On this ship I am Cook. Hence my activities on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter are customarily pretty well established. I may experiment with the stuffing, or we may find some exciting novelty, like Holy Smokes’
fabulous smoked turkeys, but that doesn't bring any major variation in the drill. I've even grown more efficient over the years, so that's it's not particularly laborious anymore. In parallel with these prescribed actions, my mind spends Thanksgiving in a mildly crazed reverie of a nostalgic or wistful bent—at least it has been so since 2004, when, as I was readying to make my initial attack on the bird, the telephone rang, with a journalist at the other end, who asked if I would answer a few questions about an elementary school classmate of mine who was in the political spotlight at the time. The journalist seemed personable and serious, and I found myself happy to talk to him, the cordless phone cradled on my shoulder, as I seasoned the turkey and put it in the oven. He'd spoken to a good many others—school friends I remembered, others I'd forgotten...teachers as well, including our inspiring Latin teacher, Joe Agnelli, who helped set me off on a long voyage in Classical waters, the ancient world—the other hemisphere of history. The family thought I was crazy to talk on the phone like that, but there seemed no reason not to, as long as I had the use of my hands.