Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Turkey Talk

At lunch today, the sweet girl was recounting one of her favorite moments in one of our family's favorite, funny Thanksgiving picture books: Thanksgiving at the Tappleton's. Poor Mrs. Tappleton loses her turkey. She's about to put it in the oven when the milkman arrives at the back door early to deliver eggnog (and doesn't that sound nice?). The turkey slips out of her arms, slithers down the icy steps, slides down the hill, and crashes into the icy pond. PLOP! SPLASH!

Definitely a story worth recounting, complete with giggling sound effects.

In the midst of her narration today, the sweet girl suddenly stopped and looked thoughtful.

S: Mommy, what are turkeys made from?

M: (not sure I understood) What do you mean what are they made from?

S: (with an amused chuckle, and sounding quite sure of herself) Well, they aren't the BIRD. So what are they?

M: But yes, they are birds. The turkey is a bird.

S: (eyes widening as the content of the only meat she'll eat slowly dawns) Oh. (Another pause) I don't like turkey.

M: You've always liked turkey. (mostly true)

S: No, I don't like the taste of it.

My budding vegetarian is now armed with more reasons not to eat lunchmeat. Not that I'm terribly worried, having once been a full vegetarian myself, and having only eaten poultry or fish (no beef or pork) for over twenty years.

Still, it made me laugh. What did she think turkey was all this time, if not the bird of the same name? I'm not sure I want to know!

All this turkey talk reminds me of an amusing episode from the thanksgiving dinner table when I was in about the seventh grade. Not long before the thanksgiving holiday, my math teacher had set the class a difficult word problem involving turkey eggs. I can't remember what it was now, but I do remember I wrestled with it mightily and couldn't figure it out. I think we were supposed to turn the answer in and then after the holiday break, she'd let us know if we were right and show us how to work the problem.

Well, when I couldn't figure it out, instead of humbly realizing I just didn't know how to work the problem, I had what I thought was a real epiphany. I decided that perhaps there wasn't an answer at all, and my teacher had set us a trick question as a joke. I triumphantly explained this to my family at the dinner table during thanksgiving, finishing with "so the answer was really zero, because turkeys don't lay eggs!" (And hey, I was about eleven years old at the much older than my daughter now!)

I think there was silence for a moment. Then no doubt chuckles. And then my dear grandmother, who lived with us at the time, and who had almost no tactful bones left in her body by then (she'd always been blunt, but I think age had given her more chutzpah so that she always "told it like it was") announced with great spirit: "Of course turkeys lay eggs!"

"No, they don't!" I insisted (full of spitfire that my epiphany would be doubted).

"Yes, they do!"

"No, they don't!"

"Of course turkeys lay eggs! Where do you think baby turkeys come from?"


Well, I couldn't answer that one. So I meekly acquiesed to my grandmother's wisdom (never a bad idea, even when she was less clearly right than in this situation). And my family hasn't ever let me forget the moment. "I hear turkeys don't lay eggs!" is always, always good for a laugh at the McCoy house near thanksgiving.

Hmm. Maybe they really don't lay eggs. I mean, if my five year old is correct, they might not even be birds!


Erin said...

LOL! Thanks for a hearty double dose of chuckles! :D

When my mom was a kid, the turkey caught on fire one Thanksgiving and her grandpa - who was a firefighter - panicked and dumped salt all over it, which made the fire even worse until he finally remembered to pour baking powder on it. What a mess!

Did you ever see the movie The Thanksgiving Promise? Beau, Lloyd and some other Bridges were involved with it, and I guess it was a made-for-TV movie. It's about a boy who finds an injured goose and agrees to take care of him until Thanksgiving, when the neighbors will eat him for dinner. Of course, when the time comes, he doesn't want to keep his vow... I remember seeing it at my grandparents' once, and I loved it. The movie doesn't seem to have ever made it to video or DVD, though, much to my disappointment...

Beth said...

LOL! Now I'm laughing over your mom's turkey story! Doesn't this make you think we should compile a volume of true turkey anecdotes?!

One of my very favorite episodes of *Mad About You* (which was Dana's and my favorite television show the first few years of our marriage...Jamie and Paul Buckman got "married" the same year we did) was in the third season. It involves hysterically madcap antics when the Buckman's dog Murray eats the thanksgiving turkey when no one else is around in the kitchen. The Buckmans are hosting the family for the first time and don't want to admit what's happened, so the whole episode involves them trying to sneak in another (fully cooked) turkey to replace the original. I can't remember how many of the things they lose -- one of them drops off a pulley, I think, as they're trying to haul it up to the NY apartment building window. I think I laughed till I cried!

Never saw the movie with the Bridges, but it sounds like fun!

Erin said...

Hehe! I've only seen a couple episodes of Mad About You but that sounds like a hoot!