Ok. So it’s thanksgiving. Our family was invited to our aunt’s house. Great! I won’t have to slave this year, after spending hours shopping.
The extra-long line at the supermarket, while waiting for the ring-ring can be bothersome. So, I should be happy, right? My answer is NO.
Last night around 11:00 P.M. I thought, “What is Thanksgiving without leftovers?
So I got up and headed to the store. I wanted to bake just enough for us to nib on Friday, and possibly Saturday. But, to my surprise, the early birds had already cleared out the turkey reservoir. Yes, all the turkeys had flown away, and forgotten their breast behind.
Just them, I noticed a tall woman, covered from head to toes; as if she was living in Alaska, during a snow storm. I knew she was from Haiti; one of my compatriot.
She was robbing her hands together, while saying: “Houhouhouhouhou!” While she opened the boxes of sausages in front of her. That’s our landmark; which stands for: “We are freezing.”
Mind you, the store temperature was probably no lower than 70.
Exactly! Hope you see what I mean.
She was the prey, and I was the predator.
Who else in the whole Walmart store, would satisfy my thirst of humor on that crazy night? So, after I slowwwwly walked toward her, I addressed her in English to her.
Of course, I could have have spoken to her in our native language, which is Creole. But, what would be the fun in doing that? Come on – be smart!
“Cold?” I said to her.
“Oh yah – Yah! Feezing here – like thirtee degrease here!” She answered me, while robbing her hands together.
I feel your pain. I said. Immediately I turned my head toward the piles of chicken broth cans, which was on the opposite side of her. I didn’t want the poor woman to see me laughing.
“So, where are the turkeys this year?” I asked her while I touched my bald head.
She answered me: “ TheTork-Keys, their – there! Ovathere! Smallone – Smallone. Piti!” (Piti, which in creole meant small)
I responded, “No, they are turkey breast, I’m looking for.”
Then, she started walking, as one who had just joined the army, and was still rehearsing her book camp march. She pointed her finger. “See, Tork- keys here. “Oh! This chicken?”
I replied, “No. Those are turkey breast.” while pointed my finger on the word breast, so she can see what I meant.
She grabbed one of the package, to read it for herself. Then she said: “Oh! Tis is NOT tor-key! Oh! Tis is breast. “Ohoh! Tis is Tété! (Tété meaning breast in creole.) Ah! What is tis?”
Since I didn’t want to spoil our language venture, I continued my inquiry in English.
“You think they might still have some whole turkey in the back?”
“They should, this is Tinsvirgul!” (Trust me, this is not a Creole word. She meant to say “Thanksgiving.”
“You mean, “Thanksgiving!” I corrected her.
“Ah! Me! Can neveur –neveur say “Tinsvirgul.” (I can never, never say thankgiving).
Thank Gooodness, while we were talking, a younger staff member walked by her. She turned her head to call her.
“Hey! Marthe, we haf tork-key back there? Only Tété here; no tor-key.’
Marthe answered, “But, tété is turkey auntie!”
“No. It’s not tor-key. In our country, tor-key is leg, win, neck, bouda (butt) and backbouda.” “But auntie, those people sale the breast separate for the white folks, who don’t eat bones like us. They only eat that white meat. This is the most expensive part of the turkey, and, in the chicken as well. You guys use to be stupid for throwing them away back home. At school they said.” Then she turned to me to say “Well I’m in school during the day, but I work here at night.
“Fout! The older woman yelled. (Meaning “Damn it” in our language) “Stop telling people (people) your business. Go look for the tor-key, she waitin.”
Marthe immediately stops talking about her school project. Before she walks away, she asked me, “So, you want a whole turkey?”
“Yes. I prefer a whole one, preferably a medium .”
“Well! I think they only have the small ones back there anyway. Same as the breast over here.”
“Fout! I told you, go gettheTORKEY!” The older lady yelled at her again.
Marthe immediately started walking. From a distance, I heard her saying “Don’t know why Mamma didn’t’ leave you fry in Haïti! Don’t know why I offered you that damn job either!”
“You go buy other stuff and Koume bak. I ‘m here?” (Meaning: You can continue shopping, then come back. I ’ll be here.)
“Ok. Thanks.” I answered her with a smile.
When I came back, she handed me a turkey. About the same size as the large breast I had pointed to her earlier. While she was shaking her head, she said: “I tall (told) her a tor-key, she get me a chicken.”
“Well, that’s actually a turkey.” I answered her.
‘No. That a chicken. Tor-keys NOTSMALL.” I did not pursue the conversation. I figured, why force the donkey to drink water. I know those old folks form my country.
However, before I left, although I wanted to reveal to her of my Haitian root. But, after hearing a couple “FOUT” when she yelled at her niece; she reminded me of my mother. I didn’t want the water to start spilling.
So I walked away with the TOR-KEY, which according to her, was a CHICKEN.
When I wished her a Happy Thanksgiving.
She answered me “Ah fout Tinsvirgurl! Have to wak in this cool.”
She meant to say “Damn Thanksgiving – since I have to work in this cold!”