Our family practices the traditional Thanksgiving dinner every year. It consist of just the immediately family which numbers about a dozen people give or take a few. Cooking assignments are given out and everybody brings plenty of food and hearty appetites. Grace is said and the fellowship begins.
This Thanksgiving we had a guest at the table. I have a cousin named Shannon who has no family locally. Let me tell you a little about Shannon. She is in her mid forties , about five feet seven inches tall and probably a solid 225 pounds. I mean solid. Oh! Did I mention she is schizophrenic? Yes Shannon lives with a crew of like minded people and with a house parent. Her mental capabilities are probably somewhere like that of a six year old. She is also known to have a propensity for violence. She can be sweet as a kitten most the time although she likes to argue with her friends that only she can see. One Christmas we had to set extra plates out for them also.
Now let me tell you a little about myself. I’m somewhere around six feet tall and a svelte 280 pounds. I was a member of an elite Airborne unit in the army , well trained in hand to hand combat by some of the best the U.S. Army had to offer and an AAU boxer. I have hair down to the middle of my back and really do not care what other people think about it
As luck would have it I sat directly across the table from Shannon and sandwiched between my nephew and my brother in law, both over six feet and 200 pounds. I didn’t mind this at all for I had been talking with Shannon the entire time she had been here and everything was fine. Somewhere between the turkey and the collard greens things took a turn for the worse. I was minding my own business looking down at my food when I heard her say,”Did you stick your tongue out at me?”
I didn’t even look up because I thought she was talking to one of her “friends” but then I heard my sister say ,” no honey Eddie didn’t stick his tongue out at you.” What the hell? My head shot up and I was looking a certain ass whooping right in the face! Her eyes locked on mine and she said again but this time it wasn’t a question.” You stuck your tongue out at me.” Oh my God! She had the look a man gets right before he throws a punch. Chin down , eyes up and not blinking. My nephew was sitting at the end of the table next to her but he was gravitating my way trying to get out of the line of fire and behind me! But there was a problem with that. I told you who was sitting to either side but what I didn’t tell you was that my back was to the wall!
I looked down. I looked up. I looked side to side trying not to make eye contact. Here I was stuck at the table. I couldn’t get up and move nor could I bob and weave , feint left or right to dodge the blows that I knew were coming. I looked back up and she was still staring at me without blinking and the only thing separating us was a table covered with forks and knives! I immediately went into fight or flight mode and flight obviously wasn’t an option. I made a decision then that if she stood up or leaned forward I was making a preemptive strike. Yes that’s right. I was going to hit my mentally challenged female cousin right between the eyes if she moved. God I hope she doesn’t get up to get another glass of tea because this would not end well. And had anyone else at the table even noticed? Conversation and laughter still permeated my peripheral consciousness. What are they going to think when without warning I stand up and bop my cousin at the dinner table? Fortunately my sister diffused the situation again and everything returned to some semblance of normal. Except me. I was shaken and quickly left the table…taking the long way around.