There was something unbelievable about the stuffing my grandmother made every Thanksgiving. It wasn’t just good – it was beyond amazing. Every morsel of meat and bread and vegetable was flavored to perfection. The meticulousness and love involved in the preparation process shone through with every bite. We’d eat until we were stuffed (pun intended) and still felt great afterward. Hell, we even felt invigorated, which was the last thing one would expect after Thanksgiving dinner.
Our family had been trying to get her to tell us the recipe for years. She wouldn’t even give us a hint.
I’m chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s personal espresso maker and latte-foam artist. Yes, that’s a real job. With benefits, in fact. Great health and dental.
One of the perks of my occupation, aside from hanging out with GZ and getting to eat many of my weekly meals at his outstanding restaurant, The Lamb’s Club, is the access I enjoy at The Food Network’s studios and associated properties.
GZ is a pretty big deal over there, which I’m sure you know if you’ve watched the network for more than a few hours. Aside from Chopped!, which is his best-known show, he’s building a new audience with the Saturday morning feature, The Kitchen. His personality fits so well with whatever he’s in, though, and it’s just great to be a part of it.
I’m totally fanboying right now. Sorry. I hope that doesn’t sound disrespectful in the face of what happened.
Over the last few years, they had removed nine toes, 12 teeth, one finger, and three feet of my large intestine. There are no scars. They leave no other evidence. They take what they want and leave me with less and less each time. Every visit diminishes me.
People can’t see them. Dogs can, though. Cats, too. Maybe birds. They’ll howl or hiss or fly away, but that won’t deter the visit. From what I’ve learned, nothing will.
My right thumb was taken four days ago. I was walking to the supermarket when I felt the telltale prickles of static electricity cascading down the back of my head and neck. Pigeons in the area began to screech. The sense of weightlessness I’d grown to know and dread swept over me, and as I was lifted into the clear sky, I saw my replacement continue his walk. He always continues exactly where I’d left off.
The overly-wide, grinning mouth is a horror cliche. It’s a trope, albeit a successful one, that’s wormed its way into scary stories from around the world. So ubiquitous is its inclusion that it’s taken on a legendary status; it feels like something that’s always been around to scare people. Right?
In 1844, one of the first serial killers in Connecticut began a rampage. Little was known about the killer, save for their signature technique of disfiguration. While the victims were alive, they amputated their cheeks. When the bodies were eventually found, their toothy, skeletal smiles became fodder for nightmares, rumors, and legends. The killer was never captured.
Starting in 2012, local Connecticut message boards and forums started to feature messages and questions about ghosts.
Everyone’s heard of the so-called “Suicide Forest” in Japan, but hardly anyone’s familiar with the locally-named “Suicide Woods” in Fairfield, CT. It’s probably a good thing, too; the deaths are disturbing not only by their nature, but because there have been so many of them over the years.
Growing up, I heard scary stories about the woods behind Lake Mohegan. We all did. Rumors of devil-worshipping cults ran like wildfire through every school hallway and cafeteria. Some kid said he was fishing back there with his uncle when they discovered a dead goat by a rock face with its guts arranged in a pentagram. Another kid talked about bloodsucking demons in the trees. Our parents were always quick to dispel the more ridiculous rumors, but they couldn’t deny the suicides. The suicides were facts of life in our town.
My therapist suggested I write this out. I guess reliving that night and putting my experiences on paper will help me get over the trauma.
A few years ago, I was in a motorcycle wreck. Broke my left tibia and fibula, shattered my right patella, got a greenstick fracture of my left femur, multiple fractures in my pelvis, breaks in almost all my ribs, and two broken collarbones. I was immobilized from the shoulders down by a heavy body cast. They told me I was lucky.
My wife, Violet, was supportive and nurturing. She never once complained about having to care for me. She cooked all my meals, kept me company, and emptied my bedpan without grimacing. About two weeks into my convalescence, Jenna called us, bawling, because her college roommate died. Vi had to leave immediately and be there for her. Vi’s sister, Kathy, was going to take care of me.
When I woke up the following morning, Vi was off to get Jenna. Kathy was there, cheerfully making breakfast and talking up a storm as she helped me with my more embarrassing biological needs. Like her sister, she never made me feel ashamed. She left around 11 that night and told me she’d be back at dawn.
When I was in college, I dated a biologist named Maria. Well, a biology undergraduate. She was a lot of fun, albeit slightly odd. Being a bit odd myself, we hit it off right away. Our first date lasted almost 12 hours – the entirety of which was spent talking as we sipped terrible coffee in a 24-hour diner.
Maria told me she wanted to focus on entomology after undergrad, then started to regale me with passionate stories about the local banana slug.
I was familiar with the banana slug. Everyone on campus was. They have an unfortunate habit of falling out of trees and landing on the heads of unsuspecting students and faculty. Being around 8” long and remarkably disgusting, having one plop on one’s head is pretty close to a living nightmare. My first month on campus, one missed me by inches and splattered on the concrete. I was picking slug out from between my shoelaces for a week.