Another Turkey Under the Belt


“Where’s the damn thermometer?”

I hovered over the turkey carcass like an EMT on a crash site, ready to administer CPR. I’d just pulled the bird, a mere 12-pounder, out of the oven after 3-1/2 hours of roasting. I had my doubts as to whether it was fully cooked. Usually, the appendages pull free of the body with an easy twist, like the arms and legs from a napalm victim. But these were holding fast, refusing to turn our holiday feast into a quadruple poultry amputee.

I heard the bathroom door open down the hall, and a moment later Rusty strode into the kitchen, holding up the meat thermometer in front of him like Arthur holding a sword he’d just pulled from a rock.

“Check it out, 98.6 exactly,” he announced.

“Oh my god,” said Barb, snatching the thermometer from his grasp. “We can’t use this now. I’ll have to run it through the autoclave.” Fortunately, the people we’d bought the house from left an autoclave in the garage. I replaced the foil parachute over the top of the turkey and shoved the pan back into the oven. I cranked it from 325 to 375, and told the kids that dinner was going to be a little late. “Have another can of olives. It’s gonna be another hour till Thanksgiving.”

Eating Turkey

Either the skin is overdone, or I’m eating the price tag.

I’m not sure where I went wrong. Fifteen minutes per pound, twelve pound bird, three hours, right? But in retrospect I think maybe the son of a hen wasn’t completely thawed. That was difficult to accept, since I’d had it under the hood of a running car for almost an hour that morning.

But eventually the thing reached the proper temperature, and I made my annual stab at carving it. I’m no veterinarian, so I don’t know much about turkey anatomy, bone structure, or which way the “grain” runs in the meat. So when I carve it up, we usually end up with a fuzzy pile of turkey scraps, the largest of which is no bigger than a quarter. But by the time I brought the platter of turkey to the table, everyone was so hungry that they probably would have scarfed down a platter of Vienna sausages. And they’re boneless.

Of course, we had the usual Thanksgiving fare to go with the turkey. I’d stirred up a big pan of giblet gravy, about two gallons worth, and we wound up eating every last drop. This is one gravy-lovin’ household. I’d checked the Joy of Cooking to get the proper oven temp, and they had this to say about gravy:

“A generous helping of giblet gravy will make even the driest slab of breast meat palatable. If you tend to solve all of your problems via sauce, read no further.”

Well, that little statement was even drier than the turkey, but I didn’t let the snotty author stop me from applying that floury nectar to pretty much everything on my plate.

Carved Turkey

And that, my friends, is how to perform a turkey autopsy. Cause of death: being too delicious to live.

At our Thanksgiving table, we’ve adopted Barb’s family’s tradition of joining hands, and going around the table taking turns saying what we’re thankful for. Sheer hunger and mashed potato lust keep anyone from being too long-winded, but that still doesn’t stop the occasional inappropriate statement from escaping somebody’s lips.

Me: “I’m thankful that my herpes is in remission. Next?”

Rusty: “I’m thankful that the meat thermometer is only six inches long.”

Barb: “I’m thankful that Febreze now comes in a gallon jug.”

Speaker: “I’m thankful that I found an EDM station on satellite radio.”

Me: “That reminds me—I’m thankful the liquor store is open on Thanksgiving.

And so on. We dug in and ate with unfettered relish (which you can only find at the Good Food Store) and enjoyed some decent wine, freewheeling conversation, and the warm, comfortable glow of a family that loves hanging out together. No one was admonished for his/her atrocious table manners, no one mentioned that the sweet potatoes looked like baby poop, no squabbles broke out over the last bread & butter pickle slice, and there was enough of everything to satisfy everyone at the table.

We all were asked to LARF (lick and retain fork) for dessert, and Barb cleared away the dinner plates while I unbuckled my belt, sat back and lit a metaphorical cigar. While she and the kids loaded the dishwasher and got out the plates for the pumpkin pie, I had the dining room momentarily to myself and took the opportunity to reflect on my full and satisfying life, and the amazing people I share my house with. I also took the opportunity to charge the atmosphere with some chair-scorching dark meat farts. After a couple of healthy window-rattlers, the dog got up and left the room.

Ah, yes. It’s good to be king.

   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.


Have an off-white Christmas with Bob Wire.Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.


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