The Turkey and the Teenage Girl

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was the end of the day on a Friday and we were being held at bay on a two-lane road by a turkey. The bird had wandered into the center of the road and was at this point straddling the yellow line and staring at us defiantly with his tail feathers fanned out in a magnificent arc. This was no goofy, aimless, head-bobbing turkey like you normally see in the Midwest; this turkey had a presence and, clearly, an ego.

There were four cars at a stand-still when I arrived and became number five. Every time someone tried to maneuver around the turkey, he would go nuts, rushing toward their car aggressively and pecking at the tires like a maniac. It was funny the first few times.

When two more cars arrived and stretched out the line of stalled traffic, one man finally got out and tried to shoo the turkey away by clapping his hands and hollering. This infuriated the bird, and he charged the man; the guy barely made it back into his car and got the door shut without being attacked. The turkey retaliated by pecking his tires even more violently than he’d pecked the tires of the other cars.

The driver of the car in front of me had finally had enough. She popped her car into park, sprang from the driver’s seat, and slammed the door shut. She must have been sixteen, but she looked younger. She was all skinny legs and spitfire, long straight hair flying back as she ran straight toward the turkey while waving both arms over her head and screaming. The turkey began to charge her just as he had the man before her, but this girl wasn’t having it. She doubled her velocity and screamed louder. The turkey folded, literally. He folded his tail feathers like a defeated poker player, lowered his head, and propelled himself into the woods in an impressive display of speed and aerodynamics.

The girl tossed her hair and rolled her eyes, visibly annoyed that none of the adults in this fiasco had been able to effectively shut it down. She ran back to her car without looking at any of us and slipped into the driver’s seat. The car lurched as she kicked it back into drive.

I smiled as I drove away, because — of course. Of course what we needed was a teenage girl. That turkey knew in his undersized brain what so many of us fail to apprehend: that there’s no force on earth like a teenage girl. Maybe we should stop worrying about their self esteems and their wardrobe choices and whether or not they can stand up to the boys. Maybe instead of wringing our hands and micro-managing, we should just get out of their way so they can chase off the turkeys on their own.

Written by

English professor and humor writer based in Green Bay. McSweeney’s, Points in Case, HuffPost, Slackjaw, Little Old Lady Comedy, Human Parts, others.

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