Dr. Demento and the Desecrated Turkey

Photo (cc) by Nesster

I recently walked over to the Asian market to buy carrots and came home with a turkey. Yes, I know the difference between root vegetables and edible fowls. But the bird was on sale for 25 cents a pound. The whole thing cost only $2.65. I’ve paid more than that for a soft drink at a ballpark.

(What does this have to do with Dr. Demento? I’ll get to that.)

I stashed the 10.58-pound bird in the freezer. Then I ignored it. Why? Because a turkey dinner is such a production. I’d have to buy potatoes, a couple of other vegetables, and some cranberry sauce. Onions and celery and white bread for the stuffing. Cabbage and sour cream for the coleslaw. Yeast to make rolls, apples for applesauce. I already had a can of pumpkin on the shelf, and I had baking chocolate in the freezer for brownies, but I’d need whipped cream or vanilla ice cream – or both – to go on the desserts.

And if I were going to make that much food, I should invite people over. Having dinner guests would mean that I’d need to clean the apartment and wear something other than sweatpants and my caulk-stained “Anchorage Daily News Health & Safety Committee” T-shirt.

The rational part of my brain piped up: What if I just ate it myself, with whatever I have on hand? Rice, maybe, and a side vegetable?

The irrational part of my brain immediately shouted back: Impossible! There’s only one way to make a turkey!

A gut-busting occasion

Once upon a time, turkey was a holiday dish. Now it’s the go-to protein for people who are grossed out by meat but still yearn for hot dogs and “bacon.” Somehow, it’s easier to eat a bird than a pig or a cow. I’m not sure why, since they all have faces.

Ben Franklin once suggested, possibly in jest, that the turkey would make a much better national bird than the eagle. Wonder what we’d all be eating on Thanksgiving if he’d had his way? Eagle drumsticks, anybody?

(We’re getting closer to the Dr. Demento part. Hang in there.)

Fact is, I’d imprinted on all those years of watching and helping my mom churn and burn in the kitchen. The only way to serve turkey is with a platoon of side dishes and desserts. Until I could do that, the bird would stay on ice.

Rice, no cranberries

Yes, I know how silly that sounds. But the irrational lobe of my brain has had a lot more practice. Slowly, slowly I’m starting to rethink what I always, deep down, believed to be true. Things like…

  • A woman’s worth is defined in terms of her service to others.
  • I’m not smart enough to do math.
  • I have to do things the way they’ve always been done. I just do, that’s all.

Finally, finally, I listened to the rational lobe. Last week, I roasted the bird. And lightning did not strike, even though I completely desecrated the memory of long-ago turkey dinners.

I cooked rice because I had no potatoes, and a side dish of corn. No cranberry sauce – I hate the stuff. Since I prefer the dark meat, I cut up the turkey breast and froze it to use in future pots of chili.

And as I worked, I kept giggling at the memory of the day I spent driving Dr. Demento around the city of Anchorage, Alaska.

Eagles and trains

Years ago, the good doctor was in town to perform at the late, lamented Fly By Night Club. I was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, and it fell to me to interview him – and to score some fish heads for a photo shoot, a nod to the “Fish Heads” song that Demento likes to play.

Incidentally: Although known for wacky novelty and comedy records, Demento was (and probably still is) the most ordinary guy I’ve ever met. Middle-aged, native of Minnesota, married to the same woman for decades, fascinated by bald eagles and railroad trains. His real first name is Barry, for heaven’s sake.

He loved the Alaska Railroad depot. Then I showed him where a couple of eagles were nesting nearby. One of them perched on a branch, glaring at us. (I think it was glaring. With eagles, it’s hard to tell.)

Demento was delighted enough to start quoting from a classic Stan Freberg skit about a snafu at the first Thanksgiving: The turkey, meant to be a centerpiece, was mistakenly roasted. “‘You put our national bird in the oven!‘”

At that precise moment, the eagle took an enormous dump. Clearly not a radio fan.

Think outside the giblet bag

So what have we learned here?

It’s really OK to do things differently from the way we’ve always done them. Doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about personal finance or side dishes.

When you find turkey at 25 cents a pound, go back and buy a few more.

Eagles have no sense of humor, so stand far away from the tree when quoting Stan Freberg.

Oh, and if you get fish heads for a photo shoot, refrigerate them. Luckily, Barry was a swell sport about being surrounded by dangling, stinking piscine craniums. Bless his heart.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
3 Ways a Health Savings Account Can Improve Your Finances
3 Ways a Health Savings Account Can Improve Your Finances

Open an HSA in minutes to help you save on taxes, cover medical expenses and grow your retirement nest egg.

What Is Umbrella Insurance, and Do I Need It?
What Is Umbrella Insurance, and Do I Need It?

Umbrella insurance picks up where car and homeowners insurance leaves off. Do you need it? Here’s how to know.

11 Secret Uses for Everyday Items That Save Money
11 Secret Uses for Everyday Items That Save Money

These are simple solutions for life’s irritations.

9 Forgotten Frugal Strategies — and How to Resurrect Them
9 Forgotten Frugal Strategies — and How to Resurrect Them

These time-tested methods can help us live smarter today.

13 Small Gadgets Under $20 That Make Life Better
13 Small Gadgets Under $20 That Make Life Better

These inexpensive electronics will make your day-to-day life a little easier — and happier.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Whether you resell it for a big profit or add it to your own wardrobe, this type of clothing is a hidden steal.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years
10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years

The cars that owners hold onto the longest have one thing in common, a new study shows.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

Does Wearing 2 Masks Protect You Better From COVID-19?
Does Wearing 2 Masks Protect You Better From COVID-19?

A growing number of people are wearing two masks instead of just one. Should you join them?

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

9 Things You Should Never Leave in a Car
9 Things You Should Never Leave in a Car

Thinking of leaving these possessions in a car? Prepare for unexpected consequences.

Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021
Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021

More than 700 prescription medications have seen price hikes so far this year. Here’s a look at the worst.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

5 States Lowering Taxes This Year and 2 Raising Them
5 States Lowering Taxes This Year and 2 Raising Them

State personal income tax rates, brackets and deductions just changed in these places.

7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster
7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster

These tips can get your bathroom sparkling with little time and no elbow grease.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.