Did you have a good Thanksgiving? I did. But what would a real Thanksgiving be without a little drama?

For me, it started at Friendsgiving, the Saturday before the actual holiday. I walked up to a house in Fullerton with my date, our arms were locked as we walked through the gate and entered the house. We were quickly greeted by smiles and handshakes and told where to put our dish, some sort of macaroni that I had nothing to do with. Everybody attending the party was instructed to bring an appetizer or dinner dish or desert. My date was in charge of ours.

The evening was going well. When I wasn’t engaged in conversation I was silently vying for control of the TV with the few kids that were there. When they weren’t in the living room I would change the channel to college football. When I wasn’t in the living room they would change it to cartoons. That was our system; we didn’t even need to talk it through.

Things got interesting when a female guest at the party, one I had just met that night, asked me a pointed question. “Sam, why haven’t you been eating any of the appetizers? They are so good, I’ve eaten so many.”

People who know me know that I am skittish about two things: food and germs. So, generally speaking, I don’t eat much at events such as these, just enough not to be offensive. I eat beforehand and keep my mouth shut.

Family style eating with a lot of people makes me cringe inside, especially when there are more strangers than friends or family. I don’t think it’s very sanitary – everyone has their own definition of clean. It’s the hands. It’s all the hands bombing into the same bowl of chips. It’s all the hands spooning food out of the same dinner dish. I want to know where those hands have been and if they were washed after using the lavatory or sanitized after coughing or blowing their nose or shaking countless hands or smoking a cigarette. And I want to know a little information about the food I consume. I have a weak stomach and am borderline obsessed with healthy eating. Therefore, I want to know what I am actually consuming: the ingredients that were used, how much sugar, how much salt, how much butter, if processed foods and GMO’s were used. I want to know who made it and how it was prepared, if the cook washed their hands before making it.

“It is impossible for a man who is warm to understand one who is cold.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

My issues with food often go unnoticed at parties so when this girl put me on blast about the appetizers I kept my cool. I told her I was waiting for dinner and figured that would be the end of it. But she had zeroed in on me for some reason. When everybody lined up to eat dinner I stayed back. When she asked why I told her that I didn’t want to wait in a long line. When the line had dispersed and I didn’t jump up to get food she began asking if I had an eating disorder so I told her I was getting up right now to fix a plate. My date stuck up for me and began telling this girl that I have always been this way; that I am super picky about my food. When I came back with a modest size plate of turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing I figured she would be satisfied. But she wasn’t.

I kept thinking about this one quote by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn that says, “It is impossible for a man who is warm to understand one who is cold.” I obviously wasn’t going to tell this girl my life’s medical history or that I had had a kidney transplant and am suppressing my immune system so I simply did my best to ease her angst without upsetting anybody which I am pretty good at by now.

~

Fast forward five days to Thanksgiving Day where about twenty or so family members gathered at my aunt’s house. I know the ways of my family and was feeling a little better about the eating method. Thanksgiving has always been special for me because I am a Thanksgiving baby having been born on November 20. We always sing happy birthday and have birthday cake for me on Thanksgiving so I feel as though my birthday is a holiday.
Our family has a few toddlers running around these days. I love our little monsters to death. In fact, I am godfather to one. But you have to draw the line somewhere. My birthday cake was with all the rest of the deserts. I had been eyeing it all day just waiting to take a bite of the white cake with white frosting and blue lettering spelling out, Happy Birthday, Sam, with a few Superman cake toppers on it. The first time I saw a discreet finger swipe at the bottom of it I tried to ignore it. Later, I saw a few aggressive ones in the middle and rolled my eyes. Then I saw my adorable five-year-old second cousin on his tippie-toes with his finger in the cake. That’s about the time I pulled the plug in my mind about the whole cake idea.

For some reason, my aunt asked me a few minutes later what I thought of the cake this year. Every year she goes out of her way to make sure there is a spectacular birthday cake for me. I play along when she says she baked it even though I know she pays the bakers at the store to make the cake in her glass baking dish. I was off my game or something because I quickly regretted what came out of my mouth.

“It looks great but I won’t be eating any this year.”

“What!? Why not?”

“Sterling has had his fingers in it all day. He’s my boy but he is still germy. He’s had those same fingers in his nose and mouth all day, too. I saw him eating food off the ground not that long ago.”

She flipped out. Ultimately, I had to tell her I would eat the cake, but between you and me, I didn’t.