Friday, January 14, 2011

Trot Out Your Turkeys

Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, there was a columnist at the Salisbury Post whose pen name was Venus of Faith. He was the "country correspondent," and he reported news from the small towns--Faith, Granite Quarry, and Rockwell, among others--surrounding Salisbury, which was the "big city" in the area.

Venus, (his real name was J.T. Wyatt) often ended his columns with the challenge, "If you can beat that, trot it out." With a tip of my hat to Venus, here is my turkey story, as related by my manicurist...

Another of my manicurist's clients is married to an engineer, or possibly a physicist--a man with some such nerdy occupation. She's a drug rep, or maybe she sells hospital equipment--something like that. Suffice to say they are both college educated, and have demanding jobs, a house, mortgage, 2.5 kids, etc. They are living the American dream.

The day before Thanksgiving, Mrs. Very Busy Professional asked Mr. VBP to please stop by the grocery store and pick up a turkey as she was in over her head bringing home the bacon, frying it up in the pan, and making her mani-pedi appointments. He agreed to pick up the bird.

Now, Mr. VBP had been reading up on locally sustainable food sources, organic farming, global warming, and many other socially conscience topics. He was looking to reduce his carbon footprint, et cetera. He thinks to himself, I can do better than stopping by the grocery store. I can get us a REAL turkey for Thanksgiving.

He drives his Mercedes all the way to a farm in Boiling Springs and picks up a LIVE TURKEY and totes him home in a cage in the back seat. The bird was unhappy with this development, and spoke about it to Mr. VBP all the way back to Greenville.

Can you imagine this man's poor wife's face when he unloaded that sucker in the backyard? I crack up every time I think about it. What kind of idiot... I wonder sometimes if too much education might unhinge certain personality types... I digress.

She stared at him with confusion and disbelief. "What am I suppose to do with that?" she reasonably inquired.

"You grew up on a farm," he said, rather defensively. "You can pluck it, right?"

Amazingly, she did not kill him.

She did what all wives do in the face of husbandly idiocy. She ignored him and carried on. She got into her BMW and drove to the grocery store, leaving him to deal with his new pet.

Thanksgiving dinner came and went, but big bird was not getting along well with the family dog in the fenced in backyard. The turkey tended to peck at the small pooch. The bird was likewise unfriendly to the children, who were afraid to go outside. Mrs. VBP had meetings the day after Thanksgiving, and demanded Mr. VBP deal with the poultry.

The farm apparently had a no-return policy, and it took some imagination and a lot of phone calls to find someone willing to adopt the turkey. Then there was the matter of cleaning the feathers and stench from the Mercedes. I guess some ideas sound better on the Internet than they are in practice.

If you can beat that turkey story, trot out your turkeys.

Peace, out...


P.S. Don't forget! Bob Strother's short story collection, Scattered, Smothered, and Covered, is scheduled for release in early February and is available for advance order right now. Order your copy today and take advantage of the discount price of $9.00 -- that's six dollars off the cover price! The book can be ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore. Here is a link that will take you directly there: Scattered, Smothered, and Covered


Valerie Norris said...

So are we talking metaphorical turkeys, like the clueless husband, or turkeys "in real life," as my granddaughter would say? That was a great story, BTW.

In real life, my turkeys have always turned out just fine, thank you. Especially the year I used the Cook's Illustrated recipe(motto, "making every recipe five times longer and ten times more complicated, and only printing cookbooks in black and white even though it's 2011"), which required that I take the bird out of the oven and give it a quarter turn three times in 45 minutes. What can I say? I'm a fool for "the perfect recipe."

Susan M. Boyer said...

I bet it was well worth the effort. :) The best one I ever baked was the year I tried brining and stuffing it with apples, onions, and celery.

Bob Strother said...

Alas, I cannot beat your story, so... a bow of the head in deference to your great reporting. I would, however, direct your attention to David Sedaris' book,"Holidays on Ice," wherein he pens a turkey story worthy of the ages.

Phil Arnold said...

This may not beat yours, but I have a turkey story that happened to me when I was eighteen. I was home for a long Christmas vacation from college, and I had a temp job at a nearby turkey farm. I was part of a crew that went into the turkey pens and grabbed the turkeys and handed them up to a guy on a flatbed truck. He would put six turkeys into wooden cages, and stack up the cages until the truck was full.

Do you know how to grab a turkey? Not by the neck, for sure. It will flat those big wings furiously and probrably break your wrist. What you do is reach down, grab one leg, and quickly jerk the turkey up-side-down. You must hold it as far from your body as possible, or those flapping wings could break your ribs. Turkeys are pretty dangerous.

I was wearing contact lenses, and all that flapping blew up heavy dust from the litter (or what ever they call it) on the floor of the pen. In no time, the dust got under my contacts and tears started streaming down my face. The rest of the regular crew just shrugged and mumbled things about me. I heard on of them say something like, "Stupid college kid. He's crying because we're going to kill all these turkeys."

Susan M. Boyer said...

Oh, Phil! Bless you heart--that's horrible. I can't imagine having to wrestle turkeys for a job, even temporary. That does sound dangerous. I'm glad you didn't get a wrist broken--or worse. But that is kinda funny they thought you were crying for the turkeys... :)

Barbara said...

Ok. This isn't my turkey story, but it was pretty funny when I heard about it. Back when the first George Bush was running for a second term, he came to Atlanta to campaign. My boss was part of the National Turkey Hunters Association. Somehow their conference was held in the same hotel that Bush showed up at one day. They came marching into the lobby all rigged up with hunting gear and rifles. Surprised the daylights out of the Secret Service. He laughed his head off about this the following Monday.

Susan M. Boyer said...

Now that is funny...

Carole St-Laurent said...

Good story, so funny! I can't imagine why the DH would think this was a good idea. I never grew up with any king of turkey tradition, but since we're here, and we live by the adage "when in Rome..." I did roast a few turkeys and they turned out to be delicious.

Did you know that pound for pound, turkey has the most protein? It's very healthy.

Phil, as a buyer, I visited many slaughterhouses, and turkeys particularly stood out as being very stinky.