[Originally published November 21, 2012.]
Let’s just assume that it’s Thanksgiving, because there’s no other reason that you should be cooking a turkey. Maybe you’re cooking a turkey for a normal dinner party. If that’s the case, you can take your non-Thanksgiving turkey cooking somewhere else, Mister or Misses or Doctor Show Off. No one cares.
So it’s either American or Canadian Thanksgiving. What is Canadian Thanksgiving all about, anyway? Kidding! Sort of!
Calculate how many people you have coming over for dinner. Seventeen? Zero? These things are important to know before choosing a turkey.
Go to your local turkey farm and pick the turkey that seems like it has the least to lose. You know, the one in the corner, not surrounded by its turkey friends and family. Look for the turkey with a limp cigarette hanging from its mouth and an empty bottle of whiskey rolling around its feet, the feathers under its eyes stained from crying. That’s the one that wants to die.
Raise your hatchet above your head, aim for the neck.
But just then notice a love letter lying crumpled in the corner written in the unmistakable scratch of a turkey. Could it be that there is more than meets the eye with this turkey? Could it be that the turkey is just heartbroken?
Scan the turkey yard for a vixen girl turkey. She will be the one with the extra long eyelashes, pink wattle and flirty nature. She, yes, SHE is the one that made this poor turkey so forlorn!
Take the turkey aside. Put your arm around his shoulder. Say, “Walk with me.” Take him to the edge of the yard and point to the horizon. Say, “See that? That line where the earth meets the sky? That is the beginning of the Wide World. There is more for you than this yard, this heartbreak.” Say that you realize it is a cruel twist of fate that he has wings, yet cannot truly fly away. When he tries to say that he can fly, just put your finger to his beak and smile indulgently. Then take him to the airport. Buy two tickets to Italy. As you take off say, “Now THIS is flying!” He will have to agree.
Land in Florence and eat enormous portions of pasta with truffles heaped on top. Have seconds. Take the train to Rome and feast on gelato while sitting on the Spanish Steps. Carry the turkey in your arms, so his short turkey legs do not slow you down.
Affectionately refer to him as “a turkey.” As in, “You’re such a turkey!” Say, “Remember that book, Eat, Pray, Love?” and he will shake his head no, because turkeys don’t read. They can, they just chose not to. Don’t even ask him if he watched the movie. Did you see a TV in the turkey yard? Didn’t think so. Although he might have seen it on the plane.
Introduce him to an Italian lady turkey with a large breast and beguiling dark eyes. She will make your turkey smile for the first time in years.
Have late night talks over glasses of grappa and speak of things you are grateful for, like friendship. And when the cranberry sauce comes out of the can in a perfect can shape with the ridges and everything.
After a wonderful trip, return him to the turkey yard. Tuck him into his bed of fresh hay. Tell him to dream of more travels and beautiful foreign lady turkeys in every city. Say that no dream is too big and that he can achieve anything he wants, a richer life awaits him than the one he has been living.
Smile sweetly, blow him a kiss and turn off the light, leaving the door slightly ajar.
When you hear his gentle, contented snore, sneak back in, cut off his head with your hatchet, pluck him clean, roast for 6 or so hours and serve hot to your guests.