I am not one of the children in this photograph. In fact, I don’t know any of these once-youngsters – not their names, their present life status or residential location in the world.
What I do know is if any of them are looking at this picture, they’re probably putting a bag over their heads. Not to worry people – you were young, impressionable and at the mercy of one of your parents armed with a loaded Instamatic. Who for some reason thought it would be really cute to have the kids pose with an uncooked turkey.
It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t the turkey’s fault either. I would hope though, that one of you thought to mention to Pops that “Gee-golly Dad, you never ask us to line up and smile behind Mom’s pot roast … why is that?”
This being Thanksgiving and all, I’ll say right upfront that I’m not a big fan of turkey. I could say it’s nothing personal, but unfortunately, it is. For most of my childhood, turkeys were my neighbors. And eating the neighbors, well, it just never seemed right somehow. I guess it might have if I’d been an extra in the old “Dracula” films or did zombie dietary research as a child. I plead not guilty to both counts.
Even so, that doesn’t mean I’m very fond of them either. Growing up with a diary farm next door and a turkey farm on the other side, I had the rare opportunity to directly compare the two and decide which agricultural establishment the average American boy would most like to live near during their formative years. After a very short period of time, it wasn’t difficult to form an opinion.
You see, domestic cows are dumb but lovable. Domestic turkeys are just dumb. I remember our neighbor, the woman who ran the turkey farm, once telling me that turkeys were so stupid, if they all got scared and one of them went crazy and ran into the wall of the barn the rest would follow and do the same thing – until there was a giant pile of dead turkeys up against the wall.
“And that ain’t the worst of it, Glenn. You know turkey crap, don’t you? Sure you do, I see you got some stuck on the side of your sneaker there. Well, when them turkeys get all in a panic, not only do they start running, they start crapping. All of them. Running, piling up and crapping, boy. Imagine that.”
That seemed pretty dumb to me. Pretty horrible too, since I couldn’t scrap that damn crap off my sneaker, no matter how hard I tried. Stuff had to be a prototype of Super Glue. But notice I said domestic. Not all turkeys are dumb. Wild turkeys aren’t dumb, in fact they are some of the most cagey, forest-smart fowl around. Wild turkeys have to be that way, since a lot of people always seem to be trying to shoot them.
That seems pretty smart to me. So I have nothing against wild turkeys. Admire them even. I’m told they even make a pretty darn good bourbon.
So, on this Thanksgiving, as I have on all of them, I’ll reach for the platter of turkey and take a small piece or two for my plate and then pass it to the next person. Just to be polite. And every Turkey Day holiday and then, that person or someone else at the table will notice this and ask: Whatsamattayou, you don’t like turkey or something?
If I’m in a good mood, I’ll say: “No, not at all. It’s just that I’m on a diet.” If I’m in a less-good mood, I’ll say: “Not so much, you don’t know turkeys like I know turkeys.” I’ll leave it at that and ask for the turnips. And if I’m in a fowl (sic) mood, I’ll say:
“Let me tell you a little story about a bunch of turkeys and a barn …”