Choose Your Own Dinner With Grandma

Choose your own adventure with a Thanksgiving twist. Where will yours lead?
By Ben G. Cort

Ah, Thanksgiving dinner. The clatter of cutlery, the moans coming from your uncles as they try to stuff their fourth slice of pie down their gullets, the hungry look of the family dog as he watches you consume three entire birds in one sitting after he had to eat a small handful of dry kibble, and of course, the inquiring questions of your grandmother.

You had done your best throughout the meal to avoid the sweeping glare from her withered eyes, but when she crooned your name for the eighth time you forgot to pretend you couldn’t hear her over the family din, and she ensnared you from across the table. A novice mistake, you think, bitterly chewing your mouthful of stuffing. Normally, you don’t have to be so careful, because your cousin Marvin is such a loser and takes most of the grandmother ire off of your back. But that asshole couldn’t even show up for Thanksgiving dinner this year to save your skin. Classic Marvin. Never does anything right.

Grandma smiles wide, knowing her prey is within her grasp with nowhere to run. “So how’s school going, dear?” God, you think, why couldn’t I have a kindly old grandma like everyone else? This one baked you cookies once, but they tasted like rat poison and glued your mouth shut for an entire week.

To lie, go to A.

To answer honestly, go to B.

To deflect the question, go to C.


“Gosh, Grandma!” You wax bullshit. After all, you’ve been the favorite for years. She’ll buy anything you sell her. “Where to begin? I’m totally not failing any of my classes, and I have tons of friends. Cool hip friends, you know? I go to the gym every day, and I’m part of so many exclusive social clubs on campus that I have to make a spreadsheet just to know where to go on a Friday night.”

“Sounds lovely, dear,” your grandmother cackles. “And do you have someone special in your life?”

If you totally are dating someone who’s definitely real, go to D.

If dating is beneath you, go to E.


“Not great, Grandma,” you shrug. Her eyes widen. “I mean, not bad either. I work out like, all the time,” you quickly add. She doesn’t buy it. “OK, I use the showers at the gym sometimes. I haven’t failed yet though. So that’s...probably coming down the pipe.”

Grandmother makes that tut-tut noise that you assume they teach you when your children have succeeded in procreating. “That’s a shame dear. At least you have...well, you have someone special in your life, I imagine? I hope your not wasting those genes I gave you.”

If you totally are dating someone who’s definitely real, go to D.

If dating is beneath you, go to E.


“Sorry, what was that? Did you say what crazy nonsense has Marvin done this year? I mean, sure, I’m failing math.” Oh wait, you are failing math! Backtrack! “I’m...hailing cabs. All kinds of cabs. Because I’m going so many places. But Marvin’s probably, uh…” You turns to the table for help. “What’s Marvin up to these days?”

Continue on to G.


“Oh yeah, I’ve got a great squeeze,” you say, trying to put your imaginary significant other in terms she might understand. “We’ve been going out for months. Real close.”

“Hmm,” she taps her bony talons on the table. “And when will I be seeing some great grandchildren? I’m not getting any younger, you know.”

You swallow hard. You’ve come this far on the strength of your imagination, you can go the distance. “Sure, we’re definitely talking about it. Obviously, we’ve stayed chaste. We’ve held hands maybe once, tops. But poppin’ out a few kids is so on the agenda.”

“And what’s their name, dear?”

“Uh,” you mumble. “Well their name is. Well you know, how names, how they go.” Damn it brain! Think of a name! Any name! Why don’t you know any names anymore? “Geraldino,” you offer confidently. Grandmother arches a single, balding eyebrow. “Geraldino...Smith. Geraldino Smith. Yeah, that’s who I’m...getting...serious with.” Did she buy it? You break out into a cold sweat. Grandmother just stares back at you, her dead eyes piercing your soul.

To break under the pressure, go to F.


“Grandma, please,” you verbally strut. “Dating is so last generation, you know? I’m focusing on me right now. Like what Netflix shows do I like to binge watch, and how many scalpals can I eat alone at the Kong on a Saturday night?” Woah, buddy, slow down there. This is getting too real.

“So um, yeah. Who needs love, right? Haha, not me that’s for sure.” You wipe a bead of cold sweat from your brow. “I mean, obviously I could get some. I could get lots! Of...hugs. That leave plenty of room for Jesus.” Good work, you sure saved that one. “We’ve established that I’ve been to a gym, so you know I’ve got it...going on.”

To break under the pressure, go to F.

To deflect the attention, go to C.


“Alright fine!” Your voice pierces the family chatter, and all eyes in the room fall on you. “I’ve got nothing, OK? Is that what you want to hear?” Everyone is perfectly still, except Grandma, who nods slowly. “I can’t get above a C, and yes, I know the average grade is an A-. I’ve read the same articles you have. And the best social space I’ve been to in the last month is the freshman dining hall!”

“But come on people,” you implore the crowd, “at least I’m not Marvin right? Remember when he crashed Aunt Alice’s car? Or when he killed our middle school gerbil? Or when he threw up all over the table last Thanksgiving?” They murmur and nod amongst themselves. It had been the talk of the family for weeks. “And he’s not even going to college after the incident last year. So I’m doing badly, but not that badly! He didn’t even show up tonight.” You feel them start to come over to your side. You can do this! Grandma has no power here!

Continue on to G.


“Hey guys, so sorry I’m late.” Marvin swoops into the room, and you audibly gasp. He’s wearing what looks like a tailored suit and seems to have cut off his man bun and replaced it with literally any other hairstyle. He kisses a few stunned cheeks and then sits down next to Grandma. “We had a little accident in the car on the way over. And it’s a company car, so I wanted to make sure everything was OK. Though who am I kidding,” he leans into the table. “With my paycheck I could buy all the damn cars anyway.”

Company car? Paycheck? Wait, “we?” You are in awe.

“Oh, here they are!” Marvin says brightly, ignoring you. A beautiful looking woman enters the dining room, ushering four identically dressed small children before her. “Have you all met my wife Tanya? And our kids, Bill, Bob, Rob and Todd.”

“Great grandchildren?” Grandma croons. “What a pleasant surprise from my favorite grandson.” No! That used to be you! Dammit Marvin!

“Yeah, Tanya and I met at the tech company I’m running these days. Turns out that my rebellious spirit was just a cover for my brilliant mind after all. What are you going to do?” You and Marvin lock eyes across the table. You son of a bitch, you think hard at his cocky smile. But he just turns to grandmother and schmoozes. “But enough about my rampant success. How are you doing, Grandma?”

You silently finish your stuffing.

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