Like last year, I got to have Thanksgiving twice this year, once on the actual date, and once a couple weeks earlier. The reason was the same: the show. They want for our Thanksgiving episode – the one that airs the day before Thanksgiving – to show us having a Sharpman family Thanksgiving, and the only way to do that is to have the Sharpman family Thanksgiving dinner shortly after my birthday.
At least this year’s Thanksgiving for the cameras was normal compared to last year’s and we all got to eat in the dining room and without social distancing. I should add that I wasn’t necessarily expecting to be among the ‘we’ – since it’s a family function, and I’m…I don’t want to say ‘only the help’ – but I am an employee, even if I’m very close with Jacob and Matteo. (I hope I haven’t been giving the impression that Maya and Robert neglect the boys, because they don’t. They’re attentive parents, they’re the ones who make sure that homework gets done and they’re on top of what the boys are doing on social media. But I’m still there for the basics all day long. And turns out that I remember enough math for me to be able to help both of them at least with that part of their homework…although I’ve been helping Jacob out on As You Like It too since they started reading it in class.)
The Thanksgiving show was going to be shot on the 11th of November, since it wasn’t a school day and that meant that the boys would be available all day long, both to put in an appearance in the kitchen while Maya, Mrs. Bedrossian and Belen were doing the cooking, and then to appear at table (and look hungry and thankful) when we finally got to dinner. I wasn’t sure what role, if any, I was going to play, until Sandy came to tell me the day before that I was going to need nice clothes for Thanksgiving dinner…and did I need anything taken to the cleaners?
I needed to find out what ‘nice clothes’ meant, too: did they want me in a jacket and tie, or just dressed like I used to dress for church back when there still was church in a button-down shirt and khakis. (Sandy: “your church outfit will do just fine…yes, I’m asking you to wear a shirt for a change.” She laughed at her own joke, although I should add for those of y’all who don’t watch the show that it’s not like I have my shirt off all the time. I don’t teach the boys to play ball while I’m in boardshorts.)
That said, it was a hot day (the temperature reached 90°) so that meant me and the boys went swimming while the preparations were being filmed in the kitchen, although they got a lot of footage of the cooking the day before when they made the pies and Belen made the first part of the tamales. (The Sharpman Thanksgiving is a big mishmash of regular American food (turkey and stuffing and gravy and mashed potatoes and candied yams with marshmallows), Armenian dishes (like shish kebab and those totally bombass stuffed meatballs Mrs. Bedrossian makes), and Belen’s tamales. Apparently last year was an exception, and Belen normally makes tamales for the filmed Thanksgiving. She then goes through all the work again when she goes to her family for Christmas (which, remember, isn’t Christmas at the Sharpmans.)
The whole TV Thanksgiving was totally different from last year, and I was left to get my bearings all by myself. There weren’t that many people there, just Maya, Robert, the boys, Mrs. Bedrossian, some cousins of Robert’s and, although we’re not family, me and Sandy. Plus Ethan and the crew watching everything we did. (One reason that there was so much food was that the crew expected to be fed as well.) We sat down to table and had a meal, but it was all a little hectic since the whole thing was being done for the cameras. The food was bomb, at least what I got to enjoy of it, but there was so much going on around the table that it wasn’t the kind of Thanksgiving meal you could sit back and enjoy.
It’s not like we were acting or anything, but we still had to make sure that the cameras captured every aspect of the dinner so that, when it aired the day before Thanksgiving, people would see At Home with Maya and think how much Maya’s home is like theirs. And, yeah, I guess to see how really rich people have Thanksgiving and yet seem to be normal families.
One thing I liked was that we were asked to tell the camera what we were thankful for. We didn’t go around the table like we used to at home: they shot little segments of each of us talking to the camera after dinner was over. Sandy offered to help me write mine, but I was a little annoyed that she didn’t think I could handle it myself. (I did have to write down my answer and show it to Maya, Robert and Jean-François so they could ok it before I could say it on camera.) On the other hand, they asked me to help the boys, although they actually both had an easy time coming up with something to say. We did have a serious discussion about it, just the three of us, and that was kinda cool. The boys go to church (an Armenian one in Glendale) and are good Christians, so it wasn’t too hard discussing what all we were thankful for. I’m not sure how I’d have led the discussion with people who don’t believe in the Lord.
I reckon y’all will find out what I said I was most thankful for when you watch the episode on TV, but, for those of you who are going to miss it because you have pies to bake the night before Thanksgiving, I guess I’m not giving away a huge secret if I say that I said I was thankful for the Sharpmans, who took me in, and gave me a job and a roof over my head when I desperately needed one…and how they’ve trusted me with two wonderful boys to look after…and now even given me a recurring segment of my own on the show. Yeah, I have a lot of other things to be thankful for too, but, let’s face it, I’d be pretty dang fucked if it weren’t for Maya and her family.
