By Joe MacLeod


The Mr. Wrong column is presented by Hmm Weekly.

Touched by a Turkey

IT IS NOW The Holiday Season, which begins on Thanksgiving Eve in bars, with drinking, and in my personal Belief System, continues until Super Bowl. The Holidays! You can haz, or you can skip ‘em, there are no repercussions! There used to be a War on Christmas, and it got a lot of attention until people realized they could just go ahead and have Christmas if they wanted to, and nothing would happen, there was still Christmas and Santa Claus and all that stuff, and now The War on Christmas is a phrase for a joke, you know, to make fun of the War on Christmas, by saying there’s a War on Christmas? It’s in the “that’s what she said” category of an automatic ritualistic thing, like when you say if you don’t participate in an activity then “the Terrorists win,” get it? I know, it’s worse than a pun, it’s a fucking Pavlovian Knee-Jerk Catchphrase.

If you’re not trying to make a joke about the War on Christmas, and you are saying out loud the words “War on Christmas,” then you are participating in an automatic ritualistic thing to complain about, because it means even though you can go right ahead have Your Own Personal Christmas any way you want, you can’t find space in your mind to understand that a planet full of human beings might not all give a shit the same way about the same day on the calendar for the same reason.

Anybody who grew up with Christmas, no matter what they do on Christmas, even if they declare in their heart their own sincere and personal War on Christmas, still has some sort of accumulation of Christmas in their brain. It’s like lead paint, it piles up inside on a cellular level, it never leaves the body! People try and get all ironic and alternative and come up with non-Christmas stuff that just ends up getting stacked up on top of Christmas, like this Festivus holiday, which is a joke on top of a joke, now blurred by making it about football somehow, calling it Festivus Maximus, as if there needed to be a whole other holiday for football besides Super Bowl and Thanksgiving as its high holy days, where you can sit on your ass in front of Football and call it doing something. Thanksgiving and Super Bowl are the bookends of The Holidays! They have gluttony and football, but in differently-arranged doses. Thanksgiving is where you have some football with your gluttony, and Super Bowl is where you have some gluttony with your football, speaking of which, this Nov. 25, 2019 cover of The New Yorker is giving me a headache, have you seen this cover, the artwork, the turkey?

It’s a painting of a turkey on a platter, I’m pretty sure that’s all it is, and it is very painterly, with a weird blue color-shadow to the right of the turkey-platter. This artwork is like one of those goddamn cartoons every once in a while in The New Yorker that I don’t get, or maybe I “get,” but I just don’t think it’s funny, because I think it’s more of an observation or a simple statement of fact.

I have looked at this turkey painting too much. I have shown the magazine cover to people, because I am bothered by this artwork, the part of the turkey where it’s supposed to be stitched up, to hold the stuffing, appears to me to be concave instead of, like, convex, to show there’s ingredients inside the turkey, stuffing? The turkey looks like somebody let the air out of the front part of it. My Bride looked at it real fast and said, “is it supposed to be a football,” because she is an experienced The New Yorker reader and figured there was some sort of double meaning to the picture and when you get it you feel good about how you are a The New Yorker reader who get things. I totally wanted it to be a fucking football, because then I could move on with The Holidays, but no way is that a football, it’s a bad painting of a turkey! OK, maybe it’s not a bad painting, I don’t want to be an Art Critic, it could be a Great painting, but it’s a bad painting of a turkey, OK? At the very least it is a disappointing-looking turkey.

If you start at the top of the picture, where the legs are tied together in a typical turkey-preparation method, it is a portrayal of a typical Thanksgiving turkey, minding its own business, very ordinary, the fat part where all the meat is, the breast (totally overrated), but then you move a little further down, and it’s like a cliff, and there’s scribbly vertical stitching in it, and the cliff goes almost straight down to colorful bed-of-greens-looking stuff and then some sort of fruit or vegetable, I think they are supposed to be apples? On the left side there are six white things, maybe those are onions, and going back up to the top of the platter there are green blobs, maybe Brussels sprouts? I’m not sure. The orange schmear on the right side of the platter, who knows, carrots maybe? Jesus Christ.

I thought maybe some of those vegetable-looking things were supposed to be items that were formerly inside the turkey, but all the stitching is still there, what kind of a maniac would take out all the stuffings and then stitch the stupid turkey back up? I looked inside for some sort of explanation, if there was a hidden meaning it’d be in the title of the artwork, by Wayne Thiebaud, which is “Stuffed,” and it doesn’t look stuffed, it looks not-stuffed! It looks caved-in! Bad turkey! Also, my wife’s comment completely altered my perception and it kinda does look like a football! It looks deflated! I don’t get it!

There was an episode of The Sopranos on Home Box where Tony Soprano goes to his psychiatrist and complains about a painting of a barn out in the waiting room.

This could be a depressing Rorschach turkey trick painting! If you understand this painting, tell me, I don’t mind saying I’m not smart enough to figure it out—if there’s anything to figure out—you know? I don’t like puzzles! I have turned this goddamn turkey picture upside-down and looked at it in a mirror and I still can’t figure it out, is this some sort of War on Thanksgiving picture? Why? And what is with all this “Friendsgiving” bullshit? What can’t people just have a Thanksgiving? Is this the same thinking that compels a person who bought a dog at an animal shelter to say “it’s a Rescue” to make sure everybody knows they got a used dog because they’re worried that people might think they bought a new dog at a dog factory or whatever, a dog store? You bought a dog!

What’s the big fucking deal, why do we have to make a new thing besides Thanksgiving? Can’t people just get together and be thankful and not overthink it and chop it up into subcategories? If it’s a location thing, be thankful more than once if you want! You don’t have to Qualify it based on who’s in the audience! It’s Thanksgiving! Some people don’t have family, does that mean they can only have Friendsgiving? Bullshit! I don’t know anything about you and your family, no offense, but are you going outta your way to tell your people something with this Friendsgiving? How is your family supposed to feel that you’re having a different Giving and calling it Friends, and why would friends go around making sure that everybody knows they’re having Thanks, but hey, it’s with Friends?

Mostly though, please to enjoy your The Holidays even if you don’t have any, and somebody just explain this fucking turkey painting to me. Thank you.

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