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Every now and then, circumstances of life create a situation in which we're called to try and accomplish something way, way beyond our comfort zone. At a moment of crisis, we're asked to stand and deliver, realizing that we are the Last Line of Defense, the Wall That Must Not Be Breached.

During those moments, we may be called on to lead, to act quickly with clarity, to take that bold step that moves us forward, to cook a turkey.

And a ham. And some rolls. And make a salad, but come on, that was just dumping lettuce in a bowl and throwing in some croutons. Once you get past figuring if Romaine was involved, maybe not that hard. Let's skip that one.

As far as the rest of it, due to a late urgent request that came after one of the Lovely Mrs. Smith's business trips had already been scheduled, I was elected to cook our youngest son's "Friendsgiving" dinner.

I say "elected" in the sense that I didn't even know I was running until I found out I won. Which, not gonna lie here, did color the enthusiasm at the watch party.

An aside here: "Friendsgiving" is apparently that Thanksgiving meal you attend with the people you really want to eat with prior to eating with the people you have to. OK, perhaps harsh, but on the face of it, it sure seems accurate.

Either that, or it's you hanging out with your friends, except instead of wearing sweats and eating cold pizza from the previous night, you have to wear nice-ish clothes and eat turkey someone's dad made.

Anyway, because this gathering was for our youngest, and because the culinary skills he and his friends possess involve deciding whether you want to cook your Ramen in the microwave or on a hot plate, parents were involved.

And because at the moment he needed the food I happened to be the only parent in the same time zone, well, it was me.

Another aside here: I don't cook well. I'd like to say I learned it from my mother, who was also not a great cook, but that's a little bit of blame-shifting.

I used to fry the family turkey until I realized that created a Superfund clean-up site's worth of toxic peanut oil. At that point, we went back to the Lovely Mrs. Smith working her culinary magic.

Given that, having me make the meal was definitely leaving the project in the hands of the weakest link in this specific food chain. Certainly a recipe for disaster. I know, I know. The thing with "dad jokes" is when they start, you just have to let them go.

Now the issue of my general incompetence in this area was easy enough to overcome by having the Lovely Mrs. Smith just tell me what to do and when to do it. I mean, that works in most other areas, so probably a good idea here.

The challenge was, the process of getting a turkey from the refrigerator to the oven was just a lot harder than I had observed. Mostly when someone else was doing it.

For one thing, a "ready to go in the oven" turkey is an unpleasant-looking, slimy, cold, heavy piece of poultry. It reminds me of the saying that you should never try to wrestle a pig in the mud because you'll both get dirty but the pig likes it. Except in my case I wasn't wrestling the turkey in the mud annndddd ... the turkey was dead.

Which is probably good because I've discovered properly preparing a turkey requires things being taken out of places and things being put into places that I'm sure the bird would have found alarmingly personal. I know I did.

Apparently I managed to do all this correctly and I actually cooked a turkey worth eating. Of course, it's important to remember I was feeding college kids here, so chances are good anything that didn't taste like dorm cafeteria mystery meat was probably going to be greeted like it had been prepared by Gordon Ramsey.

No one got sick, which I would acknowledge is a remarkably low bar, but a fairly important one.

So, I did it. OK, I did enough of it that we'll round up and consider it done. And I think it's taught me important, valuable lessons that I can impart to my children. Lessons about getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new that scares you a bit.

And, most importantly, caterers. You really need to know about them.

Commentary on 11/29/2019

Print Headline: A celebration of Dadsgiving

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