Saturday, January 27, 2007

#12 - Thanksgiving and Self-Defense

Thanksgiving and Self-Defense
A different kind of turkey day


Some people are vegetarians because they think it's cruel to slaughter animals.

I eat turkey for the exact opposite reason---a preemptive strike against the bellicose beasts.

It all started when my Dad (for 25 years the owner of Shaw and Tenney, manufacturers of the world's finest wooden paddles) asked me to make a delivery to a nearby business, Jackson Boat. Easy enough---I had never visited Jackson Boat, but it was on my daily commute, so I expected it would be a quick stop, a few minutes of small talk about business, and I'd be on my way home. No problem.

Of course, all horror movies start with seemingly simple ventures. This one included.

Jackson Boat resides on a long, narrow lot, no wider than the average house acreage but much deeper. I parked in the dirt lot outside the chain link fence adorned with banners for Old Town Canoes and Sunfish sailboats, looked around at the piled kayaks and dinghies, but could see no one waiting for my delivery. From the driveway, I saw a stair case to the second floor of the house, roughly 50 feet away, and at the top of the stairs a door with a sign reading "Office. (I suspect the "Office" was also known to the business owners as "the living room".) I took the package from the car and headed toward the office.

I was 5 feet from the stairs when the ambush occurred. Exploding from under the stairs where they had clearly been waiting for the precise moment to lunge (" he comes.....NOW!"), two enormous turkeys rushed at me in a flutter of flapping, flagellating wings and maniacal, cacophonic squawking!

These were not your average thanksgiving turkeys. Remember the enormous bird in the butcher's window in A Christmas Carol, the one that Ebenezer buys for Bob Cratchet's family in the end of the story? That was a game hen in comparison to these avian freaks of nature. Each stood about 4 feet high (one clearly larger, probably due to the steady diet of mailmen), and each was surely the subject of folk stories told in starving African villages, hungry children dreaming of a fabled feast that would fly in and feed their family for years to come. I do not exaggerate---Hell is the only oven that exists that could possibly accommodate the baking of these most foul of fowl, but even the Devil himself would have shrieked, "Jesus, what the $#%@ is THAT?!?"

I've nearly lost fabric from my pants to a doberman or two in my day, and I once encountered a rotweiller who didn't bother with courteous introductions, but I was not at all prepared for what seemed like a Wes Craven version of a Far Side cartoon. My brain, reeling from a sudden and massive jolt of adrenaline, mentally searched years of absorbed Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and Discovery channel specials in hopes of recalling an image of Marlin Perkins calmly stating, "Here's what to do if ever you find yourself confronted by a pterodactyl in a chicken suit", but the only message to pop up was "No match found, No match found. RUN!"

So I ran.

And this was no family-picnic-softball-game so-called-sprint-for-first-base run. Hearing the giant birds speaking in tongues behind me, certain that one of them was calling dibs on the white meat, I am reasonably confident that my first 6 steps would have appeared to a passerby to be an outtake from a Road Runner episode, my feet reaching 60 miles per hour before actual movement began. I had no conception of what would happen if these steroidal bastard cousins of Sesame Street's Big Bird caught me---I envisioned myself knocked down by an enormous wing, struggling to get up only to be violently swatted down again by the plumed appendage, or worse yet, the fulfillment of Hitchcockian vision culminating in the final words heard by my ears being the turkey equivalent of Homer Simpson moaning, "mmmmmmm....shiny eyeballs"---so I made sure they didn't catch me. I reached the car, praying that my ancient Volvo had peck-proof glass, swung open the door and snuck a momentary glance at the feathered fiends pursuing me.

But they had stopped, 5 feet from the gate, strutting and glowering like a pair of Grimm's fairy tale giants who had been denied the tender flesh of a young trespasser. I stood crouched behind the door like a movie cop waiting for the villain's next move, watching in horror as that dangling amassment of flesh below each of their beaks swung wildly with each turn of their obviously-still-pissed-off faces.

"I see you've met the boys" the voice cheerfully called from the stairs.
Met the boys. This man had a gift for understatement. If you were diagnosed with cancer and given 2 days to live, his opening line would probably be "I hear you're feeling a bit under the weather?"
"They won't go near the street," he continued. "The sound of cars scares them silly."

Aaaah, I see. I hadn't seen that factoid on the non-existent "Beware of Turkeys" sign. But then, that sign wouldn't have helped a bit, since upon my arrival, my response would have been, "Turkeys? What's to be scared of with turkeys?" And the word "Turkey" wouldn't have helped, either. The only effective warning sign at Jackson Boat would have read, "Imagine the Unimaginable, and DO NOT utter the word 'gravy'!"

So now, when I sit down for Thanksgiving, I give thanks for the many good things in my life, including the fact that my guard turkey story doesn't end with, "and that's how I got my wooden leg." Then I lean close to the glistening brown bird and whisper, "This isn't about you, fella. This is about something bigger than you."

©2003 wpreagan

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