Satanic Cranberry Sauce

It is a truth universally acknowledged that some people cannot help getting themselves into preposterous scrapes, no matter how hard they try to stay out of them. This is a true story, and is more or less a transcript, to the best of my memory, of what happened to me, in my real life, on Thursday last, November the 24th.

Thursday, day of giving thanks for the thin veneer of comfort that comes from being raised on historical B.S., dawns chilly and fair. I’m destined for thanksgiving dinner with my boyfriend’s family and I’m reminding myself not to talk about politics in a household where I will be out-numbered, and where the stress levels of everyone involved will already be running high.

In general, it should be noted, I get along with these people. They’re conservative and they’re Christian (where I am hella liberal, and not Christian), but they’re not exclusively hard-right  leaning. We disagree on many things, but we all agree (at the very least) on the disaster that is Trump. We have that much going for us.

Believe it or not, this is not a story about how Trump ruined Thanksgiving. This is a story about how Satan (and also me, his unwitting accomplice) almost ruined Thanksgiving.

I’m helping set the table before the guests arrive. I plop cranberry sauce out of its can and into a bowl, still in can shape, still standing upright. And, since there’s not much else to do, I doodle a little star on the top with a butter knife. There was nothing special about this star, it’s the same star we were all taught to draw in kindergarten or first grade. It’s a geometric shape with no meaning beyond the memory of whacky childhood drawings of dogs that look like ponies and ponies that look like dogs.

I put the cranberry sauce on the table and I forget all about it.

Later, all the guests have arrived, and we’re at the table. I’m at one end, as the spry and helpful server I have the most mobility this way, and a family friend is at the other end. He’s seated by the cranberry sauce. His family and my boyfriend’s family are seated all around him. I am standing alone, dolling out napkins or water or maybe just holding my position there like the queer, nervous scarecrow I am.

“So this is an interesting symbol to have drawn on the cranberry sauce,” the family friend says in a voice that’s not quite casual. We’re going to call him Fred.

I look up and meet his eyes, thus admitting guilt unintentionally. He’s already looking at me, so he must have suspected I was the culprit anyway.

“It’s a star,” I say.

“It’s a five-pointed star,” says Fred.

“I…yes?” I say,  utterly perplexed.

“It’s not the star of David,” says Fred.

“No?” I say.

“Why did you draw a pentagram in the cranberry sauce?”

I look at Fred. I think Fred is probably joking.

Fred doesn’t look like he’s joking.

I look around the table. Everyone is staring at me, silent, waiting, in utter seriousness, for me to explain why I have served them Satanic cranberry sauce.

“It’s just a geometric shape,” I try, beginning to feel as though I actually need to defend myself, and beginning to feel as though a real defense does not exist.

“It’s a five-pointed star,” Fred says again. “You could have drawn any kind of star, why this one? And it’s inside in a circle.”

“I didn’t draw a circle!” I protest.

“The cranberry sauce is a circle,” Fred explains patiently.

I…Yes. It is. But I didn’t make it that way, I am not responsible for the platonic form of the cranberry sauce. I didn’t create the base nature of all cranberry sauce thus making this one circular in shape.

I can’t very well say that though, I’m in a snag already, and if they didn’t believe that I had no satanic intentions when I drew that five-pointed star, they weren’t going to believe that I honestly had not noticed the cranberry sauce was a circle.

In a desperate attempt to extricate myself, and to alleviate the discomfort of all present, I open my big, know-it-all mouth, and I say:

“Technically, if it’s in a circle it’s a pentacle, not a pentagram.”

A much more uncomfortable moment of silence follows.

“What’s the difference?” Fred demands. Everyone is still staring. No one has ever been so attentive to my boring, pedantic ramblings on any subject I’ve ever rattled on about before. And my rattling on pedantically is a common enough occurrence.

I am thus interrogated into a long, breathless lecture on my imperfect knowledge of the oft misconceived history of the pentacle, the pentagram, the Wiccan religion, and the Satanic church. (For the reader alone, I did not, in the course of my sudden, impromptu history lesson, mention that the Satanic church does also use the shape of a pentacle, merely an inverted one, since there would be no way for Fred to determine if the pentacle I had inadvertently created was inverted or not. I left the pentacle safely within the realms of Wicca.) I kept the entire lecture as brief as I could, possibly for the first time in my life. But Fred had many questions. And other people at the table had questions. And there I stood, at the head (or the bottom) of the table, sweating my bisexual, democratic, feminist sweat, scrambling to remember everything I’d ever come across in my research on these four subjects.

I explain how usually the representations of the five points on the star are based on the five Aristotelian elements. And how the Wiccan religion, though drawing from various pagan and polytheistic traditions, was a relatively young, and much varying, religion. I won’t go into everything I went into here, because it was long and boring, and neither you, dear reader, nor anyone else I’m ever likely to meet with could possibly possess the same intense, laser interest exhibited by this particular group of people, at that particular time and place.

“Why do you know so much about these things?” Fred eventually asks as we’re winding down. His worries have been mostly put to rest by my frantic assurances of earthy practices used by many Wiccan’s, but a gleam of suspicion for my own motives remains.

“I’m a writer,” I stammer out. Which is the truth. And thankfully is the kind of answer that covers all manner of sins, and was enough to satisfy Fred.

Everyone at the table partook of the Cranberry sauce. I can only assume from this that I had successfully dispelled their thoughts of Satan.

That’s all for now. Peace out, fellow heretics.

 

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