Thanksgiving with the Tobbies

29 11 2009

I was in the middle of rolling a pork roulade when the phone rang. The caller I.D. flashed Robbie Tobbie. That’s my mom’s boyfriend. I had raw meat hands. I let it ring. I didn’t want to talk to him anyway. I should have never started being nice to him. Now he thinks we’re friends and gives me junk that he picks up at garage sales. 

Whenever I try to visit with Mom, it’s always the same thing. Robbie Tobbie shows up drunk, and continues to drink cheap beer between shots of Jack. Every five minutes he is woohooing! High fiving. Shaking hands.  Until he gets paranoid that we are conspiring against him. Then he goes to the garage to start up his the Nova that he’s had since he was 16. Revs the engine. He’s never actually had it on the road. Then he pulls the quad out and drives it around the loop of the driveway.

I placed the roulade in the fridge and washed my hands. He didn’t leave a message. I called mom.

“So why is Robbie Tobbie calling me?”

“Oh must be he’s mad because you won’t let him bring his dog.”

I had respectfully asked him not bring his dog. His puppy that growls and chews on table legs and has no shots.    

“Says if his dog’s not welcome, he’s not coming.”

Last Thanksgiving I sat at home and played video games, because Robbie Tobbie got mad and wouldn’t bring mom down. Mom has issues. She won’t drive outside the city that she was born in. It was one of my best Thanksgivings.

 “Do you need me to pick you up?”

“Well, I don’t know.”

I had pumpkin rolls in the freezer ready to thaw. Cranberry onion stuffing. Sautéed squash for the risotto.

“So you’re not coming?”

 The whole point of having Thanksgiving at my house was so that I didn’t have to drive two hours there and two hours back. I had to work the next day. Nobody else had to work. Both Mom and Robbie had been unemployed for over 2 years.  We had made these plans a month in advance. I bought all the ingredients and had almost finished prepping the entire feast. All they had to do was show up. But Mom couldn’t even do that.

 “I don’t know Duesie. I’ll call you back at 7”

Of course she didn’t call. When I called her, she didn’t pick up. She probably rushed over to Robbie Tobbie’s house to tell him I was mad.

 When I’m Up North, she pretends that they are not together. According to her she kicked him out months ago. Then she says that he won’t show up and acts surprised when he does. His picture still hangs on the wall in the living room.

After Robbie’s done riding the quad around the drive way, he passes out in her bed. But they’re not together. She’s mad that he owes her 2 years worth of rent. He just spent $6000 of is 401K on a gutted Nova. His unemployment runs out this month. No one’s going to hire him with his beer gut and missing teeth—not that he would ever pass as piss test.

Maybe she keeps him around as a chauffeur or to bring in firewood. She thinks she can control him, but she can’t. Robbie Tobbie does what he wants.

She called me back at 8:30.

“I don’t know, Duesie.”

“Fine,” I said. “I’ll bring dinner, but this is the last time.”

I carted a cooler full of Thanksgiving food 2 hours North.  Mom apologized the entire dinner. Robbie Tobbie ate in silence and plopped himself on the couch afterwards. No compliments. No thank you.

“I would have come down on Wednesday no problem if everyone had their shit together,” Robbie said from his spot on the couch.

I can tell by his tone that we’re not friends anymore. And that’s just fine.

“I’m glad I didn’t inconvenience anyone,” I said.

I imagined next Thanksgiving like a scene from Fried Green Tomatoes–Robbie Tobbie mysteriously absent while we munch on the best BBQ ever.

I wheeled my empty cooler to the car.

“Aren’t you staying, Duesie?” Mom asked

“I have to work in the morning, remember?”

“I could come back down with you.”

Maybe I would be the only one eating BBQ next Thanksgiving.

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