My senior year of college, a friend who had graduated the year before and gotten a job and an apartment in town invited a whole gang of close friends over for a Thanksgiving dinner before we all left town for the holidays. A few of us girls went over to help him tidy up the bachelor pad and help with the final preparations before everyone else arrived. After we got there a couple of the girls decided to make a quick trip to the store while two of us stayed behind to help Bob.
While they were gone the timer went off indicating it was time to take the turkey out of the oven. We held our breath as Bob reached for the flimsy aluminum foil pan that was full almost to the top with a huge golden brown turkey and a pan full of bubbling broth. Twenty-nine years later I still remember the scene in slow motion: As soon as he lifted the pan, the corner buckled, at least a gallon of boiling turkey broth spilled over the side, we all screamed and jumped backwards and the turkey hit the floor with a sound I shall never forget as long as I live.
With more than a dozen friends on the way over, what else could we do? We picked up the turkey and put it on a platter. We reasoned that with the river of broth that hit the floor first, the turkey hadn’t actually touched the floor. We quickly mopped up the broth and sort of carved the now misshapen bird. We put the pile of turkey on the dining room table, thanked God that no one had been injured, swore we’d carry the secret to our graves, and were just hiding the evidence of the disaster when the others got back.
Cindy was everyone’s favorite bossy loudmouth. After seeing the turkey on the dining room table, she stormed into the kitchen with hands on hips to ask why we didn’t wait before we carved it. When she stepped from the carpeted hall into the kitchen she lost her footing on the wet floor and went skating across the room.
“What did you do in here?”
“We mopped the floor.”
“What did you mop it with? Grease?”
From then on, we couldn’t look at each other without laughing. And of course we confessed the secret we had vowed to keep. Everyone ate turkey anyway and we had a great afternoon together.
All these years later, I never cook a turkey without thinking about Bob, Cindy, Alison, Dana, Doug, Debbie, Robert, and all the other friends. And as I wipe up the inevitable splatters of turkey juice, I smile with the memory of a much larger mess, precious friends, and a spilled secret.