Nick and Steven were hanging out in the courtyard of the apartment building on Sunday morning.
“Did you see the UCLA-USC game last night” Steven asked.
“Yeah, but I don’t get it. UCLA’s cheerleaders don’t look like college girls. I mean they’re still good-looking, but they look like a bunch of MILFs,” Nick responded.
“I know! Florida State is like the college freshman who takes all these easy fluff classes and then says, ‘Ooh, look at me! I got straight A’s!’ If they beat Alabama, Oregon, or Ohio State, then I’ll believe in them,” Nick said.
“Well it sure doesn’t feel like it’s almost Thanksgiving. What is it, 75 degrees today? Back East it’s like the Arctic,” Steven complained.
“Yeah, didn’t the Buffalo area get buried under feet of snow?” Nick asked.
“Yes they did. And of course, you’ll have right-wing science-deniers point to this and say, ‘Look, it’s cold and snowy! I guess global warming is a myth!’”
“And they moved a Buffalo Bills game to Detroit.”
“Yeah, you know your city sucks when you say, ‘Screw this place, guys, let’s go to Detroit.’”
“Yeah, let’s be honest. This is the most attention a Bills game will get all season.”
Their conversation about football continued for a while, the only reminder to them that it was November, and the only connection to any traditional notions of autumn.
Later that day, Nick was talking to Kayla as she signed a Thanksgiving card to send to her parents. “It would be nice, one of these years, to have a traditional Thanksgiving,” Kayla remarked.
“What? Wait in the airport or sit on the freeway, go to the house of a relative you only talk to around the holidays, eat a ton of food that sucks but you can’t say anything with a bunch of people you’d rather not be sitting with sharing a meal, then repeat your arduous travel home, only to do it all again a month later at Christmas?” Nick asked.
“Yeah. Traditional Thanksgiving.”
“And where the hell are your parents now?” Nick asked. Kayla’s parents, retired restaurant owners, were touring North America in an RV.
“They’re in Monterrey, Mexico.”
“Well they wanted to go to Monterey, California, but my mom put one too many r’s into the Garmin, and it sent them to Mexico. When they saw a sign that said ‘Welcome to Mexico,’ they thought it was just a pejorative way of saying ‘California State Line,’ so they thought nothing of it until they got to Monterrey, saw no ocean, and realized they were in the wrong one.”
Meanwhile, next door in Steven and Amanda’s apartment, Amanda was lamenting about missing her parents. “This is the first holiday season I won’t be having dinner at home,” she said.
“Well, you knew it would be like this when you came to grad school out here,” Steven responded. “Why didn’t you go to the University of Maryland?”
“Because the people there are idiots. They play this stupid game, and the game is if you think about the game, you lose the game, and then you have to announce it to make everyone else lose the game. I don’t get it at all.”
“What about Penn State? You got in there.”
“Eww, that pervert school!? Okay, one of the grad students on my recruitment weekend tour said the first time he watched porn, it was robot porn. What sicko watches robot porn, and for their first porn watching experience at that?”
“Yeah, start off with a girl in a schoolgirl outfit wearing a horse head mask getting double ass penetrated while a death metal band plays in the background. You know, normal shit. Anyway, you really shoulda gone to Virginia. They have fish in Virginia, so it would’ve been perfect for you, and I could make more of a political difference in Virginia, which is a purple state.
Just then, Nick walked in. “Virginia? Fuck that place. State motto: ‘Go 72 on the freeway at night in no traffic, get a $175 ticket. Gang rape some chicks at your frat party, two years later, get told not to do it anymore.’ I mean, I don’t know what it is exactly in Latin, but I think that’s what it translates to.”
Meanwhile, in Charlottesville, Virginia:
[University president] in the tone of voice used to scold a small child for a minor infraction: Now guys, I heard there’s been some funny business going on over here at Phi Kappa Psi. You better cut it out, okay? I mean it this time.
[Frat brother #1]: Aww, shucks! We was just foolin’.
[Frat brother #2]: Yeah, gee whiz! We didn’t mean anything by it.
