Mike Gruss Archive
Well, this is it.
My last column for The Pilot. Unfortunately, there's still plenty we haven't covered. So keep up. To twist a Willy Wonka saying, "So little time. So little to see."
Almost 10 years ago, I moved to a Ghent apartment with a 6-month-old Honda Civic and a few years of newspaper experience. Shortly thereafter, the car was flooded.
Let's say you're hoping to get into the holiday spirit.
And let's say you plan to do so by looking at Christmas lights.
I'm driving the car.
Stop, my wife says.
I look out the window for some kind of disorderly traffic and then I see... them.
Christmas carolers. They're handing out fliers inviting passers-by to join in.
And this is the conundrum:
Do I stop? Do I keep going? Do I act as though it would be impossible to pull over?
Do I do the unthinkable? Do I get out and, gulp, sing?
Perhaps you're dreaming of a white Christmas. You know, just like the ones you used to know.
That can be difficult, with the changes in the Earth's atmosphere and climate and your own decision to choose this location of latitude and longitude to celebrate the holidays.
Want to experience a genuine Christmas? Like the kind you used to know?
It is called the Christmas Depot. And maybe you want to stop reading now because everything in this column is going to sound cheesy, as though it's straight from a Hallmark movie starring Tim Allen. Everything that follows will sound sappy and saccharine and - here's the important part - true.
But if Christmas can't bring out those emotions, then what can?
THE MIKE GRUSS INTEREST METER
Interest in joining - or even watching - next season's "Dancing With the Stars" Lower than seeing Gabby Douglas and the other Fierce Five gymnasts, who said earlier in the week they'd like to be on the show
Face it. Thanksgiving is a test. An annual ritual to see whether, for just one meal a year, everything can go absolutely perfectly. The dinner is a series of interchanging, ever-improving parts in a quest for inordinate deliciousness. The sweet potatoes with the marshmallows on top? No need to tinker. The cranberries? Untouchable. Year after year, they're not going to change.
The building itself is easy to miss, which could be a blessing, depending on the situation. Hidden on Chesapeake's Executive Boulevard and stashed behind an oxygen-tank storefront, the structure is covered in beige, nondescript siding. The sign, just above the door, is small, no more than a foot high, easy to cover up or take down. Inside are the goods.
Everyone at Nicole Papillion's house is aware of the Thanksgiving routine. Prayer begins at 1:59 p.m. Plates fill up a minute later. Nicole started preparing dinner last Friday for the feast in Suffolk. In addition to the turkey (which started brining Tuesday), she serves collard greens, ham, cornbread dressing, mac and cheese, rolls, cheesecakes and pie.
I am a rules person.
And my No. 1 rule of journalism is: Do not write about animals.
But you, the good people of the commonwealth of Virginia, have left me no choice.
Because of a cat. Hank the Cat.
Don't shrug. Don't go hide under the bed. Don't dart off to the closet.
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