If you ever see me and Marilyn on Dr. Phil, we will be discussing one thing: turkeys.
For Marilyn, the time beginning before Thanksgiving and running through Christmas is “turkey season.” This is when vast quantities of what Ben Franklin nominated to be our national bird show up in supermarkets. Whole turkeys are more difficult to find at other times of the year, especially at the cheap, promotional prices offered during the holidays.
Marilyn and I recently stood before a huge rectangular case of frozen turkeys, their rounded, white-plastic-covered carcasses gleaming under a bank of florescent lights.
“Where else can you get this much meat for 47 cents a pound!” Marilyn exclaimed, eyes aglow with that crazed look common to kamikaze pilots and Scientologists.
And so it begins.
There are people who are minimalists and there are people who embrace abundance. I am one of the former, Marilyn is one of the latter, and if there is any way in which our mutual compatibility has been tested over the years, it is this.
I am not exactly like the Buddhist monk who goes around with nothing more than the clothes on his back and a bowl for food. But left to my own devices I would live in a house where material objects are on the sparser side, where I would probably know everything I own and where it was.
But we do not live in that sort of house because, over time, life’s cornucopia has spilled forth upon us. Or, in the words of Marilyn’s sister, “You guys have a LOT of stuff.” Besides turkeys, Marilyn has some other -- ahem -- areas of interest. She has been known, for example, to appreciate the occasional objet d'art. And I am pleased to report that we have no shortage of towels. But her most passionate interest is books, a category that, like the universe, is ever expanding and has no end.
My only obsession is CDs, which I am forever pointing out take up almost no room around here. OK, that and stereo equipment. I have a component system in the living room, a bookshelf system in the kitchen, a portable stereo in the eBay room, a portable stereo in the library, and a component system in the bedroom, complete with two sets of speakers, which is connected to a large television. I argue that the latter is something of a home theater. Marilyn does not entirely believe me yet.
And we do have a couple areas of common interest: One is kitchen knives, gadgets, and pots and pans. Another is cats. There is a very thin line of sanity that we dare not cross when it comes to cat collecting. So, after our Pyewacket died in 2006, we decided to get just two, to keep each other company. But since cats are contraindicated in bone marrow transplant patients, and since I am headed that way in a few years, we are holding off and may volunteer to foster cats for the animal shelter instead. We need our fix.
But I digress. It is turkey season. Minimalist me would buy one turkey, enjoy it for the week it takes to eat it, and be done with it. Marilyn would buy enough turkeys so that we could build a small pyramid and worship Gobblor, the Lord of Poultry.
The real issue -- to me anyway -- is carrying capacity. We have one refrigerator/freezer. If we also had a chest freezer, I’d have no problem with indulging in turkeys. But we don’t. Space is limited. Turkeys are large. (Marilyn figures a 22-pound turkey has more meat than a 12-pound turkey and that once you’re prepping the bird, it’s not that much harder to prep a big one.)
We entered turkey season this year with one large turkey already in the freezer. It dates, I believe, from 2005. Then, not long ago, we won a turkey at the local natural foods store. Into the freezer it went. This required some rearranging and cramming.
“Don’t block the air vent in the back!” I blustered.
It is my argument that two turkeys in the freezer means that much less space for anything else. And given the rate at which we eat turkeys -- one a year, pretty much -- we are using precious room to store something that just doesn’t get et.
Now, in Marilyn’s mind’s eye we are always enjoying a delicious roast turkey. But she forgets that making said turkey is a long process. There is the four-day Defrosting, then T day itself: The Cleaning of the Innards, the Making of the Stuffing, the Cramming of the Stuffing, and the Emplacement of the Little Metal Spikes in the skin to hold the stuffing in the cavities. This is followed by the Enracking and the hours and hours of cooking.
Then there is the midway Turning -- keep it breast-side down the first half of cooking time and you get a turkey with juicy breast meat, but you need to turn it breast-side up to get a nicely browned breast. This means that halfway through yours truly must don the most heat-proof gloves available and lift said monster turkey, which is hot and has tiny, sharp metal things sticking out of it like a porcupine. The turkey must come off the rack without sticking to the rack or getting a leg caught in the rack, and then it must be turned over without dropping. This can be done but it is something that I look forward to like visiting the dentist.
Now, four days after this process, having finished yet another turkey dinner, and after a third glass of champagne, Marilyn has been known to say things like: “This was an easy meal seeing how much food we’ve gotten out of it.”
In an alcohol-induced glaze, I sometimes find myself agreeing. But why, then, do we not do it more often?
So, at last count we had two turkeys in the freezer. Rather than being satisfied, this only opened the door to Marilyn’s obsession. When she found out that our favorite grocery store had turkeys for 47 cents a pound, we had an argument. It was settled by a roll of the dice. She won, and so we found ourselves standing in front of the frozen case.
And we now have a third turkey -- weighing in at 22.74 pounds, the heavyweight champeen of the world! -- slowly defrosting in the refrigerator. Marilyn was tempted to get a fourth turkey but took pity on me.
My argument that there is no way two people can eat all the meat on a 22-pound turkey falls on deaf ears.
Did I mention that Marilyn doesn’t eat dark meat?
Calling Dr. Phil . . .
Marilyn and I and all our turkeys wish you a happy holiday season! See you in 2008.
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