Saturday, August 29, 2009

68: Thanksgiving, Part I

Sunday evening, Monday, and Tuesday flew by in what felt like a matter of hours. When I wasn't at work, I was trying to come up with a lesson plan. I bought a Russian-English dictionary, which I figured would come in handy, and I watched YouTube videos upon YouTube videos of interviews with hockey players.

I figured that Evgeni and I would focus a lot on potential questions he might get asked during interviews. Then we could expand his repertoire of responses, which would hopefully involve using proper grammar. Also, I'd work on building up his vocabulary. Let's face it; reporters ask dumb questions sometimes, and who knows what they'd pull out of their asses. Gonch couldn't be around all the time to interpret for him.

Geno was pleased as punch that I was going to help him but was sad that our first lesson would take place on Saturday afternoon. I loved his enthusiasm though. I knew I would have an easier time of this with an eager student, but I was still nervous as hell. What if I couldn't do a good enough job? What if I just let Evgeni down?

Luckily for me, I didn't have a lot of time to worry about it. My evenings were filled with research. I felt like I was back in college and doing homework. It felt good to have something to occupy my time, and something that was contributing to a bigger picture than just me.

On Wednesday, I left for the game after work to see the Pens host the Canadiens. I relaxed with The Girlfriends and cheered for the team. Even though Crosby put up two points, the Pens still lost to Montréal. I ran into that flock of fans again that I had seen the Saturday before. They shrugged at me, and I said, "Tough break tonight."

"But against the Habs? Why did we have to lose against the Habs?" one of them groused with his head hanging low.

"Are you kidding?" I asked, trying to lighten the mood. "At least it's not the Caps. Or worse, the Flyers."

They nodded but left not feeling any more consoled with the loss. I appreciated that Pens fans were so emotionally invested in the team's wins and losses, but I knew if they were this upset, Sidney would be in a worse mood. I waited patiently in the lounge for him, but all the other players had left by the time he emerged from the dressing room. I knew he had media stuff, but he never kept me waiting like this before.

When he finally met up with me, he didn't crack a smile or even kiss me in greeting. Sidney just breezed past me, barely saying hello, and I had to scramble to catch up to his determined strides out of the lounge.

"Good game, Sid," I said. He turned around, and I held up my hand to stop him from whatever self-deprecating comment he was about to unleash. "Take it for what it is. You played well, which can be completely unrelated to the outcome of the game."

Sidney shrugged at me. I knew he'd trade his two points for a W for the team. I wanted to tell him that it's physically impossible for a hockey team to win every game in the regular season and still expect to have the stamina required to make it to the playoffs and win, but I knew that would be wasted breath. He wouldn't listen to anything positive I had to say about a loss.

"I've gotta pick up a copy of the game. Just gimme a few minutes," he said, walking down the hallway to the tech room. He talked to someone for a few moments, got a DVD, and then he charged by and headed toward the parking lot. I followed him like a lost puppy, afraid to say anything that might sour his mood even more.

The ride home was silent, but he held my hand over the center console. It didn't make up for his crappy disposition, but I knew he was doing the best that he could. I squeezed his hand to let him know that I understood. He squeezed back and talked, without taking his eyes off the road.

"I'm sorry. I know it's not fair that I take this out on you. But I'm just pissed, and I need some time to work through it."

"Okay." I worried that Sidney was taking this so hard. He did play well this game, so it's not like he needed to worry about what he needed to do to improve his own strategy.

When we got back to his house, I started up the stairs only to find that Sidney planted himself in front of the TV to watch the DVD of the game. "Go on upstairs. I'll be up shortly," he dismissed.

"Are you sure?" I questioned. I wasn't asking if it was okay that I head up to bed without him, but if he was sure that he'd join me soon.

"Yeah, go ahead."

I nodded and got ready for bed, brushing my teeth, pulling my hair back, and slipping into one of his dress shirts before climbing into bed. His button-downs were quickly becoming my favorite sleepwear. I managed to stay awake for half an hour before I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore, and Sid still hadn't retired for the night.

