A childhood “friend” informed my column in today’s Press & Dakotan:
Sometimes it takes the Easter Turkey to start a conversation.
Yes, you read that right — the Easter Turkey.
Let me explain.
As a child, I could make the prospect of having a conversation with me daunting to even the most brave adult. I had an arsenal of one-word volleys for any grown-up trying to get into my business.
“How are you doing?” a nice woman might have asked. “Good,” I would fire back.
“How is school?” My clever response? “Fine.”
“Kid! Your pants are on fire, and if you don’t stop, drop and roll, you are going to die!!!” I may very well have looked down at the flames emanating from my pants and responded with a succinct, “Yep.”
You get the idea. I was unflappable.
My Aunt Jeanette was determined to crack my defenses and took it upon herself to get beyond my evasive one-word answers using whatever means necessary.
And so began the legend of the Easter Turkey.
I know this may seem late. Easter has already come and gone. But, in fact, it may help give this story the focus it deserves.
Usually, all anyone can ever talk about around the Easter holiday is the Easter Bunny. This is precisely why the Easter Turkey is typically in such a fowl mood. (He would appreciate the pun.) He is forever overshadowed by those big adorable bunny ears. Put a turkey and a bunny in a “cute animal” contest, and the bunny is going to win every time. That’s a scientific fact. A twitch of a bunny nose will conquer the heart of a human every time. The wiggle of a turkey wattle just doesn’t have the same effect — especially when it belongs to the Easter Turkey.
For those of you who have never had the pleasure of meeting this mystical creature, let me paint a picture of him. It’s not pretty. He wears a small, battered top hat to keep his dry, wrinkled head warm. Fittingly, the old, ruffled Easter Turkey wears an eyepiece over his droopy, crusty left eye, and his right foot drags ever so slightly when he walks. This is due to the fact that, one year, there was an egg shortage, and a kung fu fight broke out between the Easter Bunny and the Easter Turkey (Pandas aren’t the only animals who practice kung fu, you know). The only problem was, the Easter Turkey doesn’t know kung fu. He did some serious damage to his leg during that battle royale — and lost miserably. The Easter Bunny did feel bad enough afterward to share some eggs that had gone bad, though.
I admit that, like most kids, I was absorbed in Easter Bunny lore. How did he carry all that candy around in a basket? Was he white and hopping around on two legs? Did he distribute chocolate bunnies to discourage people from eating actual bunnies?
On Easter morning, I would check the yard for evidence that he had indeed been to our house. I kept my eyes peeled for bunny tracks and other evidence.
It’s been suggested that the Easter Bunny excretes jelly beans, but sadly I never found candy lying around the farm. Just the normal rabbit “stuff” …
But here I am, playing into the Easter Bunny hype machine and ignoring the real subject at hand: The Easter Turkey.
I haven’t even told you the coolest facts about him yet.
The thing about the Easter Turkey is, he doesn’t limit visits to Easter. Unlike the comparatively lazy Easter Bunny, he works year-round to spread filth and unhappiness to all of the world’s naughty children. So why is he the “Easter” Turkey, then? Because what turkey wants to be the “Thanksgiving” turkey?
He doesn’t bring candy. No, not even close. He brings smelly socks, rotten eggs and, if you’re really bad, dirty underwear.
Considering his payload, you can understand why the Easter Turkey isn’t exactly a happy fellow. Usually, he is downright mean, though he does have his own twisted sense of humor.
Normally, any mention of Thanksgiving around the Easter Turkey would earn you not just a pair of dirty underwear, but also a painful peck on the bottom. Well, when I asked him once if he would be so kind as to deliver me a rotten turkey for Thanksgiving (I had a practical joke in mind for my annoying brothers), he informed me that, “I’m the only rotten turkey that’s going to pay you a visit this year, kid.”
He also has a penchant for telling bad jokes.
“Why did the turkey cross the road?” he asked me once. “Because he’s a turkey, ya turkey.”
To be honest, Aunt Jeanette probably gave me the gift of the Easter Turkey with very few of these details.
But the story did get me to talk. We built the legend together.
At many family gatherings, we discussed the Easter Turkey — if he had visited, what he had brought, what cruel jokes he had played. (I think he may have stolen some of Aunt Jeanette’s socks at one point to dirty them and pass them along to some other bad children. She wasn’t happy about that.)
Sure enough, my one-word answers at least occasionally became sentences with subjects, verbs and prepositional phrases.
I guess I must have been a pretty bad case, as Aunt Jeanette told me recently that she has not passed along the story of the Easter Turkey to her children.
But I’ve never forgotten the Easter Turkey, and now I pass the story along to you.
After all, it sometimes takes the Easter Turkey to start a conversation.