The holidays are fast approaching, and at this time of year, I can’t seem to manage more than a short story or two over the course of a week. I imagine it’s the same for you, so I’m departing from the usual format until after the holidays. I’ve written a synopsis of a well-loved short story this week, and included a podcast if you’d care to listen to it.
Dave Cooks the Turkey, Stuart McLean
Viking Canada, 32 pages
Every Saturday morning, our national radio station airs a program called “The Vinyl Cafe.” Dave works at the smallest record store in the world, and lives in Toronto with his wife Morley and their two children, Stephanie and Sam. The Vinyl Cafe has been telling the stories of Dave’s family, neighbours, and friends since 1994, and its creator, Stuart McLean, has published many of the stories in both print and audio formats. My favourite is Dave Cooks the Turkey.
Morley is exhausted. She’s joined a neighbourhood Christmas group that spends its time making rubber stamps out of erasers and gilding oak leaves for handcrafted wreaths. By the time that October rolls around, she can’t even begin to contemplate the daunting task of preparing Christmas dinner, so she asks Dave to cook the turkey for her. He agrees, and then immediately forgets about it. Morley reminds him, on Christmas Eve, to take the turkey out of the freezer to thaw, and as Dave remembers the conversation, it suddenly occurs to him that he was also supposed to buy the turkey. He leaps out of bed, rushes around Toronto in the middle of the night, and eventually manages to find a beaten-up, grade B bird at a sketchy convenience store. But Dave’s not out of the clear yet. After Morley and the kids leave the house to work at the soup kitchen for a few hours, Dave discovers that he can’t figure out how to turn on the stove. In an escapade that involves a hairdryer, a hotel, and a bottle of scotch, Dave somehow manages to deliver on his promise.
If you’d like to listen to the story, it’s available from the CBC here. McLean reads a listener’s story first, so Dave Cooks the Turkey begins about six minutes into the podcast.