Front Office Fiction - Happy Thanksgiving Day!


He didn't want to get out of bed. The alarm clock had gone off twenty minutes ago, and he had pulled a pillow over his head to drown out its incessant bleating call to yet another day's beginning. His wife had turned off the alarm, then shook him while mumbling something he didn't quite hear as he pressed the pillow hard against his ears. He felt her get out of bed, and moments later the smell of brewing coffee wafted into the bedroom. With a muffled groan, he threw the pillow across the room and sat up in bed. Billy Devaney, general manager of the St. Louis Rams, moved to the edge of the bed and stared at the master bathroom.

Just as he decided to call in sick to work, and a job he used to love, the sound of his wife's scream sent a chill down his spine. Still wearing his Atlanta Falcons pajamas, he bolted for the bedroom door and ran the short distance to the kitchen. His wife stood in front of the TV mounted on the kitchen wall. She was laughing as she shook her head. When she saw Billy standing in the kitchen with a confused look on his face, she began laughing so hard the thought of her possibly peeing her pants entered her mind. She ran for the guest bathroom, hunched over slightly and holding her crotch. As she moved passed by her husband of many years, all she could manage to say was "Oh my God Billy! You are so screwed...", then pointed at the TV with her unused hand...

...Billy watched his wife disappear into the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind her. Puzzled, he walked to the coffee pot and had just begun pouring himself a cup of coffee, when he heard a familiar voice coming from the TV...

Realization hit him in a tsunami like rush; the coffee pot and the cup he held went crashing to the kitchen floor as he cringed. With one eye open, he turned to the TV and moaned , "Oh my God... No!". Then he glared down the hallway in the direction of the bathroom and the sound of hysterical laughter coming from behind closed the door. Turning back to the TV, he felt his lower lip start to quiver and his left eye begin to twitch as the host of the morning show smiled for her audience...

"Welcome back to the Today Show. All week we've had guests from NFL teams from around the country. This morning, we have members of the St. Louis Rams here with us and they're going to be showing us how to cook a scrumptious Thanksgiving Day meal," Co-host Anne Curry said, then turned to her guests and began introducing them. "Please give a warm Today Show welcome to Sam Bradford, Chris Long (the camera panned to each of the smiling players) and Rams spokesperson Derinda Platt." As Anne walked to greet each of her guests, along with co-host Matt Lauer and the ever jubilant Al Roker, the studio audience clapped as they went to a short commercial break. A thousand plus miles away in the kitchen of a modest Missouri MC-mansion, Billy Devaney staggered to the now ringing phone on the kitchen table and slumped into a chair. The caller ID said it was Steve Spagnuolo - the Rams head coach and Billy's long time friend - calling.

"What!" Billy barked into the phone.

"Billy, I just threw up my waffles... Derinda is on the Today Show... How the hell did she...?" He glared at his wife, who between laughing fits was asking to talk to Billy's wife. "...and how did Sam and Chris get permission to leave town? They're supposed to be at practice in 45 minutes?"

"I have no idea Steve... Not one damn clue what's going on... I was going to call in sick today, but that's out now. Look, the show's back on. Call me when it's over." He closed the phone without saying goodbye and tossed the phone over his shoulder. It bounced off the wall and landed in the dog's water bowl just inside the kitchens French doors.

Matt Lauer beamed at the the players like any red blooded American football fan. Anne Curry stood next to Derinda and Al Roker in the studio kitchen area. Anne took the lead in as the audience's clapping slowly died away. "We're back with our St. Louis Rams friends. Derinda, give us your best recipe for cooking a great Turkey dinner."

Sam Bradford and Chris Long had been talking quietly to Matt, but suddenly stopped at Anne's comment about Derinda cooking. Sam leaned over the small kitchen counter, "Um, did you say Derinda is cooking something? Here? Now?... Do these stove burners actually work?" He glanced warily at the gas stove top, then over at Chris Long, whose eyes were now wide open with a touch of fear evident in them. When Anne nodded "yes" that the gas burners did in fact work, both Sam and Chris's mouths dropped open as they each began shaking their heads slowly. They began backing away from the counter. Sam grabbed Lauer by the sleeve and began urgently whispering something to him as he pulled Matt back from the counter. Lauer's eyes went wide, and said, "Really? You're kidding, right?" When both professional football players shook their heads, Matt turned and began walking quickly toward the seating area just off camera. Bradford and Long gave Derinda plaintive smiles, then followed Matt out of the immediate danger zone.

Anne and Roker didn't notice the three men leave. They were making small talk with Derinda as they began gathering ingredients for the Thanksgiving Day feast they were about to prepare for 30 million TV viewers.

