Let's Barry Thanksgiving

By John "Birdman" Bryant


Note: This will appear in the second edition of my book Barryations: John Bryant Kicks Butt on Dave Barry's Turf. And when will that be? I'll tell you: When I get around to it.

Well, My God! Here it is Thanksgiving again and we have barely finished the roast turkey from last year! I am kidding, of course, but somehow the taste of leftover turkey has a way of staying with you thruout the year -- kind of gets under your fingernails and smells up your underwear -- until the hands of the old calendar on the wall have cranked around to Next Thanksgiving, and, Oh Brudder, How in God's name can we eat that shit again?

Well, you know, I have an answer to that which is very simple, and can be understood by the smallest toddler in our family (who I believe is about 37 now). And that solution is -- drum roll, please, and NO, NOT MORE OF THE GODDAMNED TURKEY ROLL -- we don't EAT any turkey. In fact, we don't even get within a country mile of dressing, cranberry sauce, or that perfect method of decorating the face of whoever is carving the turkey or saying grace, to wit, pumpkin pie. In fact, have you ever thought why -- even employing bribery -- you can't find a pumpkin pie except right on the cusp of Thanksgiving? That's because, in the good old greedy capitalist free- market system you can't even give the fuckers away except at Thanksgiving, when tradition overcomes taste, common sense, and that certain feeling of overwhelming nausea. And even then, you have to be mighty careful of how much you serve, or else you are going to get some schmuck who is going to have a second or third piece, and then -- BRAAAATTTT!!! -- he's going to give you back most of your meal right on the carpet.

Now the thing you have to understand about Thanksgiving is that it is really one of those out-of-place traditions that harkens back to the days when we all tilled the soil, and were damned glad to see those pumpkins growing in the field, because, except for a few that would last the winter in the root cellar, you had to eat them then, only then, and nothing but then. And you also had to eat your big Tom Turkey, whom you had been fattening up with scraps since last spring or whenever, and you had worked up a pretty good appetite, since you didn't get that kind of meat except once a year, and you could actually appreciate it. But nowadays, with scientific farming and all, where you can import turkeys from South America and Sri Lanka the year around, and where the closest you ever come to farming is trimming back your philodendron, the Harvest Festival means about as much as Martin Luther Coon day, where we celebrate as hero someone who was actually a communist, plagiarist and liked to have two white women in bed with him at once, presumably to help him pray better (Oh, Jesus save me, Martin, you're putting it RIGHT UP MY ASS!!!).

But if this isn't bad enuf, even the First Thanksgiving was a fraud -- even if you don't count that the Pilgrims learned from the Indians how to grow corn, and then to thank them for their trouble, those ever-so-religious Pilgrims ran them off their land. What I mean is that the First Thanksgiving came only after a year of Religious Socialism in which nobody owned anything, so nobody did a lick of work, and there was approximately nothing to show for all that hard sitting around. But the Second Thanksgiving was different, because even a Religious Socialist can see that his stomach is empty, so once everybody was assigned property, they had something to work for, so instead of acting like a bunch of turkeys, they actually started raising some. But of course you don't hear anything about the Second Thanksgiving in the publik skools, since it conflicts with the Socialist Paradigm, and buddy can you paradigm? And what is more, I am not making this up!

Which brings me to another thing that I am not making up, and which makes me have second (and third and fourth and fifth) thoughts about eating turkey. Now bring your ear over here and let me ask you in all solemnity, Did you ever hear of a turkey milker? Well let me tell you an intimate fact about Tom -- his breast is so big that he can't actually make it with the girls any more. So to prevent this from bringing the existence of turkeys to a screeching halt, turkey farms have hired sex perverts called turkey milkers who do a turkey jerk and then hand-carry it over to the females, where they then complete yet a second perverted act. So if you want to know why Mamma can roast a 20 or 30 or 40 pound turkey for you and all your little snot-nosed offspring, then keep in mind that it is only because we are willing to perform the most degrading acts possible on poor innocent animals -- and for that matter, on ourselves. Is this the result of America's love affair with turkey titty? (That's turkey breast to you, Jackoff.)

Now don't get me wrong -- I'm no luddite. I love computers as well as the next nerd, and in fact couldn't get along without them. But there is a serious problem with the concept of turkey milking, and while it comes out as an emotional revulsion, the real import is that it is a risk to society. What I mean is, when we are dependent on technology for the basic functions of life, then when some little glitch like Y2K comes along, it threatens to bring down the whole house of cards. Or to put it another way, the more we depend on technology -- and the more we can't get along without it -- then the more unstable our existence becomes because the greater the risk that some technological bug can put an end to the technology we are so dependent on.

Let me tell you what really scares the shit out of me. At one time, most of us used to be farmers. Both my grandfathers were farmers, in fact. But my parents never learned to farm -- never learned the skills from their parents which represented not merely a lifetime of experience, but the skills accumulated by an entire culture of farming. Which means that, if we had to go back to raising our own food today, we wouldn't know the first thing about what to do. Wouldn't know how to plow, where to get seed or what to use, how to rope a steer or cut the balls off a hog -- hell, we probably wouldn't even know how to milk a turkey. In just one generation we have lost our link with the land, and we are standing here naked, waiting for Y2k or some Mideast crazy with a vial of anthrax to come along and put an end to life as we know it.

