Lisa’s Private Thoughts – Nov. 26, 2009 – Thanksgiving With Uncle Nathan

I think everyone has memories of certain holiday gatherings that they’ll never forget.  Usually it’s because something really special or very unfortunate happened.  But how many of us can say they’ll never forget a certain Thanksgiving dinner because the host wound up fighting a duel with the intended dinner?

Well that’s what happened this year and I don’t think I’ll even need to watch the video I took of it, to help me remember.  However, I will be saving it to show any children or grandchildren I have down the road, so they can see what craziness can ensue when you let Uncle Nathan try to prepare a holiday dinner.

It all started about a week ago, right after Mom gave birth to my new baby brother Geoffrey.  I was on hand for the event, while Dad and Uncle Nathan stayed in the Waiting Room.  Mom had given strict instructions that neither of them were allowed to be on hand to watch.  In fact part of my job was to make sure they didn’t come in.

I asked Doctor Jack about it later and all he did was smirk and mumble something about a Dr. Quackenbush and associate, who had been on hand to help keep the patient relaxed.  The name sounded familiar to me so I Googled it afterwards on my laptop and found it was one of Groucho Marx’s personas from a movie called “A Day At the Races”.  Apparently, he’d played a veterinarian who also treated a rich woman as one of his patients.  Having seen Uncle Nathan’s Groucho impression I could only imagine what kind of nonsense he and Dad must’ve gotten up to inside the delivery room that day until Mom ordered the two of them out.

Anyway, right after Geoffrey arrived, Uncle Nathan offered to host Thanksgiving over at The Crypt.  “Between late night feedings and changing diapers I don’t think any of you are going to be up to shopping and prepping a big meal,” he pointed out.

Needless to say, none of us disagreed with him.  He even invited Dr. Jack and his family to join the festivities, which my favorite physician readily agreed to.  We didn’t see or hear from Uncle Nathan again for the rest of the week, which made my parents wonder if dinner was still on.  Then last night he phoned to let us know he’d been called away to help his old friend, Professor Otto Hofstadter, with a little ‘problem’ which they’d successfully resolved, and that we were still expected the next day at 5:00 PM.

Needless to say we left the house today and headed downtown.  Once we reached the building that housed The Crypt, we headed down the side alley where the stairs leading down to The Crypt awaited.  Dr. Jack and his family were just heading down the steps when we showed up and after the usual Thanksgiving greetings were exchanged, we all carefully made our way down the steps.  The door at the bottom was unlocked so we let ourselves in only to have our breaths taken away.

As usual, Uncle Nathan had really gone all out with decorating the place.  There was a huge table that could seat a couple of dozen people just on one side, in the center of the main room.  It was all decked out with candles, plates,fancy napkins, the works.  There was also a very expensive looking harp nearby, which meant we would probably be treated to some fine music afterwards.  As we all gazed around in wonder, I couldn’t believe he’d gone to so much trouble just for us, but I was glad at the same time.  “This was going to be one of the most memorable Thanksgiving dinners ever,” I breathed aloud, while everyone nodded in agreement.

Uncle Nathan appeared a moment later, wearing a white apron and a big chef’s hat.  After greeting each of us, he got everyone settled in and disappeared back to the kitchen area.  We were all excited and eager to see what he had prepared for us.  A moment later, he came back out carrying a huge glimmering silver platter.  Naturally it had a very shiny lid which was rather tall, leaving us all wondering how big a turkey he had gotten for the occasion.  However, knowing his sense of humor, I I half expected it to be a very small bird no bigger than a pigeon,  But much to my surprise and delight, when the cover was removed, there was indeed a very large bird on the platter.

After running back into the kitchen and returning with more dishes, he removed his hat and apron, and proceeded to brandish a very large fork, which he deftly sank into the turkey.  Only to have the bird jump up, remove the fork from itself and then waved an angry fist at him.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Brian’s E-Journal January 7th, 20–

I’m beginning to think I may have made a mistake in getting Uncle Nathan to transcribe all those letters and journals.  He hasn’t been himself since he started.  I’m guessing that even after a hundred and fifty years some wounds just don’t heal enough.  Though he already told me he’s determined to finish the task.  He really laments all the journals, pictures, and personal mementos  that were lost to him over the last century and a half.  At least in cyberspace they can never be lost.  Plus he really wants those of us who know him to really be able to understand all he’s seen and done throughout his long life.
 
I still find it hard to believe that he’s been around for almost a century and a half.  I don’t mean just the fact that he’s existed all that time, but what he’s seen and done over the decades.  He didn’t just sit around brooding and despairing about outliving all the friends and family he knew.   The man keeps looking ahead, eager to see new things will come.
 
I mean think about it.  Here is a man who has witnessed the birth of movies, television, computers, and so many other inventions that have changed the world.  Plus, he’s witnessed or even been part of historic events, both good and bad.  But that’s just the start.
 
He’s attended night classes at a number college and universities.  I know for a fact that he has at least two doctorates, three masters and I don’t know how many A. A. and B. A. Degrees.  He’s learned to play several musical instruments and is a master of ballroom and modern dance styles.
 
There are photos and posters from the stage and theater.  The man was actually part of Vaudeville, for crying out loud.  He knew some of Hollywood’s biggest names before the movie industry ever even existed.  God knows he’s made so many of us laugh performing some of his old skits, recreating some performances by other legendary figures like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harry Houdini, Rudolph Valentino (before the movies when he was mostly known for ballroom dance) The Marx Brothers and Mae West to name a few.
 

  

The Marx Brothers had a huge influence on him.  He learned to play the piano from Chico and later the harp from Harpo.  Right now, we’re in ‘The Crypt’ and Uncle Nate’s tearing up the piano in Chico’s style.
 
*Author’s Note: Click here to see Chico Marx in action:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfIVnzpj1vM
 
While his teacher was well known for polka and classical, Uncle Nate likes to let loose with a mixture of Jazz, Hip-Hop, and others while still using the same finger movements and comedy.   Even the youngest of the Hip-Hop crowd love to watch him in action.  Especially when he uses some of those comedic skills up at the turntables when he sits in for the club’s DJ.
 
He never has to worry about the owner of the place being bothered by his antics, he is the owner.  He acquired the building back during the Great Depression.  “The Crypt” is in the basement and is always open most of the night.  Alcohol is never served.  That came to an end back in Prohibition and he never lifted the ban.  He just wanted a place for everyday people to enjoy themselves.
 
Right now he’s up there getting his and everyone else’s groove going.  I could go on and on about him, but I think it’s better when these things come from him.  Which I’m going to try and encourage.  Transcribing the letters and journals are still important, but so is existing in the present.  This is something he’s taught me and so many others over the years.  I guess that’s why we love him so much and help keep his secret.  At least half of the club’s visitors know and keep quiet.  They also donate regularly so there’s always a supply for him in the refrigerators.  He only takes from people directly on rare occasions.  But that’s an entry for another day.  Right now, he’s stepping over to the piano and cutting loose there, and my feet are itching to get on the dance floor with my wife and children.  Even at forty we know how bust moves with the best of them.  Uncle Nate taught us the importance of always moving with the times and living our lives to the fullest.