"So tell us what you're making," Anne said to her guest.

"Well, let's start with a big 'ol bird shall we?" Derinda gave the uncooked turkey on the counter a hard slap. "The first thing I like to do is make sure this big hen bird is healthy... Not that in can be all that healthy since it's dead... It better be, right!" She gave Al's shoulder a quick, friendly slug, "I mean if this bird starts to gobble-gobble, I'm gonna crap my pants..." She started chuckling at her little joke as Anne and Al exchanged worried glances. Derinda grabbed each of the turkey's legs, and spread them wide as she peered into gutted bird. "Every time I do this, I feel like a gynecologist..." Derinda spun the gaping maw of the turkey around toward the audience. Grabbing the legs again, she pulled them as wide apart as possible, "Now ladies, any of you look like this down there... Well hell, if you look like this you're either dead, or you've had about  40 kids!" Her shoulder were shaking as she laughed. She turned her head alternately to Anne and Al. They had wide eyed, open mouthed looks on their faces.The audience was laughing, but the backstage producers were scrambling around whispering to each other.

Derinda let go of the turkey's legs and grabbed the wings. She stood the turkey up like a fat skinned puppet and began walking it across the kitchen counter toward Al. "Come on Al, give us a kiss!" Al backed away as he politely laughed. When he saw he was out of camera shot, he fled to the seating area to join the now cowering men.

She walked the bird back across the counter toward Anne, then stopped, giving the turkey a mighty upward swing and let it fly up about two feet in the air before releasing it. It landed back where it had begun the cooking segment with a loud SPLAT as it hit the counter top. "Now that we know it's dead," Derinda wondered why there was a look of shock on Anne's face. "We're going to seal the bird before cooking with some olive oil." She took the bottle of extra virgin oil off the counter and began sprinkling the bird - and the entire area around the bird - with the oil. "Anne, how can anything be "Extra" virgin? I'm mean, if we were talking about a woman who's extra virgin, would her breasts be 'Extra" breasty?" Derinda looked out at the audience with a thoughtful expression as though she'd posed a philosophical dilemma to inspire debate at universities and 'think-tanks" everywhere.

Anne, who had begun quietly laughing, finally saw one of the behind the camera producers waving at her that they were going to cut to commercial. "We'll be right back after a few words from our sponsor." The off stage crew came onto the stage to adjust the make-up of the show's stars.

The show's executive producer, Jim Bell, came on the set. Curry and Lauer met with him, and began explaining that the show was funny and should continue. Bell relented grudgingly. He then tried to convince Lauer to return to the stage with his new football buddies and Roker. Matt winked at Curry, but shook his head before saying he and the others would remain at a safe distance. The 10 second warning for the commercial breaks end flashed, and Curry watched as her co-host fled back across the set to where Bradford and Long were telling Roker a few Derinda stories. Roker was laughing as Lauer sat down, a little pissed he'd missed the tales of this curious woman that somehow had made it onto one of the most popular and longest running TV shows in history.

Anne resumed her position next to Derinda. "We're only going to have time for the turkey segment, but maybe we can have you back next year to show us the rest of your Thanksgiving Day menu?"

"Really?" Derinda felt like she wanted to cry. She had no idea how to cook a turkey, let alone the rest of a Holiday meal. When the Today Show had asked for the St. Louis Rams to send some people for a cooking segment, she had assumed it was to WATCH the segment and then eat what was cooked. Those dumb-ass players, Sam and Chris, had thought the same thing. Now she had to figure out what else to do to get out of the mess she was in and not poison whoever did get to eat whatever God awful creation she wound up taking out of the oven.

"Sure! The audience loves you. I'm not sure why the guys over there won't come near the kitchen set though?" Anne studied her guest for a moment.

Derinda had stuck her lower lip out as she shrugged a similar curiosity. She would chew them out for being wimps on the flight home. Sam, Chris, Al, and Matt were all smiling and waving at her from the seating area. She flipped them off just as Anne said - "And we're back to see what kind of bird Derinda is going to give us today..."

*********************************

Back in St. Louis, Billy sat with his head down on the kitchen table. His laughing wife had just run from the room for the third time in the last half hour when she saw Derinda giving someone off camera the middle finger on national television. He got up from the table, turned the TV off, and walked slowly back to his bedroom so he could get showered and dressed for the day. Billy knew he needed to be in the office when the people on the Today Show ate the turkey Derinda was cooking and began to throw up. Derinda was the worst cook he had ever known. Just as he was closing the bathroom door, he heard his wife scream: "She just set the studio kitchen on fire!", then dissolved into laughter once again. Billy groaned, then shut the door...

Happy Thanksgiving from everyone here at Turf Show Times!

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