Thanksgiving with Ron


by Lew Clayman

Thanksgiving with Ron

"And Noah asked: What's a cubit, Lord?"
- Bill Cosby

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 neat.

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" on land.

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 for Massachusetts.

That evening we all gathered and gave our most heartfelt thanks, but to whom and for what we gave them must remain "highly personal."

Lew Clayman