Joanne Palmer: Talking turkey with Tom
November 26, 2008
Using some super top secret hi-tech tracking devices and women’s intuition, I caught up with Tom Turkey at Gobbledygook Farms and sat down to talk with him – with the help of an interpreter – about the Thanksgiving holiday.
Joanne Palmer: Hey Tom, how are you doing?
Tom Turkey: How did you find me?
JP: It wasn’t hard. You’re at a turkey farm.
TT: Oh. I guess hiding behind this piece of wood isn’t very effective. I feel horrible, terrible. I wasn’t the turkey chosen to be pardoned.
JP: I’m so sorry.
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TT: I practiced my gobbling to get it to sound just right. Gobbling is an art, you know. Maybe something like yodeling for you humans.
JP: Got it.
TT: And then they passed me right over. The National Turkey Federation Chairman picked two turkeys instead of me to pardon.
TT: Yes. They pick an alternate bird in case the first bird isn’t up to his duties. Kinda like an understudy. I was ready, I tell you. Ready. Not only did I practice my gobbling, I was getting buff by lifting twigs in the yard here with my beak and my claws so I would look good on national TV. I was ready for my close-up, as you humans say. This year, for the first time, they picked a female bird, an all-white, 30-pound turkey named Katie. The alternate was a male named Zach.
JP: You do look great. I can’t believe they didn’t pick you. How long has this turkey pardoning tradition been going on?
TT: Last year’s turkey tried to peck the president. I’d never do such a thing, even though I don’t approve of the war in Iraq and the way the economy is going.
JP: How do you know what the president is doing?
TT: I can see CNN through the window of the house. I read the scroll at the bottom of the screen. Turkeys aren’t stupid, you know.
JP: Right. So how long has this turkey pardoning tradition been going on?
TT: And then look what happened when Sarah Palin pardoned a turkey. Did you see that? Right behind her on TV, someone else was killing live turkeys. Fowl play! Oh, it’s been giving me nightmares! It’s not easy being a turkey, you know.
JP: I did see it, and it was awful. Is there such a thing as Xanax for turkeys?
JP: Never mind. Can we get back to the turkey pardoning tradition?
TT: Yes and no. Some say it started with Harry Truman in 1947, but that can’t be verified. A turkey was delivered to him, but no one knows what happened to it. Yikes! Some Web sites say that George H.W. Bush gave the first official pardon in 1989. Then, in 2007, the pardoned turkey, “May” and the alternate, “Flower,” were flown first-class to Disney World in Orlando. Then they both got to be honorary grand marshals of the Disney Thanksgiving Day Parade. First class!
JP: Wow, I’ve never flown first class.
TT: After that, it all went downhill. Now the pardoned turkeys go to a farm in Virginia. But that’s still better than being on someone’s dinner plate. Now let me ask you a question. Given the state of the economy, why do people want to keep eating turkey for Thanksgiving? Why can’t they just eat grilled cheese instead? Tofu turkey? Or peanut butter and jelly?
JP: Traditions die hard, I guess.
TT: I guess. And while we’re at it, tell retailers to wait until after Thanksgiving before pushing Christmas. Quit rushing. In the meantime, I’m going back into hiding. Don’t tell anyone you saw me, OK?
JP: Got it. Thank you for your time. Good luck to you.
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