On the fourth Thursday in November,
or maybe it's the last Thursday before December, I can never
remember, Americans from sea to shining sea and also on land,
observe the belly-expanding ritual known as Thanksgiving. To
whom and for what one gives thanks is highly personal, but to
mark that gratitude with excessive amounts of food, football,
and relatives is fairly standard behavior. Also the parade is
But Ron was never a follower
of fashion. No, I tell a lie. Ron usually follows fashion by
several decades, and if anyone knows where to get a pair of
shaggy elephant bells, let me know and I'll tell him. His old
pair is very nearly worn out.
This Thanksgiving, Ron told us
on Halloween, he would recreate the landing of the Mayflower.
Now, it would be no use explaining to Ron that the Mayflower
landed the year before the legendary Massachusetts Bay Colony
feast, just like it was no use explaining to Ron that one month
isn't enough time to stage a landing, just like it was no use
explaining to Ron that his Halloween pirate costume looked silly,
because as it turns out, Ron wasn't wearing a pirate costume.
Ron actually owns a shirt with broad, black and white, horizontal
stripes, and if you know where he can score a pair of shaggy
elephant bells with matching broad black and white horizontal
stripes he'd be most appreciative, which is not necessarily
a good thing. He actually said "score."
Ron was not worried about the
Pilgrim outfit ("I must have something" he said to
us, and we believed him.) Nor was Ron worried about the boat.
You see, he had just obtained a 30-footer which he planned to
"dress up" as the Mayflower. The problem, he said,
was to find a local substitute for Plymouth Rock, and to avoid
slamming into it. We all nodded, mostly for lack of options,
and I think it was Frank who asked about the 30-footer, and
I think it was Frank's cousin Bill who smacked him for asking.
Ron told us about the 30-footer,
which he said was only approximate as it was officially a 10-meter,
which was marketing-talk because he saw on a website where it
said it was only a 9.8 meter, and he wasn't sure but a meter
is something like a yard, so a 10-meter is a 30-footer, right?
We nodded some more, for lack of options, and I said, "Whatever
- go on, Ron," and I'm pretty sure it was Frank who smacked
me that time.
The 30-footer, or whatever, turns
out to be a very surprising vessel indeed, which is not surprising
at all, come to think of it. It's an aluminum party boat with
dented floats and a big striped gazebo and the name on the back
is "PARTY CENTRAL", or I guess that's what it probably
is, because the "N" is missing. So is the outboard
motor, did I mention the outboard is missing? That's when Ron
started to explain the really beautiful part of his idea.
The yellow-and-white striped
and fringed gazebo cover - or "bimini" as Ron calls
it - would serve as the main squaresail for the "Mayflower."
He'd have two more masts and a bowsprit, but these would have
furled "sails" and be for decoration only. He'd "sail"
on the "main" alone, using another motor to move the
boat slowly while "Pilgrims" on deck waved to "Indians"
I asked, "Massasoit?"
and he said, "No, why bother sewing anything?" and
I was completely lost for a minute, and then I understood and
smacked myself on the forehead and missed some of the conversation,
but when I started listening again he was explaining about cranberries,
but then I realized he meant Cranbury, which is about five miles
from here. And the best part, he pointed out, is that they have
a rock in the harbor!
Well, when Ron has a point you
just have to agree with him, although that's never actually
come up in practice, but still the theory is sound. In this
case, it turns out that the Cranbury High School football field
faces the harbor, and he figured he could arrive in the "Mayflower"
as part of the halftime show. I had the local newspaper and
sadly enough Cranbury had a home game scheduled that day: the
Cranbury Cavaliers were hosting the Kennedy Knights, in the
annual grudge match, because the Board of Education had designated
Cranbury and JFK as rivals.
(Why is it that all schools named
for John F. Kennedy seem to call their teams the Knights? Why
is that? Am I missing something obvious here? Never mind.)
I suggested to Ron that "Cavaliers"
were probably unwelcome in a Puritan colony but he just stared
at me and said, oh yeah, you went to Kennedy. Which I didn't,
but I let it drop.
Fortunately for all concerned,
the Mayflower (ex - PARTY CE TRAL) sank later that day after
being struck by a pointy log, and the bimini was last seen heading
That evening we all gathered
and gave our most heartfelt thanks, but to whom and for what
we gave them must remain "highly personal."