[University president]: Well to teach you boys a lesson, you’re all grounded until next semester.
[All frat brothers]: Aww man! No fair!
Back in Redondo Beach: “No, I just miss the traditional Thanksgiving with my family,” Amanda said.
“Yeah, Kayla’s been the same way. Now that her parents have been going all over the place in their RV, there hasn’t been a traditional, sit-down Thanksgiving dinner in their family for a while. I guess I’m a bit jaded. Growing up, the holidays were always such a pain in the ass in my family. Everyone made a big deal out of it, and it was more stressful than festive and enjoyable,” Nick explained. “Remember that time Christian asked that guy at Cal Tech to build him a robot to fill in for him at the restaurant?”
“Yeah,” Steven and Amanda responded.
“Well I had the guy make one of me, too, to fill in for me at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.”
Just then, Kayla walked in. “There you are, Nick! I had an idea, let’s all go to Mexico for Thanksgiving dinner with my parents!”
“That would be nice. It’s closer than the East Coast,” Amanda said.
“Yeah, and it’s Mexico, so you’re already thinking, ‘Aw man, I have a lot to be thankful for back home,’” Nick said. “But wait, how will we get there? They advise you not to drive your car into Mexico. American insurance companies won’t cover you there, so you have to buy Mexican insurance at the border, as if that’s trustworthy. Road conditions aren’t that great, so it’s more wear and tear on your car. Plus, with Mexico’s high crime rate, you’re at a greater risk for your car getting broken into or stolen.”
The idea seemed to die as quickly as it came up, but suddenly Nick exclaimed, “But wait a minute! They don’t tell you not to fly planes into Mexico!”
Sneaking up the hill to Dr. Brown’s compound in the wee hours before sunrise Thanksgiving morning were four figures. The issue of Dr. Brown noticing her jet being stolen was solved. As it has already been established, she stays up very late and by this time of morning is fast asleep such that a nuclear blast would not awaken her. And every Thanksgiving it was a tradition of hers to go down to Malaga Cove, count all the grains of sand, and declare her thankfulness for numbers. Since this takes a very long time, it was certain that she would not return to her compound before Nick and his friends had returned the jet and snuck back down the hill.
A ways into flight, over the Mexican desert, Nick asked Kayla, who was sitting in the cockpit with him, “Your parents know we’re coming, right?”
“Shit. I forgot to tell them.”
“No big deal, just text them.”
Kayla turned on her phone, ignoring the sage advice every flight attendant tells you when you fly commercial that communication devices can interfere with the airplane’s electronics. Suddenly, all of the pilot’s displays went haywire. Then, every screen went dark.
“Shit! I’ve lost all the avionics!”
Kayla had a blank stare.
“Those are all of the electronic displays that tell me everything about the plane! Speed, height, amount of fuel left, so on! And the GPS isn’t working! Wwe’re too high up to see landmarks, not that there are any in the desert, so I have no idea how to get there!”
Suddenly, the plane made a sharp turn and started to plummet.
“Now what!?” Kayla shouted.
“The autopilot somehow reprogrammed. It thinks I want to descend rapidly. Everything’s messed up! I can just shut it off.” Nick did with the press of a button, but by now, the plane was almost out of control. Nick decided to make an emergency landing on a desolate stretch of highway. He put the landing gear down and found a stretch of road that went straight for two miles. The plane landed and stopped, kicking up a cloud of dust.
Steven burst through the cockpit door. “What’s going on!? No one turned on a cell phone, did they?”
“I can use my phone’s GPS to see how far we are from Monterrey, and then I’ll just have my parents pick us up,” Kayla said. She turned her phone on, but all she saw was a chili pepper wearing a sombrero, and the chili pepper said, “Lo siento, señorita. Esto es México, y no tienes servicio aquí.”
“Wow, what a racist way of saying you don’t have service here! They could’ve gone with Benito Juarez, Miguel Hidalgo, but no, a chili pepper wearing a sombrero,” Nick said.
