Sunday, August 14, 2011

'Taint Much Fun To Be A Turkey

(Reprinted from today's Times and News-Star)

Man the poor turkey just can’t catch a break. I’d almost rather be a catfish than a turkey, and the catfish gig’s no day at the park.

I was eating a Sloppy Joe, one of the world’s truly underrated and underappreciated foods, when someone brought up the most recent recalled meat fiasco – 34 million pounds of recalled turkey meat. “Tainted,” meat inspectors declare.

My mania for Sloppy Joes is such that this line of conversation did not bother me. The buns were soft, the secret sauce ingredient (Spicy Hot V8!) was kicking in, and the meat was, thank goodness, hamburger.

But between bites, I felt bad for mister turkey, and for several million of his brethren.

They have that stuff hanging from their necks. They walk funny. Talk funny. The beady eyes, the chinless stare. A turkey could be the only entry in a beauty pageant, and still come in eighth, tops.

As if the cards weren’t already stacked, my buddies in the National Wild Turkey Federation are dressing up like shrubs and hunting them even though the turkeys are – unless you count ‘ugly as a weapon – unarmed. They call the turkeys, then shoot them.

So the turkeys in the news this week are double losers. They get called, shot, cleaned, packaged, then RE-called.

Is it any wonder that a guy who’s tabbed “a turkey” is a dud. An inept loser. Dumb as a chisel.

Turkey’s a tough row to hoe.

So if all that’s not enough, 34 million pounds of bird that will never gobble again was recalled. Punched out for nothing. Spoiled by salmonella, a word I never heard growing up. If you’re a turkey, you just can’t win.

Caught up in these poultry-based current events, my friend Doctor Pickles gobbled, “Here’s a question: what number do you have to get to in the Tainted Meat Game before it’s recalled? Before it’s Big News? Eight pounds? Eight million pounds? Twenty mil? If it’s just one box at the Jitney Jungle, do you keep it quiet? How many turkeys have to go bad before somebody squeals?”

And how do you know it’s 34 million pounds? Was it really 52 million? 75 million? Who is the quality control person in charge of keeping up with millions of pounds of spread-out tainted turkey meat?

Larry at the Tainted Meat Department: “Man, 52 sounds like a lot.”
Joe: “Well, let’s make it 18.”
Larry: “18? Who in their right mind would believe 18? We can’t say 18 million pounds. What are you, crazy? Are you insane, with the 18?”
Joe: “I’m just sayin’!, for cryin’ out loud. Make it 36 then.”
Larry: “We’ll say 34.”
Joe: “Fine. 18. 36. 34. Whatever. Let’s break for lunch.”
Larry, opening his pail: “Dang. Turkey again…”

In the tainted turkey racket, nobody wins.

Never do I hear the phrase “tainted meat” that I don’t think of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” and the opening scene card game at the apartment of sportswriter Oscar Madison, who stares into his ice box and offers the guys some snacks during a break.

Oscar: “I got, uh, brown sandwiches and, uh, green sandwiches. Which one do you want?”
Murray: “What’s the green?”
Oscar: “It’s either very new cheese or very old meat.”
Murray: “I’ll take the brown.”-30-