Monday, May 05, 2014

COLUMN: Turkeypocalypse.

I don't know about you, but I'm having a lousy week. I'm still trying to get over a lingering cold, I've been fighting insomnia, and even my usually awesome work week here at Castle Dispatch has consisted of training sessions full of tricks too new for this old dog. To say I've been a little stressed out would be a massive understatement. And THEN I found out the world is ending. Great.

Now, even in the heart of sleep deprivation, I am nothing if not a responsible journalist. As such, I know it's not smart to go throwing around warnings of armageddon willy-nilly. I mean, Orson Welles faked it once and half of Cleveland took up arms while people across the country fled in terror. I don't want that kind of false panic on my shoulders.

So if I were to tell you, for instance, that the world is about to destroyed by an uprising of wild turkeys, you'll know to take me seriously, right? Except these turkeys aren't especially wild. They're organized, intelligent, and you should definitely run for your life.

My friend Kari is a wellspring of amazing Facebook posts. Since our days in college, she's lived everywhere from Chicago to London. These days, however, she dwells in a suburb of Atlanta with her husband -- and like any good relocated Northerner, she revels in sharing exaggerated stories about some of the, shall we say, redneck-ier moments of her newfound life down South.

Last Friday, she posted a status update about stopping at a gas station only to find a wild turkey roaming around the parking lot. According to Kari, she went inside and mentioned this turkey to the clerk, who promptly got on the phone and told a friend to bring a shotgun right over because he'd just found dinner.

Now, whether or not the more banjo-soundtracked elements of the story actually ring true might be up for debate -- I don't think her affluent Atlanta suburb is quite as Deliverance-y as she claims. But I firmly believe
that she did, in fact, stumble upon a turkey lurkey-ing in that parking lot, and it made me wonder how I'd react to free-range poultry gobbling about in my vicinity.

I wondered this for exactly 2.3 hours. Then it happened.

That same afternoon, I spent my lunch hour at the barber. After being sidelined for most of the winter with a broken ankle, I was starting to look super extra scruffy. A passing glance at a mirror that day revealed my hair to be in moderate danger of developing a full-on party in the back, a condition which required immediate corrective action. I left my appointment freshly shorn and raring to go.

Except that I couldn't. Because a turkey was in the way.

I swear to you all that I am not lying. There I stood in the parking lot of a strip mall located on the corner of arguably the busiest intersection in Rock Island, and I was staring nose to beak at a wild turkey that had taken up guard duty just outside my car door.

"No flippin' way," I said to myself. Or, I suppose, to the turkey. It's fair to say that I am experienced in many things -- but turkey shoo-ing is NOT on that list.

"Umm, shoo?" I asked politely.

The turkey looked at me. I looked at it. It looked at me. I looked at it.

That is when the turkey stared me down, shrieked "SQUALARALERK!", and charged right for me at top speed.

My brain had just enough time to advance three questions in that split second. The first was, "Can turkeys get rabies?" (No.) The second was, "Can I run on a recently broken ankle?" (No.) The third was, "If I get chased by a deranged turkey through the parking lot of a busy strip mall adjacent to the busiest intersection in town, how strong are my odds of ending up on Youtube by dinner?" (100%).

This was a bad scenario. I had just purchased a shiny new pair of orthopedic shoes specially designed for weak ankles, and I wondered how this stability would affect my turkey-punting ability. I took two steps back as the turkey charged at me with ruffled feathers and wanton bloodlust in its eyes. Thankfully, just before things got dicey, the turkey hung a left and went a-turkeyin' down the parking lot at full throttle, clearly hellbent on rampant destruction. This left me standing open-mouthed, looking around for ANYONE who may have witnessed my harrowing brush with a real life Angry Bird. Nope. I was alone.

Later that day, I got back on Facebook only to find ANOTHER friend posting about a wild turkey showing up randomly in her yard.

This can mean only one thing, people: the TURKEYPOCALYPSE is upon us. Prepare yourself.

I, for one, don't get it. I have always loved turkeys, especially with cheddar and mayo. What could make these gentle butterballs turn into savage killing machines?

If disaster movies have taught us one thing, it's that horrible events can't occur without teaching humanity a lesson. If it had been built to code, it would have been a towering NON-inferno. If they'd moved the bodies, there would have been no Poltergeist. And mankind's shameful treatment of our planet has brought about everything from the Day After Tomorrow to monsters rising off the Pacific Rim, not to mention the God-awful M. Night Shyamalan movie where trees convince us to kill ourselves.

To better understand the turkey uprising, we need to look for a lesson. And clearly, the lesson here is that if we want to make friends with a particular member of the animal kingdom, we should probably stop trying to shove sage and breadcrumbs up their nether-regions.

So attention, Great Honorable & Merciful Turkey Overlords: Lesson learned. I'll prove it. I just got invited to a friend's wedding, and as you can see, I have clearly checked the BEEF entree. Please don't squalaralerk me.

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