As a jack-o’-lantern who’s managed to survive decades of Halloweens by avoiding and/or outsmarting tricksters with airborne pumpkins on their minds, who’s also successfully stayed away from the pie tin on Thanksgiving, I can relate with Tom Turkey (no relation to Tom the Turkey Terror, a turkey who goes after and eats those giving thanks via bird consumption). Tom Turkey, like me, has also managed to avoid his fate on his respective holiday.
The two of us -- pumpkin and turkey -- recently sat down at a nondescript coffee shop in a small town, which I’m unable to disclose due to reasons related to Tom’s safety at this time of year, and we discussed the holiday season, Tom’s secret for burning calories, Black Friday and more.
I arrived at the coffee shop 15 minutes early. Tom wasn’t there yet. I recognized faces from the crime pages of newspapers long ago-- the place is most likely the witness protection program’s dumping ground for criminal America. Many turkeys and even jack-o’-lanterns I hadn’t seen since the early 1900s were also living protected lives here.
Tom walked in six minutes before or scheduled interview. He was talking to himself.
“Heather, does my waddle look straight?” he said to no one I could make out.
Tom sat down, ordered a coffee and a parfait, and we got down to it.
Jack-o’-Lantern Press: I couldn’t help but overhear what you were saying as you walked in. So who’s Heather?
Tom Turkey: She’s my right-hand feather, handles all my appearances after that near disaster on ‘The Emeril’ show. How was I supposed to know he had a new deep fryer that he wanted me to try?
JLP: Yikes. How old are you, Tom?
TT: Wait, what? Are you carding me? I’m legal. See? Here’s my I.D. (Goes into his feathers.) Here it is. I know it doesn’t look like me, but who takes a good picture at the DMV?
JLP: Where do you come from and where do you reside?
TT: I come from a nest in Iowa. Just a small town bird living in a lonely world. Right now I’m in hiding. If I tell your readers where, my goose is cooked, metaphorically speaking.
JLP: What do you do for a living?
TT: I’m a butcher. (Laughs.) Kidding. I’m really an accountant, but you’d be surprised how many people fall for that butcher line.
JLP: What is your biggest challenge this Thanksgiving season?
TT: (Breaks into song.) Stayin’ alive, ah-ha, ah-ha, stayin’ aliiiiive. Love that tune. Great for dancing, which is also a great way to burn off all those extra calories after Thanksgiving, by the way. Want to see some of my moves?
JLP: Sure. (Tom gets out of the booth, dances.) That’s great. So how have you been able to escape the turkey platter in the past?
TT: (Sits back down, tries to catch his breath.) That’s (takes breath) classified (takes another breath) information (takes a few more breaths). How do I know you aren’t an informant for a factory farm? Tell you this, though, they don’t call me The Gobbler for nothing.
JLP: How will you fend off the turkey carvers this year?
TT: I started a petition asking the President (of the United States) for a pardon. I offered to send the First Lady my Vegducken recipe, too. Maybe she’ll put in a good word.
JLP: Do you enjoy this time of year at all?
TT: Love those Black Friday sales. I just claw my way to the front of the line. Don’t even think about trying to beat me out of that 100-inch flat screen. Then it’s home to watch football, although, unless I put my glasses on, I keep thinking they’re passing Uncle Frank across the field. We lost him last year. Talk about a fowl.
JLP: What’s your favorite time of year -- if not this time of year -- and what do you do for fun/where do you go for fun?
TT: Easter. No one eats turkey for Easter so we can sit back and chug chocolate eggs with the bunny without having to keep a lookout for some maniac with a carving knife. Sometimes we play a little ‘Duck, Duck, Goose.’ Our favorite vacation spot is Turkey. We fit right in there.
JLP: What do you eat on Thanksgiving?
TT: I’m partial to a good Waldorf salad. Seriously, we always get a nice honey-baked ham. Might not be good for you, but we can’t be eating cousin Mable now, can we? Although, after she got sloshed last year, the thought did occur. For the vegetarians in the crowd, we make a nice Tofurky, but we don’t even want to pretend we’re cannibals. Heather says we have to call it ‘tofu with the flavors of fall’ to be PC. We wash it down with Wild Turkey -- no relation.
JLP: OK, so I’m gonna fire off some questions like James Lipton from ‘Inside the Actors Studio.’ Here we go. What’s your favorite color?
TT: Purple. Was that a trick question? Do you think all turkeys like the same color? That just ruffles my feathers.
JLP: What’s your favorite word?
TT: Dessert. In our language it means the carnage is over.
JLP: What’s your least favorite word?
TT: Two words -- meat thermometer. I also really detest the phrase ‘gobble gobble gobble.’ It’s a really demeaning stereotype. We’re strict followers of Miss Manners and Emily Post.
JLP: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
TT: Super Turkey. My feathers double as a cape and you don’t even want to be in my way if I leap at you from a tall building.
JLP: What profession would you not want to attempt?
TT: Let’s face it -- being a ballerina would be embarrassing. I really don’t have the body for it.
JLP: If Turkey Heaven exists, what would you like to hear the Turkey Gods say when you arrive at the Turkey Gates?
TT: That is such a common misperception. There is no such thing as Turkey Heaven. We go to the same one you do. Which means you might have some ‘splaining to do since y’all are responsible for us arriving there first.
JLP: I’m proud to say I’ve never had turkey. I stick to candle wax. So is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
TT: Don’t forget, when you cut into cousin Rufus, you say ‘Delicious,’ we say, ‘Call the undertaker.’ And please, they call it Stove Top Stuffing for a reason -- no need to be putting it up our you-know-whats.
JLP: Tom, it’s been a pleasure talking with you. I know you’re not really a monster, but, being a talking turkey, we figured the monster readership of the world would recognize you as a supernatural being of some sort. I find you quite fascinating.