Saturday, August 21, 2010

turkey terrific

our neighbors have turkeys again this year.  one tom and two hens.  they will eventually be eaten- not sure that they know this.  they area of the yard they live in parallels the whole rear side of our property.  there is a fence that the birds can easily fly over.  they have demonstrated this several times. 

as soon as they are in our yard they want nothing more than to get back to their side.  usually this is because one of them, most often the tom, is at home a bit freaked out to be separated from his ladies.  as far as physical make-up and vocal abilities the tom has more features.  if he was a vehicle he would be the more souped up version.  he puffs up and struts about if you so much as look at him.  if you look at him and make any noise, a grunt, a hoot, a trill, a gobble- well then, he gets quite feverish about his display of don't-fuck-with-me-or-my-girls.  in terms of cause and effect it is very rewarding to get the turkey to do this.

he does this especially passionately when he gals are over here and he is not.  even more so when we attempt to get the gals back over there-  which involves cornering them and then tossing them back over.  these turkeys are not small either and i have somewhat of a irrational fear of turkeys which stems back to the infamous "turkey terrific" of my childhood in torrance, ca.

here's the setting: my childhood home on 170th street not far from the intersection of crenshaw and artesia.  a definite suburban setting.  however, there were five or so homes on our block with unusually large lots considering the area- ours was about a 1/4 acre.  i lived there until i was 14 and throughout those years we had a large assortment of animal friends: ducks, a tortoise, cats, dogs, a seagull (named sherlock) and this turkey who didn't live with us too long- we eventually did eat him, although it's never  been clear to me if that was the intention all along or if we just grew to hate him so much that it was a reasonable revenge.

let me explain.  turkey terrific was mean.  this could be because he had no female companion.  and when someone is lonely they can turn on you.  what i remember most about this turkey is that he ran very fast right at me.  there was a span of my life when i was terrified to go in the backyard because the turkey, whose head looks much like a vultures, if you look closely, would charge at me with his bustle all up and his wings all splayed and his spongy neck flesh all bright red while he made some kind of hissing-like noise.  he was my height to top it all off.

the only thing he did other than attack me was defend the lawn mower.  we had a beat-to-shit red gas lawn mower that the turkey loved dearly.  he would strut around it fairly often trying to impress it with his prowess.  and when he decided that she, if a boat can have a gender- why not a lawn mower?- had been sufficiently wooed by this he would mount the machine and flutter about clumsily until satisfied with his performance.  then he'd go back to attacking me.  need less to say, we didn't mow the lawn much that summer.

i have this very clear memory of turkey terrific that i'm not sure is real.  my brother should be consulted.  my birthday is in the summer and i remember having a birthday party- outside of course.  somehow my mother, it must have been her, had pinned the turkey to a fence by his spongy-neck thing...what are those called? that he could not chase anymore.  and i mean pin- as in she took a large safety pin, pushed it through is a wattle?....and then hooked this onto the chain link.   i remember being fascinated by his purplish eyelids and the sheen of his feathers.  up close i could almost see his beauty behind his evilness.  with so many giggly young girls close by the bird became upset and in that state of excitement ripped free of his torture.  he then dove at us with a ferociousness that was horrifying.  girls went screeching about with their summer dresses in daisy prints streaming out behind them like a comet's tail.  several were crying, pretty sure i was one of them. not my best birthday party.

we ate him that thanksgiving.  a neighbor slaughtered him for us and did all the things to a dead animal you need to do in order to eat him- which i am still mostly unclear about.  my neighbors, no doubt, know this routine.  they've gone through it with turkeys and fryer chickens for several years now.  i believe it's the mom who uses the hatchet.  she was in the marine corp before she had kids.

her kids have no fear of turkeys or really mean roosters.  when the lady turkeys are in our yard, their youngest daughter- who is around 10 now- comes over and walks right up to them without any hesitation.  she pins the wings down and tossing them over the wire fence as if she was throwing a pillow onto a newly made bed.  of course, this is the same gal would enter the chicken coop with a tennis racket to deal with their rowdy rooster.  but that's a whole other story.

i like to watchand now as a mom would spends most of her time with two boys ages 2 and 8- i can totally understand how not having a peer around can make you a wee-bit crazy.  sometimes you just need to reach out to whatever is there- i've been known to talk to my oven.  as long as it doesn't start to talk back- i'm not worried.

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