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Turkey Day at the slots

Observer Viewpoint | Wednesday, November 9, 2005

I don’t know if I have ever received a more offensive e-mail in my life – and it was from my Uncle Mark about Thanksgiving.

“Please give me one vote per family of your honest desire for the meal – our house or an early Argosy buffet then back to our house,” he wrote. “If there is dissension in your family then the Mother of the house decides. If we have 7 yes’s, then we head to the casino. If there is one no, then we go the traditional route and the entire day is at our house.”

I thought it was a joke until several cousins, aunts, and uncles said they would be open to change.

Thanksgiving isn’t supposed to change. We play touch football, eat too much turkey and stuffing, watch the Lions and Cowboys and wake my dad up snoring in the third quarter. There are quarks like every family, but when it comes to holidays, the Gates’ (my mom’s side) Thanksgiving is like a Norman Rockwell painting.

Any thoughts of considering this farce were over once I did about five minutes of research on this Indiana riverboat casino. Eating at a buffet twice a day every day has taught me that mass-produced food just isn’t good as a rule, but some of the menu items were ridiculous. I know one of my favorite Thanksgiving sides, cheesy potato casserole with Rice Krispies on top, might be a little non-traditional, but I have serious reservations that Plymouth pilgrims shared Peel-n-Eat shrimp with Pocahontas. Argosy also offers “home made cranberry relish,” but I am still wondering whose home it come from.

Ambiance is another issue. I guess the adults’ and kids’ tables would not only be in separate rooms this year, but in one “six uniquely themed seating areas.” After dinner, we could watch football in the adjacent sports bar, but I think my dad would find difficulty napping on a barstool instead of a La-Z-Boy.

Possibilities of ditching my family, and the other weirdos that spend Thanksgiving at a casino, came to mind. I could drive to Lexington instead of Cincinnati to spend the holiday with my buddy working at HoneyBaked Ham – I’ll take some ham over fried chicken, which was on the casino menu, any day of the year. My roommates’ house was another option; I could meet up with the fam after dinner to gloat about gravy without giblet bits (also on the menu). I was also contemplating maxing out my credit card on a plane ticket to LA to see my sister who can’t come home.

But, above all, Thanksgiving is about family. So I threatened my family that I would be doing my best to blend in with the traditional Argosy Casino clientele by purchasing a Nascar T-shirt, wearing bleach blonde mullet wig under a John Deere trucker hat, and borrowing my brother-in-law’s Carhartt bibs he wears duck hunting. In addition to my themed ensemble, I’d chain-smoke Marlboros during the main course and Swisher Sweets with dessert.

Thank God my mom vetoed. I really didn’t want to endorse Jeff Gordon.