I’m a vegetarian—except on Thanksgiving. Call it hypocrisy, but this annual gustatory weakness is not my fault. If God had wanted me to be a strict vegetarian he would not have made turkey so delicious. And the big guy upstairs must really have it in for turkeys because he also made them stupid. Delicious and stupid. Now, I may be rationalizing, but I see nothing wrong with eating an animal with an I.Q. lower than my own. This odd epicurean belief is the reason why I avoid all gatherings of Mensa. Around them I get the unsettling feeling that I’m being graded, and fall somewhere between Choice and Prime.
Anyway, back to turkeys. When I worked at Knott’s Berry Farm, every morning on my walk from the employee parking lot to my shop, I’d pass a water ride called Bigfoot Rapids. As part of the woodsy atmosphere, the ride had a small island, which was the home for two turkeys. Each day I’d see them happily roosting in the trees and hear them gobbling. The turkeys, though, were the avian version of dumb and dumber. They had a tendency to jump into the water flume and get swept along the rapids until a brave maintenance worker plucked them out. You think a wet hen is mad.
Sadly, they are not great swimmers, and several turkeys succumbed to a watery grave. Added turkey guards (i.e. chicken wire fences) did little to deter the determined fowl, who could not understand that they were not–water fowl.
Some employees actually started a death pool, betting on the date the latest turkey would meet his end. What can I say? When you’re eighteen, dressed like a lumberjack, and spend your days loading tourists from Iowa into a giant floating donut, you have to do something to amuse yourself. When their chosen death date arrived, employees would pray that they’d come to work and find a turkey floating beak-down. It gave new meaning to the term, bird of prey.
Though I never participated in the death pool, I now completely understand how the idiom,” What a turkey” entered the English language. And to think, Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national bird. If his bid had succeeded, it would have completely changed this country. Today we’d hear things like:
The turkey has landed. I repeat; the turkey has landed.
I’m so proud; my boy just became a Turkey Scout.
For my divorce I got myself a real legal turkey.
Hey, how about them Philadelphia Turkeys?
Or, I went to the mall to go to American Turkey Outfitters, but in the parking lot I tripped over a speed bump and landed spread-turkey, luckily a turkey-eyed security guard spotted me, but I was so embarrassed; he was probably thinking—jeeze, what a turkey.
Okay, so I may have been a turkey, but I’ll bet you I’m not nearly as delicious.