Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

Classic Thag, November 2010: Your Holiday Dinner on NBC Sports

with 2 comments

Originally posted November 29, 2010

Bob: Welcome to 2010 Christmas dinner at the Johnson home, brought to you by Jack Daniel’s and Big Bob’s House of Psychotherapy and Amusement Park. I’m Bob Costas, and with me is Greg Gumble.

This year’s feast once again pits two classic rivals against each other. In one corner we have Beatrice Johnson, a veteran housewife of twenty-two years, defending her title as author of the finest roast turkey. She has fended off challenges from many quarters in recent months, and now comes the final showdown of the year. Opposing her is her mother-in-law, Louise Delmar, grandmother of six and title holder in several categories, including Passive-Aggressive Put-Downs and Backhanded Compliments. Greg?

Greg: As you said, Bob, the drama has been building in the extended Smith clan for quite some time. Just last month, when Beatrice and Jared officially sent the invitations to today’s event, Delmar and her husband of eight years, James Delmar, waited until the very last moment to confirm their attendance, in a bid to make Beatrice stew as long as possible. But Beatrice saw it coming, and deflected the move handily by getting the skinny on her in-laws’ attendance from another relative in whom Delmar confides. Delmar tried to retaliate by insinuating to Jared that Beatrice had made a grave error in the family’s choice of upcoming vacation venue – Busch Gardens – and questioning her ability to properly raise Delmar’s grandchildren. However, the Johnsons had already talked over that possibility before that phone conversation last week, so Delmar’s move had little impact. We’ll see today how the two competitors continue to maneuver and try to score points.

Bob: Right now the guests are arriving, and the meal is scheduled to start in about five minutes. The Johnsons decided against serving cocktails before the meal, mostly to deny Delmar an opportunity to belittle their selection and taste in beverages. But she just muttered a wry comment just above a whisper, as if only to her husband, but really so everyone around could hear, something to the effect that Beatrice must be ashamed of her drinks, so she refused to serve any.

Greg: The Johnsons probably expected that kind of thrust, but are willing to relinquish the early, relatively minor, score in order to avoid a more specific, damaging move by the opponent. It’s hard to tell from the replay, but I believe that when Beatrice took Delmar’s coat, she intentionally hung it in the closet in such a way that it will crease badly. The Johnsons are definitely pressing the advantage they have at home.

Bob: With the children running interference, Beatrice now takes the time to check on the Turkey. Delmar exploits the opening and distributes candy to the young ones.

Greg: A shrewd move on her part, Bob. She plays to her strength as the grandmother. In one swift motion, she both gets the kids on her side tactically, and lays the strategic groundwork for ruining their appetites. That keeps open the possibility that no matter how good Beatrice’s food might be, the kids will seem not to like it because they’ve gorged on sweets. Delmar can exploit that opening to get in some important digs on Beatrice’s cuisine and parenting all at once. Let’s see how this plays out.

Bob: Here come Beatrice and Jared together now, inviting everyone into the dining room. The Johnsons take position near the door to the kitchen, at the head and down the right side of the table, with the Delmars at the far end near the hallway toward the bathroom. Down the left side of the table are assorted other cousins of different ages. The dozen or so people jostle around to find their places, and in the midst of the commotion, Delmar loudly critiques the tableware and color scheme.

Greg: That’s the real opening salvo of the evening. Delmar picked an inviting target. She pretended to admire Beatrice’s taste while actually highlighting that the colors are much more suitable to spring than to winter.

Bob: What a defensive play! Beatrice retorts that the children chose and set out the décor especially with their grandmother in mind, and yes, isn’t it bright and attractive? What a great play!

Greg: It’s a move right out of Delmar’s own playbook, when she was a rookie Johnson herself, hosting the family dinner back in 1975. She must be gobsmacked to have her own move used on her so well.

Bob: OK, it looks like the family is going to say grace. We’ll break here for a word from our sponsors.

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Written by Thag

December 28, 2011 at 12:30 am

2 Responses

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  1. What a wonderful post. You have an excellent eye for writing.

    I wanted to share this resource with writers everywhere. This really helped me out.

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    December 28, 2011 at 5:35 am

  2. Brilliant! Most holiday get-togethers are not that dissimilar to any high-impact professional sport. I have a miserable head cold and you got me to smile. That’s saying something!

    Lorna's Voice

    December 31, 2011 at 5:27 pm


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