During my childhood, I had my fair share of unwanted pursuers. In elementary school, there was Jackie Smith who decided I was the one for him after I wore my cat costume to the school Halloween party. He followed me home that day, repeatedly complimenting me on my tail, much to my embarrassment. He waited outside for me, and my tail, until my father had to tell him to leave. For years afterwards, my family taunted me, telling me that they liked my tail, regardless of whether or not I was wearing said tail.
There was Big Randy in junior high who used to sneak gifts into my bag on a daily basis. He mainly gave me odds and ends from around his home, his mother's earrings, an ALF eraser, a fake flower...You know the normal things one wants to receive in junior high from someone named Big Randy. Once I walked around school for half a day with cans of Surge in my backpack before I realized the extra load was a 6 pack of sugary drink expressing Big Randy's affections.
As unsettling as these events were for me during my tender years, none of these stalkers were as traumatizing as the year I was stalked by pursuer of a different type. One could try to reason with Jackie and Big Randy, one could escape from them into the safety of one's own home. They were merely annoying. 1988 brought a whole new type of stalker. This was the year I was hunted by the turkeys.
I was six years old the year the wild turkeys came to town. Some of the local town folk must have thought that it was appealing to have giant wild fowl in their backyard, so they began to feed the turkeys. These turkeys called up all their little turkey friends, telling them about the free chow that was being left for them and soon there was a whole posse of feral turkeys living in our small town.
.The turkeys become more and more bold and they eventually set up their camp outside of my house, even though my family was not supplying them any meals. Giant bird poop on our sidewalks agitates my neat and tidy father so he was not about to provide them with more ammo. As you can tell from previous posts, I am normally an animal lover, however birds have never really been on my list of animals that I find endearing, and it soon became apparent that turkeys are treacherous creatures to be feared. I am not sure whether the turkeys wanted revenge on my family for not feeding them as our clueless neighbors were doing, or if they simply could sense that their looming birdiness caused me great anxiety and thought it would be fun to toy with me. What I do know is that the turkeys were shockingly repellent and they were after me.
In the morning, the turkey gang would wait on top of Father's red school van. Father would run for the van, using his brief case to ward off unwanted turkey pecks. Once safely inside the van, he would speed off down the street as fast as the red van could go. The turkeys were up for the challenge. They dug their turkey talons into the top of the red van and held on as Father flew through the neighborhoods, swerving and hitting the brakes, trying to knock those detestable birds off. Once Father parked at school, he would have to take cover with the briefcase again and race for the building, turkeys flailing around him, trying to inflict maximum harm.
The turkeys would find their way back to the house, just in time for my brother and I to leave for school. My brother would put on his battle face and sacrifice himself to give me a head start, fighting off the turkeys with his backpack. When he told me to save myself, I didn't argue. If he wanted to die with honor, I was going to allow it.
The turkeys began to arm themselves. Until this point, I had never seen an animal manipulate a slingshot, let alone with such accuracy. They showed up at my school events, waiting for me in the parking lot, pinging me with gravel. They called repeatedly on the phone and didn't say anything, but I knew it was them as I could hear faint gobbles in the background. When playing outside with friends, the turkeys would sneak up on us and we would have to scurry to the hood of nearest parked car and bellow for help until my brother would fight the turkeys long enough for us to get inside to safety. The turkeys were everywhere.
I faced each day with great anxiety until one day, the turkeys were gone. The town was divided by this new development. Those who were angered by the disappearance of the turkeys were the half wits who had been feeding these maniacal creatures. The rest of us with sound minds, who had prayed nightly for our deliverance from the turkeys, rejoiced in the streets. I never found out for sure what happened to the them, though at school I heard rumors of bird carcasses being cleaned off the roads in the wee hours of the morning. I suspect my parents thought I would be upset to hear how the birds were destroyed, since I was such an animal rights activist. They were wrong. I wanted the gruesome details of the demon birds' demise. Every last detail.
This Thanksgiving, I will be thankful for gallant brothers who protect their little sisters from predators and that the only turkey in my life is the one that has been cooked lovingly by my mother.