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Editor survives ‘look’; guests survive turkey dinner

My wife occasionally brandishes a weapon that usually slows my march toward calamity: I call it the “look.”

When I do something bad, I get the look. When I suggest something stupid, I get the look. When I write a column that’s sure to get me in trouble, I get the look.

These days, I’ve been hearing the look.



Barbara, as many of you know, is 3,000 miles away in North Carolina, but her look flashes through the telephone line like a bullet through a gun barrel.

My daughter, Alaina, and I are keenly attuned to the exact audio frequencies of the look. It’s akin to a coyote perking up its ears at some barely discernible sound. He’s hearing his mother’s look, and she’s not happy.



That’s how Alaina and I feel. We hear the look almost before it registers on Barbara’s face. Remember the silly expressions Harpo Marx created in those fabulous Marx Brothers movies? Turn Harpo’s faces upside down, and you’ve got Barbara’s “look.”

In an e-mail to me on Thursday, Barbara explained the look from her perspective:

“The ‘look’ is very simply a response to a thought, action or anticipated behavior that will result in:

“1.) heartache;

“2.) serious embarrassment; or

“3.) extreme sense of stupidity.

“In other words, it merely conveys the natural response of, ‘You should know better than that!’ “

Ha! Ha! Isn’t she a hoot!?

I heard the look just last week during a phone conversation.

“Hey, Barb: Guess what I’m gonna do?” I asked.

“Whaaaaaat?” (Hear the look?)

“I’m having some workmates over for Thanksgiving, and I’m cooking my first turkey.”

“Hmmm. Do you think that’s a good idea – the baking the turkey part, I mean?”

“You don’t trust me, do you?”

“It’s not that.” (Yes, it is). “It’s just, well, wouldn’t it be easier to order an already-cooked, smoked turkey or buy the whole meal at a store?”

“I’m cooking the darn turkey …”

I glanced at the frozen bird in my sink: It was giving me the look, too.

But to be fair, I understood Barbara’s trepidation.

Talk about a recipe for disaster: a novice wrestling an 18-pound turkey that six of his co-workers and several others would closely scrutinize on the Big Night (which actually was on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, since most of us worked the Big Day itself).

So I did what any sensible, ham-handed man would do: I employed the services of several Tribune turkey experts. They sat in my office, nodding sympathetically, mom looks on their faces, as I said these words: “I’m gonna BLOW it!”

“No, no,” one said. “You’ll be fine. Here’s what we’ll do …”

One of them even volunteered to visit my house early on Saturday to help prepare the turkey and get it in the oven. I made the marinade, a sparkling raspberry wine/honey concoction that burned on the turkey’s skin in the first half-hour in the oven.

I’d warned my workmates when I announced the Thanksgiving shindig that botulism could await them. They came anyway, delicious side dishes in their hands (just in case the turkey exploded from sheer spite).

We ended up gobbling the night away, wine, champagne and other libations easing everyone’s slowly strengthening … STOMACH CRAMPS!

Just kiddin’.

Happy holidays, everyone.

– Paul Dunn is editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. He can be reached at (530) 542-8047 and pdunn@tahoedailytribune.com.


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