You're new here. You don't know anyone. You have nowhere to go on Thanksgiving.
Maybe you're a new student at the University of Washington or Seattle University or Seattle Pacific University and you can't afford to go home. Maybe you're a new hire at Amazon and you can't swing rent, student loan payments, and airline tickets (we know you make a lot of money, but not that much). Maybe your parents decided, after hosting Thanksgiving for the last 24 years, that they'd had enough and canceled on you at the last minute. Maybe you've been here a while and are tired of Friendsgivings, and members of your family are the only people in Seattle who voted for Trump.
You could fish around for an invite. But being the "Thanksgiving orphan" at someone else's dinner party—being the turkey-day pity fuck—isn't any fun, either. And it's too late, anyway: Thanksgiving is practically here and everyone's guest lists are already finalized. You're screwed.
How do you avoid having a depressing, soul-crushing, nothing-to-be-thankful-for Thanksgiving? Now this may seem counterintuitive, but hear us out: Don't avoid it. Embrace it. Instead of having the worst Thanksgiving ever by accident, have the worst Thanksgiving ever by design. Be alone. Eat terrible food on purpose. Pound crap drinks in a shitty bar on purpose. Watch the worst movies on purpose.
Don't settle for a shitty Thanksgiving. Make this one an epically shitty Thanksgiving.
An epically depressing holiday—and I've had my fair share—has two major benefits. First, it sets a baseline. Whatever your subsequent Thanksgivings are like, whatever you're doing on the fourth Thursdays in all the Novembers in your future, they won't be worse than this one. Your Thanksgivings have nowhere to go but up if you make an effort.
Even better, you'll have a great story to tell at all those future Thanksgiving dinners. If you're going to be miserable this Thanksgiving, you might as well get an anecdote out of it. ("You know what I'm thankful for? I'm thankful it's not 2016, when I was alone on Thanksgiving in a new city. I had dinner alone at the worst place in town, got drunk in a dive bar, and then passed out in front of the TV in my empty apartment.")
You probably don't know all the worst things to do around here, and that's where we come in. You're new here or have been studiously avoiding awfulness, unlike us. We've been sucking around here long enough to know what really sucks around here. You'll find everything you need in this issue to create an epically shitty Thanksgiving. The shittiest places to eat (not just Thanksgiving dinner, but breakfast too), the shittiest bar to watch a football game in, the shittiest place to day drink, and the most depressing movie to watch at home (alone, of course). Have a crappy Thanksgiving. We mean it. —DAN SAVAGE
FIRST STOP, "BREAKFAST": WASHINGTON STATE FERRY
The first year I lived in Seattle, I wasn't in a good place with my family and wasn't going to go home to California to be with them. But I didn't know anyone here. I was renting a room in an apartment in the University District, and another person renting a room in that apartment had a sister on Bainbridge Island, and he invited me to go with him to Thanksgiving at her house. It seemed like a good plan. I was 18. I'd never ridden the ferry. It would be my first Thanksgiving on my own. There's nothing like feeling wanted, accepted, or at least invited to someone's house on Thanksgiving.
The ferry is stressful on holidays. Too many people, too few ferries. For reasons I can no longer remember, we got to the waterfront late and missed the ferry we wanted. My roommate's sister had "blood sugar" issues and had to eat at a certain time, and she had said that if we weren't on a particular ferry, we couldn't eat with them. When we arrived on Bainbridge, there was no sign of her. We tried calling her from a payphone—no luck. This was before cell phones. So, with an empty feeling in my gut (must have been the hunger), we got on the return ferry and just rode back to Seattle. Because I was starving, and because the ferry had a cafe, I thought I'd see what they had that I could eat. Turkey, maybe? Mashed potatoes? A turkey sandwich? Nope, nope, nope.
The only remotely Thanksgiving-like item they had was a pumpkin muffin.
I ate that pumpkin muffin slowly, very slowly, like it was a huge feast. I tried not to start crying. That muffin was my entire Thanksgiving. When I started crying despite myself, I went out onto the deck and let the wind fill my face so it looked that was what was causing my eyes to leak uncontrollably, and not my alienation and sadness. Nice views out there on the ferry. But the muffin was terrible. —CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
IT'S NEVER TOO EARLY TO START DRINKING ON THANKSGIVING: BARANOF
The Baranof is kind of like the Swiss Army knife of gritty dive bars. It has everything you could possibly need: dirt-cheap Rainiers and freakishly strong Jell-O shots, greasy hangover hash browns, grumpy bartenders, leering older men, and dust-caked nautical-western decor.
It's the perfect place to feel alone, even if you're surrounded by other barflies. So slump yourself into one of the Baranof's booths and commit—this is your Worst Thanksgiving Ever. Accept it.
This dank Greenwood hole-in-the-wall opens at 6 a.m., so drinking can start at the crack of dawn. The bartenders have seen countless other loners like you, so they won't judge.
