My junior year of college, I worked in the features department of the student-run city newspaper.

“Chaz” worked the desk. He chose one lucky girl each semester to date and to take home to his mother, who always (I discovered later) said, “Oh, Chaz! You didn’t tell me she was so pretty!”

Chaz went by a three-name byline with a Roman numeral at the end. (Too much.) He hosted parties where guests had to recite memorized bits of poetry, then discuss their significance. (Too, too much.) He liked to make the toast, “To us! We will never feel so intelligent again!” (Waaaayyy too much.)

Chaz chose me as his lucky semester girlfriend. When he dumped me after five months, I was heartbroken.

“Oh, honey,” my mom said as I wailed on the phone. “He was just too much.”

I thought of Chaz today as I finalized our Thanksgiving menu. So much about the big Thursday meal is too much: Too much cream; too much meat; too much sugar and bread. Do we really need four or five or six cream- and bacon-laden casseroles?

This year, I’m editing. Yes, we’ll have the turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes and gravy. But I’ve streamlined the sides:

We’ll eat roasted Brussels sprouts with a shower of lemon juice:

brussels raw

The green beans I froze from the garden, tossed in red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon and garlic:

green beans cooked

Acorn squash roasted and doused with a sweet-and-sour sauce:

acorn squash

The astringency and simplicity of those edited side dishes will complement the heavier ones. They’ll cleanse our palates and refresh our appetites. They’ll keep us from falling into a glutton-induced stupor before dessert.

So what, you may wonder, ever happened to Mr. Too Much?

I have no idea. A couple of years after college, I (and all the other semester girlfriends) got an invitation to his wedding. He’d dropped the jazzy nickname, the pretentious byline and the Roman numeral. Apparently he’d met someone who could edit him.

I hope she’s not too much for him.

 

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