Journal entry, 4 Frimaire 225: Two weeks ago Minotaur announced he would be hosting “American Thanksgiving” at the compound (Thanksgiving is not normally celebrated in New Salem, thanks to the 1969 decree of Prime Minister Judah ben-Christian III, who proclaimed that New Salemites “really had nothing to be thankful for, when it comes down to it”). Messengers with invitations were sent out to the four quarters of New Salem by government-paid employees on government time.
Minotaur spent several days straight in what he calls the “nude wetbox” (a shower) deliberating on the seating arrangements. When he emerged–cold, starving, and about ten pounds lighter–he dictated the arrangement to Mr. Cornwall, to wit:
“The tables will be arranged in the shape of the Maginot Line. The tables should be glued end-to-end with a weak glue. On the west side of this line, guests will be seated on the ground in berets. On the east side, guests will be seated on velvet-covered thrones in traditional German garb. At my signal, the German-dressed guests will reach across the table and eat the food of the Frenchies before feasting on their own meals. A few guests in British garb will then come in with milking stools so the Frenchies can be seated. Near the end, guests in American garb (presumably cut-off jeans and concert T-shirts exposing bare midriffs) will be let in the front door and will be led to the dessert table.
“As far as who sits where, it doesn’t matter other than I don’t want that thing to happen where the person sitting on my right is left-handed. Also, the Widow Jameson should be seated at some distance from me so that it is less likely she reminds me that I still owe her for picking up my lunch tab.”
The fare served was traditional to the holiday or at least a shadow of it–buttered rolls, fresh trout, Indian corn, canned pumpkin from a paper dunce’s hat. Animals selected for slaughter were afforded a measure of due process. Various beasts from the yard were brought before a jury of seven humans. As in the American criminal justice system, the jury looked to two factors in determining which ones were to die: the color of the animal’s fur, and misconduct. The animals sentenced to death were Handy the ass, whose crime was reportedly speaking to his master; Tammerson Goatson, an oddly named duck who had tried to drink from the teat of a cow; and Frederica von Steuben, the cow who had not resisted the duck’s effort with enough vigor.
After the meal, guests surrounded a television to give thanks for American football, that singular, warlike sport involving hand-to-hand grappling, sprinting, secret plotting, and both aerial and ground assaults.