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(CHICAGO TRIBUNE)
(CHICAGO TRIBUNE)

Road Sage

Don't hit the road after gobbling too much turkey Add to ...

We're a nation of pigs. Admit it. There isn't an animal, vegetable or mineral we won't eat. You can process a mixture of pigeon and rat and, as long as you craft it into a patty, add a processed cheese slice and throw it inside an English muffin, we'll consume it.

This reality is never illustrated more clearly than on Thanksgiving, a holiday that has no religious or state meaning. We're not celebrating a divine intervention and we're not glorifying a great military triumph. It ain't Christmas. It ain't Remembrance Day.

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Nope.

We're celebrating the mouth/belly connection. Thanksgiving is about showing your gratitude for everything that God has given us by seeing how much of that stuff we can shove in our faces. That's it.

At least the Yanks have an insane fable dating back to 1621 featuring Pilgrims and Indians and scarcity (of which there wasn't any until the Pilgrims showed up). We Canucks don't cloud the issue. We keep it simple. We have food. We give thanks by eating that food, taking a break to watch football and then eating more food.

Then we get in our cars and drive home. In this ever-trembling world, shouldn't such wanton activity be a cause for concern? Shouldn't there be a Royal Commission?

Alcohol and cars can be a deadly combination. No question. The jury is out on cannabis. Pot-heads think THC cures all illness, has no side effects and endows anyone who smokes it with the motoring skills of a NASCAR racer. Everyone else thinks you shouldn't get high and drive.

But what about operating a vehicle while under the influence of Thanksgiving? Who isn't impaired when he has a belly full of tryptophan (the amino acid found in turkey) which some scientists believe has soporific effects? What about the motoring dangers of gluttony? It's a sin after all. Aren't I unfit to drive after devouring two turkey drum sticks, innumerable breasts, ham, squash, mashed potatoes, more squash, stuffing, leeks, antipasto, a litre of gravy and cranberry sauce, followed by ice cream and pumpkin pie? I'm in a virtual food coma but because I've been sipping San Pellegrino the entire meal the law thinks I'm good to go?

We normally consider New Year's Eve our most dangerous holiday because of the enormous alcohol consumption and optical hazards caused by popping corks. Revellers celebrate the end of one disappointing year and the start of another soon-to-be disappointing year by getting hammered and kissing strangers. The police are out in force checking for drunk drivers.

Perhaps there should be similar measures for Thanksgiving?

  • In the future cars could be fitted with "beltalizers" - driver's side seatbelts that measure a motorist's waist. If driver's girth has expanded by more than one belt size during the course of a meal, the beltalizer would turn the ignition off.
  • Police can set up road blocks but instead of asking suspects to "walk a straight line" turkey-bloated drivers would simply be asked to "walk."
  • Each family could elect a "designated dieter." This person would be allowed to consume only guarana-infused fruit and espressos.

Those driving back long distances from visits with relatives can take solace in the fact that their food-induced sluggishness will be matched by the pace of holiday traffic. Thanksgiving highway crawls are the worst. We're talking the kind of bumper-to-bumper, 10 hours to drive 450 kilometres grind that makes you start to wonder if you've died and are somehow stuck in purgatory. (Note: For me, purgatory is a best case scenario. If I think I'm in heaven, then it's obviously a cruel joke that means I'm really in hell).

I watched the movie The Road the other day; it's the post-apocalyptic tale of a man and his son pushing a shopping cart down an old highway. The whole time, all I could think was, "Wow, look at those highways. Zero traffic. Famine, earthquake, fire, freezing cold and tribalistic cannibals aside, my Thanksgiving drive down the 401 would be like 55 minutes."

So, this Thanksgiving, as you're enjoying a good meal, give a thought to road safety. If you can't see your shoes when you look down, but you could before the cheese course was served, put your keys away. You've had too much. Be grateful. Seek out a couch, and, if the spirit moves you, just one more serving of gravy and stuffing.

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