And there's another thing, too. Bill Clinton and his henchmen are trying to move people off the land -- the few that remain, that is. Trying to tie up land in federal hands by the Wild Rivers laws and a lot of other eco- freak proposals that will put even more land under the control of the Feds, who already own a third of America outright. And you know what that means? It means that farmland that people struggled to clear is now going to go back to trees -- which may be very nice to harvest, but which leave lots of tree stumps that our ancestors removed only with tons of back-breaking labor. And which -- if the Clintonistas have their way -- won't even be removable because vehicles will be banned, fuel prices will be sky-high, and armed agents of the Forest Service will shoot you on sight for threatening the environment of the spotted shiteater.

But turkey milking is really only a very small part of the picture. What about the 'veal' that we buy in the store, which has been created by keeping young animals in tiny cages where they can't even turn around? What about farm-factory chickens that are also kept in tiny cages with beaks clipped so they can't peck one another -- or groom themselves, as normal birds do? And what about food plants, some genetically engineered with who-knows-what-inbred-Frankensteinisms, but most raised on a diet of chemicals that make them sound inedible even if they aren't quite yet. My point is that agriculture has gone from a connection of man with his land into a technological nightmare which is not only cruel and perverted, but dangerous to the continued existence of the human species, to say nothing of non-human ones. But don't get me wrong -- I'm no fan of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or its blitheringly-idiotic spokesman Peter Singer, who considers it cruel to use animals for food and the like -- after all, most animals would never have come into existence in the first place if some farmer hadn't wanted them, and if life has any value, the PETA people ought to be hailing farmers instead of giving them hell.

Now have I lost my sense of humor because I feel so deeply about these things? Well, not entirely, because every Thanksgiving I make it a point NOT to have turkey and dressing, so nobody can say I didn't do my part. And it really isn't -- as you might expect -- because my family never invited me over for turkey and trimmings -- they did sometimes, and sometimes I even accepted. But the basic problem was never turkey and trimmings -- it was rather that -- let's face it -- people are so goddamned BORING. Especially those in your own family, because you've heard all their stories, and, really, most of them are not particularly interesting to begin with. I mean, most people hold the theory that, Gee, won't it be wonderful to get together with family and friends because, gee, these are people you already know, people you share things with, people who are friendly, etc, etc, etc. But the ugly fact -- which everybody knows, but which they don't allow to interfere with their theory -- is that anybody who has been to a few family-or-friends get-togethers knows that the theory is a goddamned lie. The ugly reality is that what you have at these shindigs is a bunch of people seething with resentments -- parents spurned by their children, children who resent their meddling parents, relatives who can't keep their nose out of other people's business, friends hustling other friends, and so on. Well, when these people sit down to eat with one another -- especially when most of them have a little liquor under their belt -- then it usually doesn't take long before things begin to get hot under the choler.

So let's get down to the nitty-gritty -- what are friendships all about? What kind of environment produces gemutlich? It's very simple, if you think about it. Friendship is not about sitting around and trading boring remarks about the weather or the latest football scores. It is not even about being in the same family, or having shared the same foxhole. Rather, friendship is about doing things together. When you're doing things with someone, there is a dynamic which is absent in all other cases. It may only be that you share a tennis game with someone on Thursdays, or it may be that you enjoy someone because of your horizontal activities, or it may even be that you and the other person both feel yourselves a part of some larger movement to save the world; but the point is that there is something active going on between you and the other someone that brings you together. Yes, you may feel good feelings in being with guys you have grown up with or shared a foxhole with, but good feelings are not much more than recounting stories of how a screaming missile passing overhead made all of you shit in your pants -- and how many laughs can you get out of retelling that one? Friendship is not drinks together at a reunion, or an exchange of presents or cards on holidays; rather it is a shared activity or purpose which makes people a help to each other.

You know, it's funny, but when I was a kid it used to bother me a lot that I hated parties and socializing (my mother was a great party-giver -- in fact, when she asked my father why he married her, he told her because she was pretty and because she was a good hostess, and I am NOT making this up! Needless to say, my mother was a bit steamed, having read all those romantic stories about love and thinking that it had something to do with her marriage, but then how naive can you get?) And on top of that, my father was one of the world's greatest talkers -- and I mean he could stand shoulder to shoulder with any woman and yack just as competently, tho he preferred to talk politics rather than babies, hairstyles and the tabloids. So like I said, it used to worry me that I didn't like to sit around and talk about boring stuff, which of course was just about all my folks talked about. But finally, after years of soul-searching, it finally dawned on me that there was no reason for me to feel guilty about disliking boring people, boring conversations, boring parties, and everything else which could properly be placed under the rubric of boring-boring-BORING, and thus a great weight was lifted from the tiny shoulders of a once-very-confused little boy.

And that, let me tell you, is one hell of a great reason for being thankful this Thanksgiving -- and in fact every frigging day -- that I do not have to deal with people who are boring-boring-BORING. Which of course doesn't include being thankful for not having to eat any more of that GOD-DAMNED TURKEY!

* * Back to the Home Page of John "Birdman" Bryant, the World's Most Controversial Author * *