Actually, I don’t have a thing against turkeys. Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey for the national bird of the United States, saying that it was, compared to the Bald Eagle, “a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”
The je m’en fous issue here is why people drive and fly endless, grueling miles every November, to eat turkey and other stodgy and cloying foods in the company of people they, more often than not, detest and avoid throughout the year — meanwhile feigning family feeling and a sort of phantom gratitude for something or other, if only they could think of it, give them a moment.
I have had it with compulsory gaiety and prescribed group emotion — I’m so on the same page with a client whose favorite holiday is Flag Day (“no one does much about it except to put out a flag and leave me alone”). Thanksgiving is the worst: families are the major cause of mental illness, to quote Donald G. Smith, so why do people put themselves through an ordeal to be cooped up with them in cold weather, exhausting themselves with cooking or suffering from dyspepsia? Virtually everyone approaches Thanksgiving with the mien of captives making the best of a gratuitous, draining ritual, everyone afraid to be the first to utter the glorious monosyllable NO.
Even if you refuse to play this game, it means two or three days when a person with ordinary everyday needs knows that the local grocery will be pandemonium; when roads and airports are places to dread; it means a day of closed stores and banks followed by a day of consumer frenzy, so you better stock your larder and run your errands and get the hell off the road, beeyotch.
As I am a well known vegetarian, I get questions about Tofurky every goddam year; just one woman’s opinion, I’ve come across shot-puts more appetizing than the Tofurky roast with its vaguely mucoid bag of gravy. I long ago quit speaking to anyone related to me, one of the best decisions I ever made, and feel no urge to come together with others over a soybean cannonball.
So I brim with balmy delight when I reply that I am treating tomorrow as a simple day off when I can go to the gym, which is providently open till two, come home and eat a nice omelet or something like that, brush the cats, and catalogue the huge music collection left to me by my late half-crazy, sweet, unwashed little ex-husband.
One year America will come to its senses and boycott this holiday. Until then I can only hope to blaze the way. Maybe in a red coat pecked off some grenadier.