The supermarket was busy, especially near the freezer where frozen turkeys were on sale. I had difficulty just getting close to the solid gobblers.
Just as I finally got near the freezer case I noticed a familiar figure in front of me. It was my short-tempered old buddy, Eb Griper.
“I figured Old McGriper had a turkey on his farm,” I said to a surprised Eb. He turned around, took one quick look at me and, as expected, scowled.
“E-I-E-I-O,” I added.
“Quick,” he said to no one in particular, “get on the store’s P.A. system and announce that there’s great big live turkey loose by the frozen turkeys.”
Then he flashed a silly grin exposing his few remaining teeth. “Think you’re pretty smart, don’t you?” I said.
“Yep,” Eb agreed, “darn smart.”
“So Hilda has you picking out a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner?” I asked innocently.
“No,” Eb snipped, “I’m down here to pick up some Pilgrims. What in the heck do you think I’m doing at the frozen turkey case?”
“Sorry, Eb; you must be having a bad day.”
“No worse than the others. Too many people around here. I don’t like crowds.”
“I don’t like crowds either,” I conceded, “but it’s that time of year.”
“I don’t know what all the hullabaloo is about,” Eb snapped. “I don’t need a turkey to be thankful.”
“True,” I agreed. “So, that must mean you are thankful for something. What are you thankful for this year?”
After rubbing the stubble on his chin Eb said, “Well, I guess I’m thankful for Congress.”
Eb caught me off guard. “After all the baloney they pulled off this year, you’re thankful for Congress?” I asked incredulously.
“Yep. You see, boy, I was never the brightest kid in my class. In fact, more than one teacher called me stupid.” Eb paused a moment, the decades-old hurt still obvious. “But compared to some of the idiots in Congress I feel like a doggone genius!”
“Another thing I’m thankful for this year is my Studebaker pick-up truck. More than 60 years old and nearly 300,000 miles and still starts every morning.”
“Amazing,” I said. “Yep, and everyone told me that those toilet paper oil filters they were selling 40 years ago would ruin the engine. I now call my pick-up Charmin.”
“I’m surprised by your positive attitude today, Eb. Frankly, you can be rather negative at times.”
“I’m not negative,” Eb said. “I just tell the truth. Some folks can’t handle that.” He flashed his nearly toothless grin again and continued, “That’s what I do. I tell the truth and to some folks that seems negative.”
“So you’re not a Pollyanna?”
“Watch it, buster. Don’t be calling me no women’s names.”
“Sorry, Eb. So, tell me, what is the one thing that you’re most thankful for this Thanksgiving?”
Eb stroked his chin whiskers again and pushed his eyeglasses up on his nose. “I suppose the thing I’m most thankful for this year is that the good Lord has let me live this long.”
Eb paused for a few seconds and then continued, “I’ve seen a lot of stuff in my lifetime and some of it wasn’t too pretty. But here I am, a skinny old codger with a fat wife who loves me and a pick-up truck that doesn’t owe me a dime. My health isn’t bad for an old coffin dodger. Hilda cooks me good meals and the young neighbors down the road check in on us every day or so. I guess I’m thankful to have lived this long. A lot of my friends have not had that privilege.”
The lump in my throat made it difficult to speak. “You know, Eb, you’re darn near a poet. That’s just beautiful.”
“Yeah, and if you ever tell anyone I said it I’ll call you a liar.” Eb flashed a nasty scowl and continued, “I have a reputation to uphold, you great big turkey.”