By popular demand (one person asked about it a couple weeks ago), I am reprinting one of my favorite newspaper columns of all time. Think back now to 1981… to the plight of an unfortunate newlywed…
Mr. Ex informed me just a few weeks after we tied the knot that he would be spending our first wedded Thanksgiving on the backside of Saddle Mountain, in the northwest corner of Oregon. He was going elk hunting with his former in-laws and an assortment of old Tillamook buddies. “It’s a tradition,” he said.
No problem, I thought, I can show him I’m as good a sport as any bride during the first month of marriage. In hindsight, I should have realized the honeymoon was over.
The plan was for Mr. Ex to leave early in the week to help set up the base camp. Since none of the trailer stoves could accommodate a whole turkey, I’d bring it with me Thursday morning—fully cooked—right out of the oven. The other provisions of our feast would be “potluck” from the assemblage of hunters.
At the appointed hour I was transported, along with the turkey, up the snow-packed twists and turns of the coast range to the makeshift hunting lodge. So far, so good.
The trailers and campers were backed into a rough circle. Tarps were strung from one vehicle top to another, forming a pseudo-canopy. All the doors opened toward the center. A burning barrel kept the common area toasty warm. Rounds of tree trunks served as both tables and chairs and were split into firewood as needed.
Mid-day we spread our banquet among the fir boughs. And what a banquet! Most memorable of the eclectic taste offerings was a roaster pan brimming with hamburger gravy. “It’s the only kind of gravy I know how to make,” said the cook with a shrug.
After our feast, we headed out for the late afternoon hunt. Two hours of bouncing and bumping over rutted goat trails passing themselves off as roads took its toll on my bladder. “I’ve GOT to GO,” I whispered to Mr. Ex.
He gave me one of those looks—the kind that makes you want to apologize even if you know you haven’t done a darn thing wrong. A steep snow bank hugged my side of the truck, a deep gulch graced his side. He stopped the pickup right where it was. “There’s a roll of TP in the glove compartment.”
I edged my way around the vehicle. Finding no shrub to protect my modesty, I squatted down behind the truck, balancing myself by holding onto the bumper. Meanwhile, Mr. Ex checked in with the other hunters via the CB radio.
“Hurry up,” he hollered out his open window. “One of the guys is about a quarter mile back around the bend and heading this way.”
Now, I don’t know for sure if guys can do this, but somehow I managed to stop what I was doing mid-stream. Frantically, I tried to hoist my undies, panty hose, long-johns and jeans back to their proper place. “Tell him to wait a minute!” I shrieked.
At that precise moment, the Demon of Divorce instigated initial contact. Mr. Ex slid the pickup into gear and took his foot off the brake, slowly rolling on down the road, away from the bride whose language now indicated a total lack of good sportsmanship.
The majority of my clothing still around my knees, I began to run after him like a duck to a corn feed. Above the maniacal laughter of Mr. Ex, I could hear the engine of the approaching vehicle. I looked back over my shoulder only to discover that 40 or 50 feet of baby blue toilet paper trailing behind me.
That year will go on record as being the quietest Thanksgiving weekend of all time.