The question I posed over the phone to a relative was innocent enough: "Who are you voting for?"
"Trump," she replied, after a short pause. Perhaps the hesitancy stemmed from the fact that I didn't actually phrase the question as stated above. I believe my word-for-word query was, "I can't believe this psycho billionaire nutjob hasn't conceded. So, who are YOU voting for?"
Knowing her answer did not sit well with me, she gamely tried to change the subject. "Want to talk about Thanksgiving? Whose turn is it to host? Yours or mine?"
Ah, yes. Lost amid the mudslinging that has become Election 2016 is the perilous realization that, just 16 days after choosing our next president, Americans will gather around dining room tables, consume too much food accompanied by too much wine, and discuss current events.
Thanksgiving Day hosts, are you prepared? No, are you REALLY prepared? Will your table setting include a cellphone next to your water glass, with the local police on speed dial? Have you hired a security guard and stationed him nearby (the kids' table perhaps?) in case fisticuffs erupt? Have you considered serving the meal at 8 a.m. and sending everybody home before the first football game gets underway? Please, I'm begging you, incorporate at least one of these options into your holiday gathering.
Sure, you think, past family political discussions over turkey, dressing and chardonnay from a cardboard box have occurred without incident. True, things got a little heated in 2008 after Aunt Emily, while smacking sweet potatoes in her dentures, referred to newly elected Barack Obama as that "foreigner President." But cooler heads prevailed by the time pumpkin pie was served.
Sure, you think, this election will be in the country's rear view mirror by November 24 and things will return to normal, no matter who wins. But, to paraphrase a TV analyst who is talking as I write this column, this election's outcome won't signal the end of the ballgame in terms of verbal political vitriol. It's only the first inning. In other words, old wounds will take a long time to heal.
Should Clinton win, are you prepared to seat your gloating college-aged niece, a staunch Hillary backer, next to a brother-in-law still regularly refreshing The Drudge Report on his iPhone? Are you confident your pro-Trump father won't end his traditional Thanksgiving prayer with, "And please, God, lock her up. Amen."
And what if Trump wins? An innocent discussion about Christmas movie releases may now include your grandfather, in full earshot of his grandkids, calling Kate Winslet a "hot piece of ass." It's just locker room talk after all; our incoming chief executive says so.
That hummus dip appetizer everybody raved about last year? An emboldened second cousin and fervent Trump supporter will now belittle you for serving something so "Muslim-based." May as well keep the Mexican salsa in the cupboard too. How dare you trot out something that hails from a country crawling with criminals, drug dealers and rapists?
For the sake of the USA, I move we cancel Thanksgiving '16. History books can refer to it as a "cooling off" year. Retail chains such as Nordstrom, Home Depot and Staples? Please reconsider your decision to remain closed on Thanksgiving Day. Instead, throw open your doors at 7 a.m. Offer an additional 20 percent savings to customers willing to permanently part with their "Trump that Bitch!" T-shirts. Consider in-store contests. If a Trump supporter and a Clinton backer can hold hands as they shop, and warmly embrace at the check-out line, all their purchases are half price. Nothing heals a country like the power of retail.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, you've scheduled three football games. That's not enough. Send an email now to all 32 teams; the first sentence should read, "EVERYBODY plays on November 24. America needs you!"
Turkey Day is just six weeks away. Hosts, plan accordingly to avoid becoming your family's biggest turkey. And if you plan on altering the traditional meal, please do not serve Trump steaks.