I first posted this story of my first supper club thanksgiving back in August, but thought it was time to post it again for the holiday. This past Sunday marked another anniversary of supper club. Only 3 members of the original gang of 8 remain, yet the club is now at almost 15 with new additions every time. This story, obviously, was brought up because it was our first thanksgiving together...and now years later the tradition continues.
Picture it. November 2006. A lot of stuff has just happened. First being I had just lost my job. Actually, hundreds of hill staffers had just lost their job. The constituents of my state had just voted to not send my boss back to the senate and many other senators were in the same boat. The shock of losing, coupled with the fact that I now had to find a job and I would no longer see my amazing co-workers everyday was starting to hit hard. Maybe closer to election I will regale you with the story of how the mighty fell, but back to the story at hand. Second, my mother was in the hospital having back surgery. This is key because she loony on pain killers and pretty much unavailable. These 2 incidents put me in a precarious emotional state.
I worked on the hill for 5 years. In that time, I met some fantastic people. You are brought together by politics, by office location, by the member you work for, but mostly by the ridiculous hours. A group of about 15 southern transplants formed a supper club. We would get together once every couple of weeks to eat southern food, talk about life and trade gossip...and because the group was made up of senate staff, house staff and white house staff, the gossip was ahhhmazing.
In a stroke of genius, I commented on how supper club needed to have a Thanksgiving meal - thinking this might be the last for some of us - and I volunteered the house, mashed potatoes and the cooking of the turkey. I must have been high. Seriously...that's all I can think of because I can't cook worth a shit. Ask anyone.
The time, date, and place had been set. Being all domestic, I went to the grocery 4days before the dinner and bought a frozen turkey. I pulled recipes off the internet and called family friends to ask how they made their birds. I was so prepared...I was in charge. Except, I didn't realize that I needed DAYS to thaw a turkey. So when I pulled that bad boy from the freezer 48 hours in advance, my resident advisor - my grandmother - laughed at me. There was no way I would have enough time to thaw and cook. I was better off running back to the grocery and buying a non-frozen bird. So I headed out days before Thanksgiving to find a turkey that had not been bought. At my third attempt, I found one, at Whole Foods. It was 18lbs - which is huge - and I bought it all the necessities...like little chef hats to go on its legs. It's about 10pm when I get home, so I put it in the fridge and head to bed.
It's now 20 hours before the dinner party for 15. I head home from a very long day at the office and start preparing my stuff to cook this damn thing. Except, I didn't get home from work until after 8. And then I was told because the turkey was so large, it would need 6 fucking hours to cook. At this point, I was mentally and physically exhausted. I stared at my roommate as he told me this. Obviously, I had missed something on the internet because that could not be right. As we discussed a plan, I came up with a couple of options. I could cook it for three hours tonight, and then three hours the next day. Vetoed. I could cook it all night long. Vetoed because you have to baste the damn thing every hour on the hour. I would just need to leave work early to come home. Case closed. But it wasn't that simple because while my boss had been relieved of his job, there was still a ton of work that needed to be done. I wasn't feeling very hopeful about the situation.
As I got into bed that night, I turned on the tv. And that's when God spoke to me. On the set was a commercial for Popeye's and they were advertising a cajun turkey that you could buy at the store. PERFECT! I was a man with a plan. Or a woman with a plan. And like the A-Team, I love it when a plan comes together.
I called Popeye's the morning of the dinner party, reserved two turkeys to be picked up at 6:30pm for an 8pm dinner. Nothing could go wrong. I fly out of work and go to pick up my meat. I arrive at Popeye's, tell them my order and when they hand me two FROZEN turkeys, I lost it. Seriously. I started crying. Sobbing. In the middle of Popeye's. With mexican people speaking spanish to me and trying to comfort me but I can't understand what they are saying and they can't understand me over the sobs. SOBS. I told them I lost my job, that I had to feed 15 people that were arriving within the hour, screaming "what the fuck am I going to do" over and over. Finally the woman petting my hair speaks brilliance. Head to the store up the road and buy some roasted chickens. Your friends will never know the difference. I stopped crying, nodded and walked out, sans frozen turkeys and headed for the store. I bought two roasted turkeys and returned to the house to welcome my guests.
The first person to arrive was my friend Lawrence. Poor Lawrence. As soon as he walked in the door, I broke down again and told him the saga of the last 48 hours. Bless his heart, he concealed his laughter and made a plan to slice the chickens instead of presenting them with their little hats like I had planned. No one will know, he said.
Everyone started arriving, bringing their contribution to the dinner and the table looked amazing. Everyone was starving and starting devouring the supper. Well...until my friend Thomas spoke up and commented on how delicious the turkey was. He'd never had turkey that tasted so good before. And soon everyone was nodding in agreement. And I couldn't take the shame anymore. These were my friends....they would understand. So I told them the long, painful story and showed them the 2 turkeys both now in the freezer and the crying in the popeye's. Fucking Popeye's. Everyone looked on in amazement as the story continued with its twists and turns. And then the laughter started...and to this day the 15 of them still laugh at that fateful Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, it has become part of Bunny folklore.