Sunday, November 30, 2008

Various interpretations of an inflatable turkey wearing a pilgrim's hat

On a street not far from here, there's a massive inflatable turkey wearing a pilgrim hat.  What exactly was the homeowner who put it out on his lawn trying to say here?  How did he want us to interpret his artistic offering?

Theory #1 --  The homeowner is a no holds barred satirist who's making a radical statement about the heinousness of the Thanksgiving tradition of turkey slaughter by turning the tables on the people who started the tradition.  Imagine, the homeowner suggests, that instead of pilgrims eating turkeys, it was the turkeys who ate the pilgrims.  While this turkey was blooding one of the pilgrims, the pilgrim's hat fell onto the ground and the turkey kept the hat as a keepsake and put it on his own head.  This theory is backed up by the girth of the turkey.  Look at it.  It's massive.  And these were the days before hormones.  What the homeowner wants us to take away from our viewing of this swollen-bellied turkey is that it consumed a multi-course dinner of pilgrims.  The homeowner also hopes we'll extend his Swiftian metaphor and imagine other turkeys celebrating what they call Pilgrim's Day in different ways.  The little ones would make crude crayon drawings of pilgrims.  Dad turkey would sit at the head of the table.  The honor of carving the pilgrim carcass would go to him.  And so on.  What an inflammatory idea.  I'm amazed this homeowner's neighbors didn't torch his house after they saw it.

Theory #2 -- The homeowner is reminding us that both the turkey and the pilgrim, as symbolized by his hat, are alike in that they're both creatures created by the same god.  By combining these two symbols, the homeowner is attempting to drive home the horror of the tradition of one of God's creatures consuming another.

Theory #3 -- The turkey, fully cognizant of its imminent death and worried about its soul, decided to get religion.  Since the pilgrims' religion was the only one he could find, he adopted it and started wearing the hat and writing masochistic, forgiveness-seeking verse.  The homeowner hopes we'll be struck hard by the irony of one creature embracing the religion of the creatures who are about to slaughter and consume it.

Theory #4 --  The homeowner simply got a good deal.  Wal-mart was having a two-for-one special on inflatable symbols of American-perpetrated atrocities.  Here the atrocity of the pilgrims wiping out Native American civilizations is combined with the atrocity of 46 million turkeys slaughtered this Thanksgiving alone just because the pilgrims' descendants enjoy the taste of their flesh.  (Wal-mart was all out of the atomic bomb on top of a white's only drinking fountain and some of their other two for one atrocities.)

Anyhow, these are the theories that occurred to me as I was walking by