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The truth about turkeys

Every Thanksgiving I spend time remembering my first encounter with turkeys. It was not a pleasant experience.

 Having grown up in West Los Angeles, I was very near adulthood before I realized turkeys came in any form other than wrapped up in plastic and ready to pop into the oven.

 My first confrontation with turkey reality came on the day of my wedding. I was to marry the beautiful daughter of a turkey farmer, and as the ceremony wasn’t scheduled until late in the afternoon, and having nothing better to do with the rest of the day, we decided to visit her turkey farm. (It is really a lot more complicated than that, but I thought we would just cut to the good stuff.)



 In any case, on that warm August day 35-plus years ago, I was standing on the side of the road next to a farmyard when my fiance, in the strangest tone, asked me to gobble. This was a new side of her personality I hadn’t discovered before, and what with the wedding coming up in a few hours, caused me no little consternation.

 Again, she demanded I imitate a turkey, and once again, I stared back at her searching for some clue to this frightening new aspect of her psyche.



 “This must be some kind of Minnesota test brides always perform on their grooms,” I thought to myself, and, not wishing to break ancient Scandinavian traditions, I acquiesced.

 “Gobble, gobble,” I mumbled while trying not to sacrifice my last shred of human dignity.

 “Louder!” she demanded.

 By now my pride had diminished into nothingness, and so I had absolutely nothing left to lose. “GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE!” I crowed S or turkeyed, to the vast amusement of several nearby farmhands.

 Suddenly, out of nowhere, thousands of the ugliest, meanest, most horrifying beasts came charging toward me. Shrieking like banshees from hell, they surrounded me, their faces turning blue. They seemed to be sizing me up as a potential meal.

I let out a shriek of utter terror as I imagined how my obituary would describe my death. The turkeys shrieked back even louder. Above the demonic din I heard my bride-to-be’s hysterical laughter.

 It was a terrible trick to play on an innocent city boy, but I have learned how to exact my revenge.

 For many years, as Thanksgiving nears, I have felt called to proclaim the truth about turkeys.

 Not only will turkeys come charging like moronic monsters any time some innocent is tricked into gobbling, they also will stand out in the rain with their heads up, breathing in the precipitation. The obvious result of such recreation is death, which doesn’t dissuade other turkeys from following suit.

In addition, thousands of these foul fowl frequently gather in piles. This athletic achievement is attained whenever the stupid birds panic S which is to say just about anytime anyone says “Boo!” or, even better, “Gobble, Gobble!” What they do is what it sounds like. They scramble up on top of each other by the thousands. The result is similar to what happens when it rains.

There are other, equally bizarre, characteristics to turkey life, but they are not appropriate for a family newspaper.

Perverse perhaps and unimportant to be sure, such annual ruminations add a certain exquisite pleasure when, come Thursday, I will, once again, stand over the golden bird sharpening my carving knife.

Columnist Rich Mayfield writes in this space every Saturday. He is to be commended for his deep knowledge of turkeys.


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