Strove to find a way to punch people in the face by using the Internet.


How I Ruined Thanksgiving
My father is nothing if not methodical. A few weeks ago, he sent me an e-mail message asking if I'd be up for a little fishing when I drove down for Thanksgiving. Would I? Heck yes! I love fishing, Dad has a sweet boat and he suggested hitting a spot offshore, something I've never done. So after replying in the affirmative I was treated to a daily e-mail update in which Dad checked off preparations for our adventure:

11/12/2005 — "The boat is gassed, cleaned and ready to go. The weather should be good."


11/16/2005 — "I've purchased precisely 6.3 pounds of frozen Chilean squid, and am storing it at the constantly regulated, ideal temperature of 30.72 degrees to maximize it's fish-attractant qualities."


11/21/2005 — "I've rigged six poles; four offshore and two inshore. The offshore poles have each been strung with 230 yards of 25-pound test PowerPro and a six-foot steel cable leader. The inshore poles are strung with 75 yards of 12-pound test PowerPro, and each boasts a four-foot monofilament leader. I sharped each hook, as well as six back-up hooks per pole, on my foot-pump powered circular whetstone, and all sinkers have been hand-carved out of Moon rock by a lucky Gypsy I met out at the flea market."


11/23/2005 — "I reckon we'll drink some sodas."


...But also kind of a lot of pressure. I mean, that sort of a countdown really builds tension.

Anyway, Thanksgiving rolled around and I got to Dad's place in the afternoon and commenced to drinking. Thanksgiving dinner was great, and — compared to previous Hughes holidays — positively low-key. The food was traditional Thanskgiving fare, nobody set anything on fire or challenged anyone to a headbutting contest, and we all got properly and decently drunk on many many many beers and the occasional glass of wine. Despite a pledge to avoid this sort of thing and take the high road, we spent the bulk of the evening swapping stories about Cousin Barry, eventually retiring to our separate rooms to barricade the doors lest he show up there in the middle of the night with eyes full of murderous intent and a plate full of lasagna.

"What time do you want to head out, Pop?" I asked right before sacking out.

"Early," he said. Good man. Getting up early to fish is all-American and manly and helps keep the prostate clean of all that terrible, sissy communism going around. That shit will gum up your works.

You see this? This is a man that's ready to fish. Just look at that hat! You can't catch no fish without a proper hat. Yes sir, that's a motherfucker knows what he's doing.

So early turned into not-so-early the next morning, as I realized at the last minute that my fishing license had expired in 2003. Whoops! A few minutes later, though, and I had successfuly used Dad's computer to make buy one. We were just about on our way when — Whoops again! — I decided to run back in the house and grab a slice of leftover pumpkin pie for breakfast while Dad sat out in the boat glowering at his watch and gunning the engine. Eventually I got my shit together, and we were on our way. It was a beautiful day.

The magical robot owl from Clash of the Titans was on Dad's dock, and he was all like, "Turn back now, brave anglers! The signs and portents show nothing but trouble and consternation and doom in store for you!"

I was like, "We will not be dissuaded from our adventure, my little friend. Plus, you were totally just the comedy relief in that flick, and if I remember correctly couldn't even sit on that tree branch without spazzing out and making a big clockwork ass out of yourself. Hey Dad, remember in the beginning of that movie where you got to see that lady's titty?" He did.

At idle speed, it's about a 15-minute ride from Dad's dock out to the Gulf of Mexico. Scenic.

Dad's pretty old-school and conservative, but here on his keychain you can see his one concession to gay pride.

Check out the leash on those sunglasses. What do you reckon it's made out of, kryptonite? Does he think some teenagers are fixin' to come along and boost his shades or something? Also, if you look at Dad's arm, you can see the bear fat we smear on ourselves whenever we go fishing. This keeps away sand fleas and honors our Eskimo heritage.

I totally had to sneak that shot. Dad (and just about everyone else in the family) is pretty much on to this whole Bad News Hughes thing, and if he caught me whipping out the camera he'd unbutton his shirt, start yelling about blogs and thoroughly beat my ass.


When we fish inshore, we usually head for that power plant you can see off in the distance. Dad says when he eats the fish he catches there it makes him feel "pleasantly tingly."

The last bridge we go under before we can open her up and get up on plane.

Once in the gulf, Dad fired up his GPS and we started out for his spot, which was about eight miles offshore. We didn't make such good time because, while not exactly choppy, the water on this day featured constantly rolling four- and five-foot swells, and every three seconds the boat would come off one of those sumbitches and smash down on the water and jolt everything in the damn boat, but mostly me.

I was not digging this. At all.

Dad kept saying stuff that I didn't find too reassuring. He — no lie — told me a story about getting trapped in two thunderstorms, driving the boat blind while lightning crashed all around and his passengers (including Cousin Gartley) kneeled in the back, praying. He also busted out with, "I've never seen swells out here this big," and — in a move that was subtle, yet terrifying — acted genuinely surprised when we saw another boat.

Anyway, we got to the spot, threw out the anchor, and commenced to fish. The boat was rolling and heaving all over the damn place, and it took me approximately 42 seconds to turn an ugly shade of green and break out in a cold, greasy sweat.

I took this maybe three minutes before barfing up a gut full of pumpkin pie and Sprite all over Dad's boat. Seriously, I was clinging to the side for dear life and heaving my innards up, and not five feet away Dad is dressed like a pirate, swinging on a rope with a dagger in his teeth, and punching out a feisty pelican. What. The. Fuck.

A few minutes of pleading with Dad and he agreed to take me back home. In a lifetime of feeling bad, I don't think I've ever felt quite as shitty as I did on my first run-in with seasickness. My hands and legs were trembling and the whole world was giving me room-spins... Just miserable. Who knew I was such a giant puss? (Don't answer that.)

Dad dropped me off and headed back out by himself to arm-wrestle Neptune or whatever, and I went upstairs to lie down.

I didn't anticipate the fact everything in Dad's place is decorated in a jaunty nautical theme. I went back to bed, but the damn sheets were making me seasick all over again. I couldn't handle it.

Essentially, I'm a big girl, so I decided to soak in a hot bath for a while. Also, I got a bunch of barf on my arm, and wanted to wash that shit off.

I wasn't in there but about 10 minutes when I hear my stepmom Flo screaming from downstairs. I get out, dry off, head downstairs and this is what I see:

I guess me sloshing around in that tub like a big gay hippo caused something to go haywire. Water was pouring, absolutely pouring, through the foyer ceiling.

About 92 gallons of my soapy, grimy bath water collected in this light fixture. Kind of looks like a big ol' milk-swollen booby, huh? Erotic.

They called Dad's cell phone and he rushed back to clean up my mess and figure out what the hell happened. Here he's bailing out my dirty man-broth while Uncle Bob supervises and makes sure I can't get anywhere near it and cause any more trouble. Meanwhile they had to shut off the water to the house, and the plaster in the ceiling downstairs was starting to crumble and bulge.

So that's it. That's how I ruined Thanksgiving.

They kicked me out, so I drove back to Gainesville and spent the rest of the weekend sloshing around like a big gay hippo in my own house.


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