Maya even told me that I was welcome to ‘real’ Thanksgiving, when there’d be a lot more family, but, after last year, Joyce said she didn’t mind making two turkeys four weeks apart, and that she didn’t want Keaton having Wingstop and watching football when he could come to her for a real Thanksgiving. And Mrs. LaSalle probably wouldn’t have had anywhere to go, since her family was going to be away on a skiing vacation somewhere and, as usual, left her behind. (Her having to get around with a cane now made a big excuse for them not to take her along. Mrs. LaSalle: “I used to love skiing. Mr. LaSalle and I went to Switzerland a few times and skied the Alps.” It sounds like there was nothing that the two of them didn’t do when he was alive.)
We had one guest more this year than last: Travis asked if he could come, and I told him that of course he could even before I asked Joyce if he could come. (That turned out ok, but, yeah, I was a little nervous Joyce might not like the idea after it was too late.) Of course his family was having their own Thanksgiving, but Travis is trying to have as little to do with them as he can at present, and, let’s face it, family Thanksgivings can be very big triggers. Even I understand that: the Thanksgiving the year after I left baseball was pretty trigger-filled for me. (It sucks that that was the last Thanksgiving I was in Maryville for, but there should be others. Who knows? I may get my own spin-off reality show and the whole crew will come home with me and they can watch Meemaw deep fry a turkey like it should be done lol.)
There was one problem with Joyce’s plans: although Adam and Allan cancelled Thanksgiving last year, they were going to do it this year, and were kind of expecting that me and Joyce would come. They invited Keaton too (Keaton: “I don’t want to be a fuckin pity invite”), but, by then, Joyce had decided she wanted to make Thanksgiving at her house. The solution we reached was that we would go over to Adam and Allan’s for pie after we finished our Thanksgiving dinner. Kind of like the way you go to your in-laws for dessert.
As a result, we started dinner earlier than we did last year – at 3 – so we’d have time to get over to Adam and Allan’s, where they were starting at 5.
Starting at 3 wasn’t exactly cutting into Turkey Bowl time, but did mean that I wasn’t gonna be able to rest and watch TV when I got back from playing. Still, nothing was gonna come between me and the one chance I get to play football a year. Keaton, Travis and Trey were playing too, so the Parrots were well represented on what was a great sunny morning. We weren’t going to need to worry about rain this year.
Everyone missed out on Turkey Bowl last year, and to say we threw ourselves into the game would be an understatement. It wasn’t quite all-out tackle football, but the San Marino Turkey Bowl is getting more and more like that, I reckon by general unspoken agreement. A couple of the guys who played two years ago in the rain apparently through that the game was too rough and didn’t come back, but there were a couple college guys ready to take their places. So the range of ages went from college freshmen through to a couple guys in their late 30s who were determined to play just as hard as the younger guys.
And what of the troll who always gets into it with me?
“There’s your boyfriend,” Keaton said, as he saw him coming towards us from the parking lot.
Sure enough, there he was. And sure enough he was all set to be a jerkoff again. He shook hands with most of the guys when he got there, but wouldn’t with me and Keaton. Instead he said:
“Seems like pretty boy got himself a TV show,” to one of the other guys, but loud enough for me to hear him. “Let’s see if he still remembers how to play football and that he’s still pretty when we’re done.”
Let’s just say that pretty boy still knew how to play football. And how to tackle, which I did anytime I could, which was pretty often, since we were on different teams and, unlike a lot of quarterbacks, I love playing defense. Theoretically it was still a flag football game but let’s say that it was easier to take the troll down than to grab his flags.
Yeah, I got a couple roughness penalties called as a result, but it was worth it.
If y’all remember, he’s sacked the fuck outta me in the past, but he didn’t get a chance this year. Keaton, who switched to center from his usual tight end, anchored an O-line that took very good care of its reality TV star quarterback lol. (Keaton: “it’s fuckin gayass, but you can’t appear all bruised up next time you take your shirt off for your fans. I got a duty to the show to protect you and your gayass abs.”)
Yeah, I kept score. It was Hunter – 4 and Troll – 1 when he took me down for absolutely no good reason. At least I waited for an excuse before getting unnecessarily rough.
Keaton: “why don’t you guys just go and get a room?”
Me: “fuck you, man…if I were gonna turn gay, it certainly wouldn’t be with a troll like that.”
Keaton just shook his head and said “gay gay gay” lol . He deserved to get tackled for it but we were on the same team.
Our team won, 24 to 16, but it was a close game. I could tell everyone had a good time…although I think all of us hoped that our wives and girlfriends had plenty of ice back home in the freezer. We were a pretty banged up bunch by the end. And
I definitely needed a shower when I got back to the house.
Jacob ran into me as I was sitting on a deck chair taking off my football spikes.
“I thought y’all were playing flag football,” he said, getting a look at me and how dirty I was.
“Yeah, well…it got a little rough,” I said. I wasn’t gonna tell him all about the troll.
“Yeah, I had a great time,” I said. “But I desperately need a shower.”
“Yeah, man…you do.”
So I followed my own advice, showered, and got dressed for Joyce’s.