‘Taaaake meeeee,’ it said. Anyway, those kids bet that I wouldn’t do it, so not only did I take the frozen turkey, I tied it to the back of the car and dragged it around the parking lot for them all to see. Luckily, none of the adults saw me, but the kids, they were in stitches.”
“So there I was, driving around with a frozen turkey dragging behind the car, and eventually, I ended up on some small streets on the Westside. I didn’t really feel like going home yet, so I just started driving down streets I’d never been on before. Back and forth I went, not looking for anything in particular, just something to spark my interest, I guess. Anyway, I drove down one of the alleys and voila! There it was-the avocado tree. As I was stuffing my face full of avocados that night, I thought what a happy Thanksgiving it really was.”
I stared at him, munching on a newly-liberated avocado, amazed at the ridiculousness of his story. I shouldn’t have been surprised, because Michelle had spun me some pretty wild yarns before, but this one seemed to exemplify random adventure and utterly pointless tomfoolery. Perhaps this Thanksgiving, I’ll invite him over for dinner to keep him out of trouble, but then I’d miss out on another strange story.