Thanksgiving Recap

My Thanksgiving was awesome. I got to spend a few days at home with my family before heading up to Asheville to visit with a friend and his family. While at home, I got to spend a lot of time cleaning out my grandmother’s house, since she has just gone into a nursing home.

The people who live next door to her house have a dog that they keep in a lot in their back yard. His name is Sandy. He never gets fed or loved or brought in out of the cold. I fed him while I was there and put blankets in his little house to shield him from some of the cold air.

Sandy is slowing dying. He is starving. You can see each one of his ribs. He has frostbite from the cold. The tips of his ears are black. He may have cancer or some other terrible health thing going on. He has a growth on his stomach and some sores on his hips. When I take him food, he practically rips it out of my hands. He is a sweet, loving dog. He presses himself against the chicken wire of his lot to be petted and loved while shivering against the cold.

I have laid awake many a night worrying about this dog, but my mother forbid my from kidnapping him, which is what I really wanted to do when I found out that calling animal control would only result in him being left there or taken and put down quickly. The legal options suck. Many people have encouraged me to just take him. But what’s holding me back is the possibility that I may end up living in that house (rent-free since I’m unemployed), and I can’t very well steal the next-door neighbor’s dog and then show back up living with it next door. Particularly in a place where you are liable to get shot for being on someone else’s property — never mind taking their property.

Animal control either hasn’t done anything or hasn’t been able to find the people at home, because Sandy is still out there starving in the cold. My mom says she might try to talk to the owners to see if they’ll agree to give him up. I can’t understand why someone would want to own a dog they don’t care about and don’t want to take care of. I can’t understand why they wouldn’t want someone else to have it who would give it love and food and a warm place to sleep.

I didn’t grow up with dogs, but since I have owned one, I have not been able to accept animal cruelty or abuse in any way. My mom says things like, “You don’t just kidnap a child you know is being abused — you have to go through the proper legal channels.” And I think things like, “But that doesn’t always work. Sometimes you do have to take matters into your own hands.” It’s not like someone who is leaving their dog outside in the winter to starve, freeze, and die is going to hunt me down and press charges if I take it and give it something better. Right?

Anyways. I saw them feed him exactly once, by throwing a plate of scraps over the fence to him. His water bowls are all full of leaves and dirt. When I’m not there, my dad goes down and feeds him. Animal control has been called by several parties, but so far nothing has happened. The rescue agencies there say the only way they can foster a dog is if the owner willingly relinquishes it. And I’m also afraid that Sandy needs more medical attention and care than I would be able to pay for. So for now, he is still stuck out there, and we are doing what we can here and there. When he hears our cars pull into the driveway, he peeps his head around the corner of his little house to see if we’re coming with food and gentle stroking and soothing words. When we do, he looks up at us with huge, sad eyes and shakes.

After spending Thanksgiving dinner with my own family on the farm in Mount Vernon, I headed up to Asheville to hang out with my friend and his family for a few days.

The night I arrived, I met some of his relatives on their way out, and ended up with a glass of wine in my hand and sitting in the den watching Punkin Chunkin with my friend and his stepdad on the Discovery Channel.

Apparently watching Punkin Chunkin is a holiday tradition for them that I had never heard of. It’s some contest in Delaware where teams drunkenly compete to see how far they can launch a pumpkin, using various apparatuses. I can totally see why people get into this based on the engineering involved. But the whole time I was thinking, “I have family in Delaware, and there is no way they know about this type of redneck shit going down in their state.” It was pretty durn fun to watch, though.

After more pie and more wine and more Punkin Chunkin, the evening found my friend and I in his childhood basement bedroom, where I used to read the homework reading assignments from his history book to him, playing Candy Land Bingo and drinking Cold Mountain Ale (local brew provided by his mom, because she is awesome like that). And watching Friday Night Lights, which is a TV show we’re addicted to about high school football in Texas.

The next day we drove around town reminiscing about when we both used to live there, and marveling at the new things that have been built since we left, and dreaming about a time when we’ll be able to afford to live there again. Had to get back home for the Auburn/Alabama football game, which his mom made like a Superbowl Party, complete with our favorite beers and buffet of chili cheese dip and all kinds of other good things to eat. We all had our Auburn game day shirts on and were completely psyched when Auburn won. War Eagle!

That evening, my friend’s mom took us out for a night on the town. We went on a tour of local microbreweries just to check them out since we hadn’t seen them. We went to the Biltmore Estate for a little while to see the new village there. It’s called Antler something and there are all these little shops and a museum, where we watched a short video on the history of the estate. After that we went to the winery.

And from there we went to a restaurant on the square called Cedric’s, where we warmed ourselves up, had some beers and decided what to do next. Cedric’s is named after the Vanderbilts’ beloved Saint Bernard, and there are pictures of him all over. There was a pretty good live blues guitarist playing that night, so that was fun. But we wanted to go downtown. So we didn’t stay too long.

Once downtown, it was a tough call as to where to go. We ended up having dinner at the Lexington Avenue Brewery, because it was a new addition to the scene since we’d both lived there. It was very cool, and crowded, so we sat outside on the patio under the heaters to eat, and that was kinda fun. The waitress asked me and my friend if we were family because we both ordered the same beer and red meat dishes, medium rare. Had to correct her that in fact no, we are not related. This helped my friend’s efforts to look down her shirt when she was leaning over the table, and I will admit, her boobs were worth staring at. So no grief was given. She was one of those Asheville girls who you know can’t possibly be FROM Asheville but whose sexy hippieness is  keeping her employed with good tips anyway. What? I’m not jealous.

The food there was good but the beer wasn’t that great, so we decided to go elsewhere before heading home. We wanted to go to Asheville Pizza on Merrimon to relive old times, but my friend’s mom said the bar they just opened downtown was cool. So we went there instead to check out the new place and scenery. It was cool. They have some new beers on tap which were good, and some new t-shirts, but they were sold out of those. It’s very industrial, but I liked it. We had some great conversation there, and some good beer. I got to have my old favorite — Shiva — which I had not tasted in years, and it was delightful.

Afterwards we stopped by the huge new Ingles on Tunnel Road (I can’t believe there’s a huge new Ingles on Tunnel Road) so my friend’s mom could pick up a potato to put in the homemade vegetable soup she was making for him to be able to take back with him. Then we went home and got ready to go back out.

My friend and I decided we had to go to Scandals to see what it was like now. We used to spend almost every Friday and Saturday night there at one or more of their bars, and we wanted to at least see a drag show for old times’ sake while we were there. It turned out that the multiple clubs we used to visit are all separate entrances now, so we just went to Scandals. We saw the drag show, and although it was not as fun as when we knew all the performers, it was still pretty fun. We still knew one of them.

It was a far cry from the days of sneaking underage shots through the mouths of friends and sneaking off to make out in various bathrooms and chain smoking in the pool room, but it was a fun night. We felt kinda old, though. We sat on the sidelines watching the dance floor, while saying things like, “Can you believe we used to come here and dance like that?”

Afterward, we went to Denny’s on Patton, which was always our old refueling station after a night at the club. We were going to get breakfast like we always used to, but there was a table full of redneck kids behind us making foul and hateful comments about some kids at the table next to us, and we had to leave so my friend didn’t beat the shit out of them. So we retreated back to Kenilworth Lake, to his parents’ house, for more Friday Night Lights and eating our take-out bacon and eggs on the water bed that I hate because it’s so hard to get in and out of. Seriously, you shouldn’t need abs of steel just for getting in and out of bed, for fuck’s sake.

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