November 23, 2009
Thanksgiving is like communism: great in theory but often ugly in execution. Of course, the same could be said of Christianity, but that holiday is still a month away, so we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, should we? As far as Turkey Day, though, there’s plenty of room for improvement. For starters, the iconography could use a little dressing up. Pilgrims and turkeys. Really? Do we have to choose between religious zealots and birds with a built-in death wish? Both seem to be overly eager to meet their maker, so one can assume they don’t spend a lot of time counting blessings. On the other hand, walking around in high-heeled buckle shoes or with a snood and wattle hanging off your face surely brings some low points. Think about it. If you had to spend the rest of your life as a Pilgrim, you’d probably buy a box of razor blades and start drawing a warm bath. Similarly, if you had to walk around with grizzled, pulpy pieces of flesh hanging off your nose and chin, you might eventually find yourself standing on a folding chair with a noose around your neck. You get the feeling that when a turkey first saw a Pilgrim raising his blunderbuss, he leaned toward the muzzle, thinking, “Bless you kind sir, this goddamned snood was making me cross-eyed!” More than likely, the Pilgrim turned the blunderbuss on himself first, because when your one big feast of the year features turkey as its centerpiece, you’re probably eager to shuffle off your own mortal coil. Regardless of how reasonable that scenario sounds, we can only assume that turkeys are suicidal. We can’t be absolutely sure. After all, turkeys are rumored to be stupid, and ignorance is bliss. The Pilgrims might have been suicidal as well, but they were too busy fending off disease, pestilence, wild animals, and peace-loving American Indians to take reasonable stock of their situation. In fact, it is within the realm of possibility that any Pilgrim who survived more than six months of that brutish existence was pissing himself with glee … if only because he had the option of choosing a better exit than having his head used as a chew toy by a mountain lion. This, in essence, is the philosophical foundation of the Thanksgiving – the part that works. Every once in a while it’s good to take a quiet moment and reflect on how things could be much, much worse. It’s easy enough, just let your imagination run wild. If your life actually got as bad as you can imagine it could be, you’d be absolutely giddy at the thought of eating dried fish, turkey, and yams with Squanto. However, in the real world it’s hard to keep your eyes on the rhetorical punishment. Sometimes just sitting down with your relatives and hogging on some Butterball can seem like the seventh level of hell, when in reality it’s not nearly as bad as say, being torn to pieces by bloodthirsty hyenas or, a little closer to home, being waterboarded at Gitmo. It’s all a matter of contrast, really, and if you can bend your mind into a decent hypothetical perspective, you’ll probably find that you’re living fat and happy – though you might want to take care of that toenail fungus situation. Maybe you can drop by the drug store on your way back from the 19th annual ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot, which starts at Waterloo Park at 9:30am on Thanksgiving Day. Not only is the Turkey Trot a great way to feel better about the orgy of gluttony and sloth the modern Thanksgiving has become, it’s also a great way to meet a lot of ostensibly healthy people and see what they look like when they’re sweating. Most importantly, it’s a relatively easy and fun way give back to the community, because the race proceeds go to Caritas of Austin, an organization that fights hunger, homelessness, and poverty in the Austin area.