Thanksgiving special edition

A sarcastic look at my horrendous break

Hyatt Sbar

I have a black lab. 

Not just any black lab. Arguably the most mellow animal in existence. If there was any dog closely resembling a stoned hippie, it is him. He is indifferent to negative surroundings. Any energy not warranting a tail wag is deflected by his ever-present dog grin. On the third day of Thanksgiving break, Pappy looked up at me with a pain and anger in his soft brown eyes that I had never seen. My dog, who has Bob Marley on repeat in his head, and never gets upset, was clearly and starkly angry. 

Please, allow me to supply context. My parents are the rent-a-haunted-house-in-the-forest-to-bond kind of parents. Unfortunately for me, my sister, and obviously my dog, we are not stay-at-a-haunted-house-in-the-forest-to-bond kind of children. I was pretty excited to go back to my home state, Florida, and I initially had a lot planned. 

First, I wanted to see the beach again. (I love the sun and Lexington doesn’t have enough of it.) Secondly, I wanted to sleep in my own bed again. (Freshmen mattresses could be aptly compared to large, thin bricks.) And lastly, I wanted to hit on 18-year-old seniors in high school from my hometown  see my relatives! 

Where was I again? Oh right, haunted house in the woods. Well, about three days before my flight back to sunny Florida, I got a cryptic text that caused me to flee to the nearest toilet and projectile vomit my morning dreck from the dining hall out of sheer terror. The text read: “Change of plans. Rented cottage in NC for Thanksgiving. New flight.” OK, all jokes aside, I didn’t throw up my morning pig slop from the dining hall. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I am a gracious child. I was genuinely excited to see some wilderness for a change. I envisioned coffee, a hammock, and some much needed rest. I even considered channeling my inner Henry David Thoreau and writing about the wilderness from the comfort of the cottage’s living room. (Yes, that was a shot at a dead author. No, I am not sorry Henry.) I was pretty upset that I couldn’t hit on 18 year old seniors in high school from my hometown see my relatives, but absence makes the heart grow fonder, and so I waited three days as fast as I could and soon found myself in rural North Carolina. 

Spirits were high. I was going to relax. My mind was racing with the sheer thought of 10 days secluded. I could finally be alone. Little to no human interaction outside of my nuclear family. No drunk hallmates jumping on me at night, no one putting icy hot on my pillow, and especially no one trying to take me and my mattress to the colonnade at 4 a.m.. No, those are not oddly specific, stop asking questions, reader. 

Finally, we arrived, and the cottage was perfect for our four-person-one-dog family.  It was a farmhouse with three bedrooms and one bathroom (slight discomfort but no big deal), and the way the walls were set, it was basically one big room with four doors, a couch, and a kitchen. (There was no service, television, or Wi-Fi.) 

Then, like a scene out of a horror movie, I heard a separate set of tires squeal down the dirt road. I peered out the window and audibly gasped. It was my crazy Aunt Shannon’s car. I looked on in horror as my aunt, her two behemoth German Shepherds – who always bite Pappy and steal his kibble – and her boyfriend I had never met got out of the car. Three bedrooms, two twin beds, one queen bed, one bathroom, one couch, two mean, clearly overweight German Shepherds, Pappy, me, my sister, my mom, my dad, my aunt, and her boyfriend who I had never met. 

My mother betrayed me. 

Aunt Shannon and her boyfriend got a bed, my sister got a bed, my parents got a bed. Me, Pappy, and the two fat Shepherds were sentenced to the couch, which was probably 20 years old and made my brick mattress at Washington and Lee University feel like a cloud. I would take icy hot and a float down the Maury in my bed any day compared to this. 

Now fast forward to where I started my arduous tale. Pappy had been bitten several times, his kibble had been stolen, and I was looking down at his visible anger. I was empathetic. My situation was no different. Shannon’s boyfriend had asked what I was going to do with an English major for the sixth time, and my mom had asked if I was using protection at college. (And for the record? I write for the newspaper in my free time, which is ever-present protection from sex.) After the disturbing comment from my mom, I ran into the forest dead-set on either finding my way back to Lexington or living as a hermit. (I used the stars and sold a kidney to hitchhike back, hence no opinion piece from me in the last edition.) 

I know this is not a lighthearted Thanksgiving piece like you expected, and you may be disappointed. In fact, you may think you could write something better and honestly, you probably could. I apologize for the inconvenience of you having to read this. It is 3:15 a.m. (I can no longer form coherent thoughts.) A special thanks to my editor who said she would let some of the jokes slide if I turned it in tonight… (The unedited version is far funnier so get mad at her.)