In the morning, I woke up and found Sidney beside me. I hardly ever woke up before him. Nudging him, I encouraged him to get up and start getting ready.

"What the hell? It's seven. Let's sleep in."

"Did you forget? It's Thanksgiving. We've got to drive back to my house. I told my parents to expect us around nine."

"Fuck," he groaned.

"You did forget," I chastised him. "You were probably up half the night watching that damn game."

"Baby, I told you—"

"And I told you, do not call me 'baby,'" I grumbled, throwing the covers off me and swinging my legs over the bed. Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays. It's the reason I came to Wednesday's game, and he was supposed to meet members of my extended family; how could he just forget about it?

"What bug crawled up your ass?" he hissed.

I shot him a look that I hoped conveyed the girth of my anger and then headed for the guest bathroom in the hallway to shower and get ready. I was so angry that I could hardly stand to be in the same room with him. Sid was grumpy and tired, and we hurriedly got ready and left without a word. The car ride was awkward, but as soon as we walked into my house, he turned on that Crosby charm that made everyone fall in love with him.

The bird was already stuffed and in the oven, so we all sat in the living room and watched bits and parts of the Macy's parade. My parents had taken the couch, and when I had tried to step away from Sid and sit alone in the rocking chair, he pulled on my hand and made me sit on the love seat with him. Sidney didn't let go of my hand once I was beside him; instead, he rested our hands on his knee.

His thumb rubbed circles on the palm of my hand, and I tried to ignore the tingling sensation that his touch burned into my flesh as well as the calm that washed over me. Sid was smiling and laughing with my parents, and I looked at him. As much as I couldn't stay mad at him, I was mad at him for making me not stay mad at him. Does that make any sense? Even I was not immune to the infectious Crosby charm.

When other members of my family began to arrive, my cousin Jane gladly handed one of the twins to me. She was exhausted and loved family functions, because it meant she got some peace from the kids. They were only a few months old, which is the perfect age for babies. They aren't newborns, but their cries aren't obnoxiously loud yet either. I cooed at Thomas. Or was this Jacob?

I made the grand introductions. "So, Sidney, I would like you to meet my cousin Jane, her husband Tim, my Aunt Linda, and my grandparents Dorothy and George. Everyone, this is my boyfriend Sidney."

Sid stood up and shook hands with everyone, being polite and charismatic, and they all shot me approving looks. Which in turn made me feel crazy for getting so pissed this morning. The womenfolk headed into the kitchen to start the preparation of the day's feast. Every other year, I would join them as the guys tuned into the football game, but they all insisted that I stay with Sid and make sure Grandpa George didn't lay into the new guest.

Despite my earlier outburst, I felt quite contented to sit on the loveseat with Thomas in my arms and Sidney beside me. Babies always made me feel maternal, but I liked handing them back when I was finished holding them. Despite telling myself to not go there, my mind wandered anyway and I wondered what it would be like if Thomas was our son. Sid turned to me and hung his arm around the back of the loveseat, and I spied an unrecognizable emotion in his eyes when I caught his gaze.

"So, Sidney, tell us about yourself," Grandpa began. Here it comes.

"Well, I play hock—"

"Yeah, yeah, I reckon you play for the Penguins. That's not what I asked."


"I want to know why you're looking at Red that way."

"Red?" Sidney questioned, looking at me with a smirk. Grandpa had called me that ever since my hair grew in. As a kid, I was a ginger, but even though my hair had darkened to a deep auburn with age, he still called me Red. "I'm not sure what way you're referring to, sir."

"Like you're looking at her and imagining she's holding your own son."

Even his ears turned pink. "No, I wasn't. I mean, maybe for a second I—"

"Grandpa," I said sternly. "Don't scare him. Please? I really like this one," I joked. "That's why I brought him to dinner."

"I don't want you even thinking about kids until there's a big diamond ring on my granddaughter's left hand."

"Grandpa!" I cried.

"What? I don't want you getting knocked up by some professional athlete who's going to act like nothing more than a sperm donor." I knew he was forward, but this wasn't what I expected.