If you drunk-stumble into the joint around dinnertime, you can still have a miserable Thanksgiving dinner (racist uncle not included—thought we can't be responsible for the barfly sitting next to you). One bartender confirmed that the joint would be serving up turkey for dinner with a side of all-night karaoke—because what's better than being serenaded with drunken renditions of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" while feeling zonked out on tryptophan? (Well, many things, but beggars can't be choosers.)
Order yourself a drink. Even if you feel like drowning yourself in well whiskey, do not order a double. Seriously. Baranof bartenders will laugh in your face if you try. (Happy fucking holidays!) If you're more of a cocktail person, keep it simple—like one liquor and one mixer simple. When a friend once tried to order a Moscow Mule, the wry-looking bartender asked, "What in the hell is that?" —ANA SOFIA KNAUF
WATCH ALL THREE SHITTY NON-SEAHAWKS FOOTBALL GAMES: JOE'S BAR & GRILL
It may seem counterintuitive, but I hate watching sports in a sports bar. Sports bars are where other sportsball fans go, and generally speaking, I'm not really into sportsball fans, especially not a roomful of drunk and angry ones. I like going to places that I would normally hang out at that have a few TVs and happen to be showing the game where I can yell like a crazy person. (Hey, looking at you, Poquitos. Smooch!)
What could be more depressing than spending Thanksgiving Day afternoon watching a bunch of teams you don't give a shit about in a sports bar? On Thanksgiving Day, the games are Vikings versus Lions, Cowboys versus Redskins, and Steelers versus Colts. None of them are the Seahawks. This is a shitty football day.
The Yelp reviews for Joe's Bar & Grill alone are amazing: "Pretty sketchy clientele, 8 out of 10 of the people there were completely hammered. There were discarded pull tabs everywhere and it smelled like rotting Blackberry Brandy—I loved it!" wrote Melinda.
"Terrifying. Cash only. I love it. A shot and beer back is $4.75. I'm pretty sure I've seen patrons cash their paychecks here. Dirty crowd, most people are cut off by 7 pm... I'm literally creating a Yelp count just to write this review. Bring hand sanitizer," wrote Katrina K.
Indeed, Joe's is a classic dive that is reminiscent of the bar in the Accused—wood-paneled walls, TV screens in every room, a pool table, and a jukebox blaring Led Zeppelin, Johnny Cash, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. They sell "mystery shots" and pull tabs. The clientele is as advertised—rode hard and put away wet. But I'll say this for them: It's the most racially diverse crowd in Seattle. Love of alcohol is color-blind. —TRICIA ROMANO
STAY HOME AND WATCH A MOVIE: LEAVING LAS VEGAS
If you don't find it depressing to watch a movie that will make it impossible for you to drink on the day of the year when you need it most, then just leave it to the sheer slow-motion suicide, sadistic pimping, frat-guy gang rape, and near-necrophilia of Leaving Las Vegas to bring you down.
Nicolas Cage is brilliant—which is another reason to be depressed: What happened there?—and plays a screenwriter named Ben who's lost everything to drink, so he goes to Las Vegas to drink some more. Specifically, to drink himself to death, literally. The movie is this process happening.
He meets Sera, Elisabeth Shue (also giving a great performance—too bad you'll never be able to watch it again, because you'll be so traumatized by this first time). She's a smart, abused prostitute, and they begin a sort-of relationship in which their first rule is not to judge each other.
Then things get bad. So, so bad. There is no "good" gang rape scene ever, if you ask me. Yet this is worse than most. If you feel you are suffering sufficiently already, I will forgive your fast-forwarding through it.
And then after things are already that bad, they end worse, in a gross, floppy, pathetic tangle of sad, sad sex and death, oh my god.
What makes things even more fun is that Leaving Las Vegas is basically a documentary about the horrible exploitative soul of that glittery gambling city. In 2011, on a personal visit to people who lived barely two miles from the Strip, I took a walk through the neighborhood and ran into entire blocks where every single house had been foreclosed on and stripped of everything including the wiring inside the walls. This is how you feel after watching Leaving Las Vegas. And you cannot drink. —JEN GRAVES
SEE A MOVIE IN THE THEATER THAT WILL RUIN YOUR THANKSGIVING: THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN
I have always found that teenagers are far more interesting in person than they are in the movies. In person, they often reveal the kind of individual they will become for life—this individual is totally absent from children, who are just a mess and do the same stupid things as all other children. You can actually hold a conversation with a teenager, and sometimes you even forget you are talking to a young person with a basic education and barely any experience. But once a teenager is on a movie screen, they become boring as fuck. Is this because the writers for teenage movies are often adults? Maybe that's what made Larry Clark's 1995 Kids almost interesting? (It was written by a person who, at the time, was just out his teens—Harmony Korine.) But most teen movies, and particularly the ones out of Hollywood (indie films have a better track record‚ see Moonlight), are like the new film The Edge of Seventeen, which was written and directed by someone, Kelly Fremon Craig, who left their teen years long ago. Nothing on earth would make me watch The Edge of Seventeen except a need to be depressed, the mood that results from being bored for an extended period of time. With this movie, I can expect a teenage character who will certainly be like other Hollywood teenagers, and who in wonderful slasher films is eliminated very quickly and very brutally: struggling to be understood, sassy, self-proud, boy- or girl-obsessed, etc. If I want to make my Thanksgiving as miserable as possible, all I need to do is spend 104 minutes with the star of The Edge of Seventeen. —CHARLES MUDEDE
READ A BOOK TO MAKE THE DAY EVEN MORE MISERABLE: THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
There is nothing I hate more than talking animals. I hate them in movies; I hate them in books. Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, which is popular in Britain and was written in 1908, has nothing but animals that talk, talk, talk. Some speak in the manner of an upper-class Brit, such as with the toad, others in the manner of lower-class Londoners, as with the weasels. Page after page, we find animals having conversations with other animals—conversations about the weather, about food, about domestic matters, and even about city life. Does anyone else find this awful? Is it just me? If the world were normal like me, we would ban such books. Animals must either tweeter, roar, growl, howl, cry, or bark. I would not mind reading a book filled with animal noises. Such a novel would make my Thanksgiving not so sad. —CHARLES MUDEDE
HAVE A DINNER THAT TASTES LIKE NOTHING: CLAIM JUMPER
If you're really dedicated to this, you need to get the fuck out of Seattle. There are too many other people doing what you're doing, too many good restaurants and bars open, too much likelihood of some charming chance encounter. You're trying to be miserable, after all.
