Saturday, November 12, 2011

I desperately need to talk turkey

Originally posted by Tribune Media Services

Now that the Halloween decorations are back in storage and my Kit Kat hangover has subsided, I can turn my attention to a fantasy that has been swirling in my brain and won't go away.

I want to man the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line.

Why, you ask, would I want to spend Thanksgiving Day fielding phone calls from perplexed chefs thrust into the role of preparing this . . . thing that sits, half frozen, in a lukewarm, reddening pool of sink water? The answer is simple: I'm not cooking the turkey this year.

Yes, after years of struggling with obstinate birds (Question for Butterball: How can something dead be so uncooperative?), other relatives are taking on the challenge. This Thanksgiving, my wife and I will show up with the obligatory green bean/crunchy onion concoction. While our kids eat too much dip, we will sip chardonnay and listen to screams, tears and threats emanating from the kitchen. Glass in hand, I will wander in and say, "Can I help?" about 30 minutes after that question should have been asked.

Just thinking about this makes me happy. But I want to be REALLY happy. That's why I want to become a turkey hotline temp. According to the Butterball website, the line is staffed by "more than 50 professionally-trained, college-educated home economists and nutritionists." I don't have a background in nutrition or home economics, but I am college educated. And I have plenty of advice to give, gleaned from years of relatives such as Aunt Trudy (not her real name since she's still alive) hovering over me and offering "tips" such as "it looks a tad pink to me," "next year, tie the legs tighter" and "you're out of vodka." Mind you, all of these conversations occurred while I was holding a monstrous carving knife. Such is the beauty of Thanksgiving.

I just need to answer one phone call. When I hang up, I'm confident I will be laughing hysterically and eternally filled with joy, even if it's at the expense of some poor, first-time caller. Butterball, please consider the following dialogue my audition:

"Butterball Turkey Talk-Line. This is Greg. May I help you?"

"Hi, this is Emily from Seattle...

"Is it raining right now in Seattle?"

"Yes, but that's not why I'm calling. My turkey. . ."

"So it's raining and you botched up your turkey? Wow, I thought I was depressed."

"I didn't botch it up. At least I don't think I did. But it's been roasting for eight hours and it still doesn't look done."

"Eight hours? Hmm, let me check the manual. (LOUD RUSTLING OF PAGES) Oh, my God, Emily, GET OUT OF THE HOUSE NOW! AND GET YOUR AFFAIRS IN ORDER!!!

"Excuse me?"

"Just kidding. That makes everybody laugh around here. Marge in the next cubicle almost did a spit-take. Hey, can you check the football score for me? Butterball doesn't have TVs in this room."

"Um, it's 17-14, Cowboys."

"Excellent. Romo's on my fantasy team."

"Who cares? I need help. My relatives are starving and I don't know what to do."

"That's why you have side dishes, Emily. Want me to transfer you to the Green Bean/Crunchy Onion Hotline? Or the closest Domino's?"

"No, no, no! Look, the thermometer says 165. Is that sufficient?"

"Depends. Are we talking Fahrenheit or Celsius?"

"Fahrenheit! Why would I use a Celsius thermometer?"

"Maybe you have European relatives. The turkey's done, Emily. Take it out."

"OK, but now I need help carving. What kind of knife should I use?"

"Knife? Who uses knives? A simple karate chop should do. I once saw a guy on 'America's Got Talent' break three bricks with his head."

"Karate chop the turkey? You can't be serious."

"Of course I'm serious, Emily. I have a degree."

"All right. Hold on." (LOUD THUMP FOLLOWED BY SHRIEK OF PAIN) "That didn't work."

"You must have hit the stuffing."

"Can I speak to your supervisor?"

"Hold on. (PAUSE) Trudy, pick up on line two."

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