Sid looked shocked. "I assure you, sir, that that will not happen. I'm appalled you'd even think I'd do something like that to Noelle."

"Me too, Grandpa," I groaned. "Don't you think I'd be wise enough to pick someone better than that?"

"I don't know," he countered. "You've never brought anyone around for us to meet."

My cheeks burned. "I've never been this serious about someone before."

Grandpa grinned, as if getting the answer he was looking for. He turned to Sidney and said, "Then when are you going to put a ring on my granddaughter's finger?"

I didn't wait around to hear anything else, because not only did I want to spare myself the embarrassment of my grandfather's brazen comments, but I also didn't want to have to go through this whole thing again. I stood from my seat, gave Thomas back to his father, and ran up the stairs to my room. I paced and told myself to breathe, trying to ward off this panicky feeling.

It was too soon for my family to think like this. It was too soon for me to think like this. I mean, normal people didn't worry about this stuff yet, did they? Oh, screw normal. Like anything about this relationship with Sidney has been normal.

An idea struck me, and I looked at my calendar. Yup, I was due for my period. This was all just crazy PMS fucking with my emotions. That explained why I got so angry with him this morning (even though I had every reason to—or was that the hormones talking again?). That explained why I did a complete one-eighty and felt all domesticated just minutes ago. But I just didn't have the time to freak out right now and get emotional. We had guests. This was Thanksgiving, and this was the most important family holiday to me, moreso than Christmas, and Sid's first real American Thanksgiving. I didn't want to ruin this.


  1. So I was getting all irritated that they were bickering and stuff... and then enter Grandpa. OOOHHHH dear old grandpa. I love it!!

    I am a little suspicious though... but I'll keep my mouth shut, and just wait to see what happens in the future. =D

  2. Poor Sid! Grandpa was a little harsh on him!! Great update! Can't wait for more!

  3. I am a little suspicious though... but I'll keep my mouth shut, and just wait to see what happens in the future.

    I agree with you Kristina. But I loved the chapter!! Can't wait to see what other "wonderful" family moment happens next.

  4. that sounds like my grandpa.
    WHY ARE YOU LEAVING ME HANGING!!! has no1 told u its the offseason and pens fans HAVE nothing to do??
    haha jk

  5. I just read Ch. 1 to Ch. 68 in one sitting. It was a dreary Sat. afternoon in Wisconsin when I started and I was immediately riveted. This story rocks, rocks, rocks, and Jay, you are a fabulous writer...I am sad that it took me this long to find this story, but so happy that I am now caught it all, and I can't wait to see how the rest of Thanksgiving dinner goes...

  6. Poor Sid. I'm shocked he didn't run upstairs after her.

    Haha the fact that she was mad at him for not letting her stay mad at me was classic. I'm like that with my bf. It's so frustrating!

  7. Wonderful chapter!
    I'm a little suspicious as well*
    And I love that he called her Red! Haha*

  8. OH! That was close, I thought Sid wouldn't make it to Thanksgiving... And like Kristina and Caitlin, I'm getting a little suspicious, but I hope we are wrong, I really hope...

    Can't wait for part 2. What about tonight, Jay? :D

  9. yeah, how about part 2 tonight? *hint hint*

  10. Really! Part 2 tonight! Please?????

  11. part 2 plzzzzzzzzz!!!!!

  12. Ahh Jay! I am completely in love with the "badassery" of Nelly's grandpa. His grilling Sid was priceless.

    Anyway, I'm really curious to see what happens in Part Two!!

  13. I agree.. the "badassery" rocks. Massive points to gpa.

    And yes, I'm quickly figuring out how frustrating it is about not being able to stay mad.. what the hell.

    Anyways, can't wait for part two. :-)

  14. haha way to go grandpa =]

    and i feel so out of the loop, what is everyone suspicious of????

    anyway great chapter....cant wait 4 part 2

  15. AHHH t minus seven and a half hours til you posttt! I can't wait to see what happens!!