So head to the suburbs. Specifically: Claim Jumper in Tukwila. This faux-rustic chain of restaurants opened its first location in Los Alamitos, California, in 1977, according to Reuters, and filed for bankruptcy back in 2010. Somehow, it is still there, making it the perfect metaphor for our times. Or something.
Their Thanksgiving menu offers mozzarella sticks ($8.99), shrimp cocktail ($12.99), roasted turkey ($24.99), ham ($24.99), turkey and ham ($25.99), tri-tip ($25.99), and prime rib ($33.99). For dessert: pumpkin cream cheese pie, which is described as "whipped pumpkin and spice centered between a thick layer of slow-baked sweetened Philadelphia cream cheese." Judging by the photos online, any of these options will be appropriately disgusting.
"I'm writing the review as I'm eating," Yelp reviewer Amy L. wrote in September. "The food is not meant for human consumption."
Growing up in my household, going "out to dinner" meant going to a chain restaurant. We also ate at a lot of truck stops. Both offered the same thing: plentiful parking, a menu that never changed, and a rubbery chicken fried "steak" slathered in gravy. It tasted like salt and nothing else. I loved it.
The comfort at these places was in the sameness. But now that sameness is just bleak. It's depressing and it's lonely. You're gonna hate it. It'll be perfect. —HEIDI GROOVER
GO TO KARAOKE AFTER YOUR SAD, LONELY THANKSGIVING MEAL: HULA HULA
Karaoke is the most earnest form of performance. You can test this.
When someone takes the stage and sings an ironic song or a jokey song—Tenacious D, for instance—the performance flops. Transparently populist appeals to current chart-toppers flop. Excessively good singing flops when it's bloodless, when there's no risk there.
Everything flops unless it's clear that the person onstage has put in some serious shower-time or serious car-time. They know every rise and fall in the song, every curve, every breakdown. Though they fail to hit the notes sometimes, they never fail to hit the soul of the notes.
To sing karaoke this way is to embrace the moment your love of song transcends your love of self, and we would all do better to work more of those moments into our lives.
This is why the saddest solo-entertainment experience I can possibly imagine is doing karaoke at Hula Hula on Thanksgiving.
Forego the cozy charm of falling leaves for Hula Hula's garish tropical decor and its electrified drinks. Belly up to the tiki bar, browse the laminated lists of songs for Springsteen's "I'm on Fire," and order that boozy punch they serve out of a giant bowl full of toilet ice, the one with the little volcano of fire in the middle. When they ask how many straws you need, look them in the eye and say, "One."
Let other people enjoy the communal display of vulnerability and fellow-feeling with the full support of their friends. You'll be in there living out the touching, but ultimately dull, hipster movie of your loneliness. Be thankful for it. It may be the only thing you'll always have. —RICH SMITH
GETTING HOME: THE SEATTLE STREETCAR
Sound Transit had money to build a station on First Hill. But the plan for the stop was soon scrapped because of its "high construction and engineering risk." Sound Transit did not want another Beacon Hill Station, one of the deepest train stops in the country. First Hill Station would have been deeper in the ground and suffered from more structural problems than Beacon Hill Station, which leaks all of the time and needs constant maintenance. Sound Transit gave Seattle the $300 million it had for the project, and we built the Seattle Streetcar, which is pretty to look at but is depressingly slow—because it operates on the street level, it often gets trapped in Seattle's maddening traffic. At night, the cars on the line are almost always empty. And there is nothing sadder than sitting alone in a brightly lit but slow-moving car. You always look like a person who has no friends, or who has nowhere to go, or who has nothing better to do, or who has just been dumped for another and better lover. Make your depressing Thanksgiving even more depressing by taking an empty Seattle Streetcar to a Thanksgiving meal or bar or movie. Or just ride it to nowhere at all. —CHARLES MUDEDE