Sunday, April 2, 2017


OKINAWA, 1945--Bill Old, the old man who makes the famous turkey sandwiches at the diner I live near, is a young man, lacing up his boots for his first battle. Like many cooks, he's a compulsive whistler, and his trademark tune--"Turkey in the Straw"--gets sorrier and sorrier as the moment of truth approaches. Nick, his no-nonsense Brooklyn "frenemy" from boot camp, tells him as much.
"Sorry" says Bill. "I'm really trying to NOT whistle. It's just--well, you know how I get. "
"I sure do, Turkey" says Nick, in his mean yet good-natured way. Turkey is Bill's war nickname, because he's always whistling Turkey in the Straw (and because he likes turkey, but he's been playing that aspect of his personality up for effect). And now the nickname makes sense in a THIRD way, actually, because he's about to get shot at a bunch.
"From now on, I won't" says Bill. "I'll just yell, or something."
"Well, what the hell would we call you then?" says Nick.
"How about dead soldier #46032?"
Nick lets out a cackle. "Catchy" he says.
"Thanks" says Bill. "You can be my stupid dead friend."  
"I'm not here to make friends," says Nick.
"Well, why the hell did you join the army then?"  
THE COUVE, 2017--I'm at the diner, listening to Bill Old laugh at a joke he told 72 years ago while I eat a famous turkey sandwich. Bill's learned to love turkey, in the intervening years. Now it's a huge aspect of his personality.
"Good one" I say. (Man, this tense is getting annoying.) As I settle my bill I think, "I'm going to do my next blog post about turkeys." And then when I get home, I remember I have an audio clip of those turkeys that Meyers Leonard recorded while we were in The Euge! This thing's going to write itself.
Turkeys can be easily identified by their large, hand-shaped bodies, but even more easily identified by their gossipy gobbling. The ones in this recording, however, sound more like someone cleaning a mirror. They weren't doing the gobbles. (You know who did a great turkey gobble, incidentally? That creepy outlaw in the Coen Brothers' TRUE GRIT.) I did some research just now on the excellent Wild Turkey Foundation website (I know, I know, these were domesticated turkeys! What can you do) and it sounds like what we were dealing with here was a "plain yelp." Tight, huh?

1 comment: