OUTDOOR TRUTHS: The Real Thing
By Gary Miller
(Editor's Note: The author last week celebrated 38 years with his wife. With this memory, he brings back one of his favorite columns.)
It was the funniest sight the other day. At daybreak a tom strolled down the path to a small field just in front of me. There he strutted and gobbled and listened for any hen that might be close and interested in watching him flex his muscles as if he were in a pose-down at an Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic.
He paraded in one direction and then the other as if he were practicing in front of a mirror in anticipation for the real thing. It was not too long until some movement to my left caught my eye. It was 5 young jakes who had heard his call and decided to team up and try to run him off.
That’s what they do. The younger males are not fit enough to take on a full grown gobbler by themselves so they form a gang and team up to push him away from any hen that might be around. The problem however, was there were no hens in sight………… yet.
As I watched I was impressed how the older tom stood his ground. While the jakes looked formidable, their tactics mostly amounted to nothing but a good bluff. So, there they were; 5 jakes and a tom bickering among one another in the middle of my little field. And then it happened. She showed up. Yes she did. And she must have looked really good because every one of the boys suddenly stopped and looked, and never flinched one tail feather. They froze for what seemed like eternity, just watching her saunter across their dance floor. It was as if each one had so practiced this moment but now that it was here, they were totally unsure of what to do. Do I go over to her? Do I flex again? Do I punch one of my friends in the face? I sure hope I don’t have anything hanging out of my nose. And while she moved gracefully to the center, they were afraid to budge, fearing a monumental stumble.
I laughed at how my feathered male friends were so like me and my non-feathered male friends. I was reminded of my own pursuit of my wife years ago, and how my rehearsals were so much more suave than the actual performance. The deep and handsome gobble I had practiced was hard to replicate with sweat running down my forehead and a big apple stuck in my throat. To say anything at that moment would give away the fact my voice was still changing.
So, like my turkey brothers, I simply stood still, and made sure my knees were slightly bent because I had heard this would keep me from passing out. As she passed by I gathered up all the testosterone that had been slowly leaking out and finally posited the question; “Do you want fries with that?” And we have been together ever since.
Gary Miller can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.