“Damn Verizon,” said Kayla.
“So what are our biggest concerns right now, survival wise?” Amanda asked.
“Well, we’re stuck in the desert in a plane whose electronics are shot. It can fly, but I’d be guessing at important details regarding its flight, and since all the alert systems are down, I might not know about a more serious problem, should it come up, until it’s too late. We have about a day’s worth of food and water on board. Otherwise, nothing around. We have scorpions and rattlesnakes to contend with. But our worst problem would be if any drug cartel members or crooked federales came across us,” Nick said.
Meanwhile, back in California, Dr. Brown finished her count of the grains of sand on the beach at Malaga Cove significantly ahead of schedule. She remembered such a thing called ‘standard deviation,’ and concluded that there were one billion, plus or minus infinity grains of sand. She ran back to her compound in excitement. She noticed a lot of footprints in the dirt.
“It looks like four people have recently snuck up this path,” she said, growing a bit alarmed. “No, must’ve been coyotes.”
She passed the hangar for the plane and noticed it was unlocked. “Did someone break in and steal my jet!? No, I must’ve forgotten to lock it last time,” she said. She took a key out of her pocket and locked the large door.
“Wait a minute. The air smells like jet fuel! That means a plane recently flew around here!” She started to unlock the door to check on her plane.
Down in Mexico, Nick and his friends figured out what to do.
“I suppose I can fly the plane at a low altitude and follow this highway. It has to lead into Monterrey, that’s the biggest city in this part of the country,” Nick said. He began to prepare for takeoff when a tremendous impact shook the plane. Nick ran into the cabin and opened the plane’s door. An RV was wedged under the nose section.
“It’s my parents!” shouted Kayla. The plane’s occupants went outside to meet Kayla’s parents. Both parties explained the situation. Kayla’s parents decided to head for Monterey, California, after figuring out their error. But the Garmin had told them “Definitely no chance of encountering a stolen Learjet parked on the highway, so no need to be on the lookout for one,” and they took its advice. Her parents had enough turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and sweet potato pie to go around, so it was decided that Thanksgiving dinner would be had right there on the side of the road.
Back in California, Dr. Brown remembered a very important part of quantum mechanics. “But wait, my plane is like a particle in a box. If I try to observe the system, I will force it into any one of an infinite number of possibilities, and therefore it will be impossible to know it with exact certainty. So if I check on my plane, whether I see it or not, I can’t be certain if it’s really there or if it really isn’t. So there’s really no point in checking.” Satisfied with her conclusion, she skipped merrily on her way. Yes, skipped.
Back in Mexico, after everyone had their third round of the traditional post-dinner tequila shots, Kayla’s parents prepared to show everyone pictures of Kayla when she was a toddler and dressed as a turkey for her preschool’s Thanksgiving play. At this time, Kayla decided it was time to leave. Then, they asked Nick if he had found Jesus yet. At this time, Nick decided it was time to leave. Steven and Amanda, who had been running drunkenly around the immediate vicinity of the plane attempting to play Frisbee with cacti, needed no great amount of convincing the board the plane and go.
“But since the plane’s GPS isn’t working, how will you know how to get back to the US?” Kayla asked Nick.
“Easy. Since Obama’s executive action on immigration will open the floodgates for illegals to come into the US, I’ll just fly low enough so that I can see the hordes of people migrating north and follow them,” Nick replied. “Once at the border, your phone should work, and we’ll use its GPS to get back home.” It was sarcasm, of course. Obama’s executive action really does jack shit, other than give Republicans something more to bitch about.
By the time they were on their descent into the airstrip on Dr. Brown’s compound, it was well after sunset. Dr. Brown had begun her nightly prance around her mansion to bagpipe music, and would be oblivious to a meteor crashing in her front yard, let alone a plane landing in the distance.
The next day, Nick and Kayla woke up and had breakfast in the kitchen.
“I think next year, we’ll just have a nice quite Thanksgiving dinner here,” Kayla said.
“Yeah. We’ll make it our tradition to do whatever we please,” Nick said.