So since we’re talking about weird crap our government does that makes no sense, I figured why not shine a little spotlight on one of the less kerfuffle-worthy ones, yes?
Something light and breezy for this most glorious season of simple carbohydrates and laughing Type II Diabetes right in the face.
The Presidential Turkey Pardon has got to be one of the oddest forms of shenaniganry we get up to in this Hunter Thompson essay of a country, you guys. Now why?
If John F. Kennedy jumped off a building would you jump off a stupid building too?
Of course not. The man cheated on Jackie Onassis.
On Jackie freaking O., you guys.
His judgment was questionable at best.
But, like lots of weird entries in our book of national shadows, John F. Kennedy is responsible for this cultural curiosity as well.
So here’s the deal. Politicians freaking love pardoning things. Makes them look good. Probably makes them feel good, too. If they have a soul.
Which not all of them do.
Abraham Lincoln never officially pardoned a Thanksgiving turkey. This is information it took approximately one sliver of a fraction of a nanosecond of my life to uncover after typing the words “did Abraham Lincoln ever pardon a Thanksgiving turkey” into Google and slamming return, by the by. Just, you know. For future reference, if you ever have a bunch of cameras pointed at your face and don’t want to sound like you spent less time researching your national public appearance than I did researching this utter, utter waste of your Monday morning coffee break.
He did, however, decline to butcher and consume one for Christmas, which had been his original intention, when his son Tad grew attached to it, and started calling it Jack, and led it around like a puppy on a leash through the Rose Garden, probably making aggressive eye contact with his father the entire time.
That’s why the desk doesn’t face the windows anymore, you guys.
You know this, right?
Also, much respect to His Beardedness for not caving and getting the stupid puppy Tad most likely whined at his dad about wanting for like sixteen straight months before attempting some manipulative street theatre and hooking up the Christmas protein like a pony on a lead rope.
I don’t know what you’ve heard but we’re Americans here, Sunny Jim. We don’t negotiate with terrorists or toddlers bent on shaming us into adopting stray mammals for them to neglect to let out. Or clean up after. Or get a job to feed.
I see you, sir. And I’m nodding at you in calm recognition of your strong parenting game from across the ether.
It’s cute. It’s fun.
I suppose it’s not really a problem, so I’ll just go ahead and make it one. I’m really good at this.
From the 1940’s right up through Johnny K’s little shake-em-up stunt for the adoring press (and basically, like, all of the female members of the human race between the ages of 15 and 286), photo ops with turkeys and presidents were a bit more grim, if not unexpectedly visionary.
They were taking selfies with their food before it was even cool.
But then the Kennedys had to go and be all fancy about it.
And now here we are in 2020, with a pandemic swirling around us, uncertainty in what comes next, or how, or from whom, looming pendulous as a drop of ketchup off the rear end of a sloppy garbage burger over the unsuspecting silk blouse of an unabashedly hungry woman who does not negotiate with culturally-sanctioned rules regarding what women order at lunch meetings.
But we’re still taking time out for the pardoning of turkeys.
It’s not as if turkeys are not some of the most benevolent creatures on the face of the planet.
Have you ever seen a turkey?
One that you didn’t immediately then shoot with your brother’s uncle’s grandpa’s neighbor’s vintage 20 gauge hand-me-down?
Yeah, sit down Doug.
I’m not talking to you.
Have you ever just watched a turkey beebopping around the woods, doing its little turkey thing on its little turkey feet?
They’re freaking adorable.
I personally have two turkeys.
I had five turkeys, but I live in the woods so I also have two foxes.
So now I have two turkeys.
That was an actual third grade homeschool math word problem the other day, by the way. Just a fun little side note for ya.
We have two turkeys, six ducks, and like 20-some-odd chickens – a flock including two roosters who are sweet and cuddly and apparently unaware that they have two hunks of murder bone growing out of their feet that could gut me with one halfhearted kick as I hug them upon my triumphant return from work each night.
I’m going to be single forever.
The roosters are glorious, and funny, and meander about my yard with this funky little head-bobbing sidestep as they glance up every now and then from the ground they peck unmolested (except, of course, by those darn aforementioned jerk foxes and the occasional wayward raptor) with curious expressions in their deep chocolate eyes. Probably to see if there are any jerk foxes or wayward raptors or moms with bowls of leftover but warmed-up table scraps (guilty as charged) about.
I hear Stevie Wonder and George Clinton playing in my head each time they puff up and put their full prancing gait on unabashed display.
But the turkeys.
The turkeys move slow. They’re hesitant. Their legs are long, and their elbows (I know they’re not elbows, but according to the rules I’ve set forth according to me, they are elbows, now and forevermore, it is known) are knobbly and awkward. While the roosters get around in purposeful, wide-set steps around the compound on their endless rounds in search of invertebrates to ingest, the turkeys glide. They bend gracefully and push off lightly with their feet. The roosters jerk and march. The turkeys wind and winnow with their heads down but their eyes up. They chirp to one another, always, back and forth like a constant volley of “everything good?”
“Yep, everything’s good.”
When they catch you trekking across the grass toward them they cock their heads to the side and seem to consider you with a sort of pathetic innocence and just enough wariness to make them the two survivors of a clutch of five.
They’re so chill. They’re just the absolute picture of benignity and irreproachability. They don’t even gobble first thing in the morning like the roosters, which is a sound I actually rejoice in each morning.
Before my alarm even goes off.
Because apparently I’m a raging masochist.
But if they did I’d love them still.
I’d like to have a word, Mr. President.
I’d like to have many, actually, but I’ll whittle it down to this one little piece of constructive feedback, which is unlikely to arouse the ire of any Just For Men spokesmen/flying monkeys (though we are living in 2020, which is apparently that awkward liminal space between Golden Years and End of Days, so anything goes I suppose):
You don’t need to pardon what’s never done anything wrong in its entire, divine life.
You can’t absolve what’s never sinned.
So let’s not get waylaid on yet another random, meandering dead end in the hedge maze that is American politics.
Go ahead and pardon the turkeys if you must, but know that they have nothing to be exonerated of in the first place.
And lets get to work, then, straight away, on making sure we all have a family to sit down to dinner with next Thanksgiving.
Please and thank ya.