Thanksgiving is a time when we pause to gratefully eat large amounts of food in memory of the Pilgrims, a band of courageous and deeply devout people, unless it turns out that they were dirtbags.
You never know anymore. Historians are constantly turning up shocking new evidence proving that everything you ever learned in school was wrong. For example, historians now tell us that the electric light bulb was not, in fact, invented by Alexander Graham Bell. It was invented 3,000 years ago by the Aztecs. And of course Columbus did not "discover" America. Historians now believe that Columbus in fact never left Italy, and was not even born until 1921.
So for all we know the Pilgrims were snake-worshiping vampires. But we should celebrate Thanksgiving anyway, because it gives us a chance to eat turkey with our loved ones and large colonies of potentially fatal bacteria if we have not cooked our turkey properly. This is why we need to be aware of the various turkey-advice hot lines, including the Butterball Turkey Talk Line, (800) 323-4848, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hot Line, (800) 535-4555.
Both hot lines are staffed by trained home economists, who each year guide thousands of panicky people through the turkey-cooking process. It's like in those old movies where the airline flight crew gets sick, and a terrified passenger has to try to land the plane, guided by radioed instructions. ("Pull back on the throttle! You're coming in too high! Now wiggle the drumstick! It should move easily!")
I spoke to the head home economist at the USDA hot line, Susan Conley, who said the hardest part of the job is advising people that, because of improper preparation, their turkeys should be used for something other than dinner, such as landfill. "It's a difficult situation," she said. "The turkey is the emotional focus of the entire day."
This is true. I have here a wire service news item sent in by many alert readers last November headlined "Man Charged in Attack With Frozen Turkey." According to the article, an Oklahoma man spent part of Thanksgiving Day in jail after he allegedly got angry because his turkey was not defrosted. So, apparently unaware of the Butterball Turkey Talk Line, he threw the turkey, along with a pie, into the parking lot of his apartment complex, then broke his car windshield with it, then threatened his wife with it.
And this is not the only instance of poultry being used as a weapon. The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch printed a news item, also sent in by many alert readers, concerning the arrest of a man who allegedly walked into a Franklin County savings and loan, ordered the teller, at gunpoint, to give him cash, and then "placed a stuffed duck on the counter."
"The man warned the teller that the small yellow duck, which had an antenna sticking from its head, was a remote-control explosive device," the story states. The robber said that if he heard any alarms, he would set off the duck.
Fortunately it turned out to be just an ordinary stuffed duck. But animal weapons are not always harmless, as can be seen by an Associated Press story, sent in by still more alert readers, stating that a pizza-delivery man in Balch Springs, Texas, was -- I swear I am not making this up -- "robbed of about $50 by two thieves armed with a snapping turtle."
"That sucker was going to bite me," the man is quoted as saying. "They put him right up to my face."
I personally have had a deep respect for snapping turtles ever since the summer of 1957, when I was a camper at Camp Sharparoon and we swam in a murky lake containing a snapping turtle named Big John who was so large that legally he should have had navigational lights. Whenever we went swimming, some joker would shout, "Big John!" and we'd all shoot out of the water like Polaris missiles.
Anyway, my concern, after this Balch Springs incident, is that more criminals will start packing turtles, which are quieter than guns and harder to pick up with metal detectors. I'm particularly worried that New York City youth gangs might start using snapping turtles, leading to the danger that some turtles might escape and mate with the albino alligators in the New York sewer system. Although historians now tell us that these are actually crocodiles.