The other day, my 16-year-old son and I were watching Bess bake cornbread.
She pulled a pan from the oven and flipped a massive wheel of cornbread onto a cooling rack. It looked and smelled great, but it also contained certain cracks and imperfections.
No worries. We discovered these could easily be removed by hand and eaten.
If I’d been eating cornbread with my other two sons, we’d be talking about, well, cornbread.
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The conversation would go something like this:
“Man, cornbread sure is good!”
“Yeah, especially when it’s hot out of the oven!”
“You know, I believe this is some of the best cornbread ever!”
“You got that right!”
And so on. But the 16-year-old is a different breed of cat. He’s smart but also kind of cocky and contrary, which means he wants to figure out what side you’re on and take the other side, even if he actually agrees with you, and then talk in rapid-fire sentences until you want to find a tall building and jump off it.
In other words, he’s on the debate team.
Which means he wasn’t talking about cornbread while we were eating cornbread — he was talking about the current state of America.
Except it quickly became clear that we agreed with each other.
We agreed that Americans should be worried right now — and we agreed that this would have been true regardless of who’d won the election.
Oh, and we agreed that Donald Trump’s unlikely victory somehow led to the events of last Saturday, in which three of college football’s top four teams, all of them undefeated, suffered embarrassing losses.
But for a debate kid, a conversation in which both people agree is not much fun. So while we agreed that this year’s presidential campaign felt like a nightmare, we disagreed on the factors that led to it.
I thought it had something to do with the inability of parties and candidates – and yes, the media – to understand the American people and their frustration.
On the contrary, my son proposed another culprit: The Chicago Cubs.
By winning Game 7 of the World Series and ending the curse, the Cubbies threw the course of history out of whack.
“That’s all you’ve got?” I replied. “The Cubs?”
My son got that little gleam in his eye, which meant he was about to kick it up a notch.
“Well, sure,” he said, “but I didn’t mention what led to the Cubs.”
“I’m all ears,” I said.
“The supermoon,” he said.
A supermoon, he went on to explain, happens when a full moon or new moon coincides with the moon’s perigee, which is its closest approach to earth.
And Monday’s supermoon was the closest a full moon has been to the earth since 1948, and the closest it will be until 2034.
I nodded. The dates didn’t really seem to match up with the World Series or the election, but as a one-word answer to explain the mysteries of the universe, “supermoon” seemed just about perfect.
At that moment, I realized I’d eaten about a pound of cornbread. The wheel was still misshapen, but much smaller. More cornbread was in the oven.
By the end of the night, Bess had produced a mountain of it, along with dozens of buttermilk biscuits. We ate some of the biscuits in the morning, with sausage, but saved most of them. That night, she roasted chicken for dinner, but set aside the drippings.
Now, in the next few days, Bess will take the cornbread and biscuits and drippings and mix them together in a pan with other ingredients to create that magical concoction called Thanksgiving dressing.
The holidays can’t get here soon enough.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.