The carcass makes its appearance....
How do we get at it?
The plots begin at dawn, when the huge carcass is prepared for its
They’ve ogled it before - inside its chilly berth in the refrigerator,
but now it has come out to play.
For many years now, our Thanksgiving turkeys have been christened "Elmo".
The name sprang from an incident involving a too large turkey, a too small
oven - and a small, yet spectacular, blaze. As I extinguished the blazing
breastbone, I was reminded of Saint Elmo’s Fire and the image (and the
The annual Elmo is of great interest to the resident canines. They circle
like sharks, each hoping to be the lucky dog in the right place at the
right time if the 20 pound morsel should accidentally slip off the counter.
They know mama does not eat meat and a hunk this large is handled with
extreme distaste. Maybe this is the year she says "to hell with it"
and chucks the whole mess to the dogs…Maybe today…
Eventually, dog hopes are dashed as the beast is wrestled onto the roasting
pan and stuffed into the oven.
The apportioning of the grossies...
Simmering on the stove are what we lovingly refer to as
"the grossies". These are the bird bits tossed in a paper bag
and hidden deep within the carcass before it leaves the butcher shop. Now,
I know you are supposed to do something to turn these horrors into fabulous
gravy, but my few attempts at gravy have resulted in requests that prepared
gravy - safely obtained from a jar or can - be used. (One bowl of green
gravy and they never forgive you…how was I to know my attempts to create
"golden brown" with food coloring would fail so spectacularly?)
These unidentifiable bits are now reserved for dog consumption. They bubble
busily on the stove until the blessed time when they are cooled and doled
out to the waiting dogs. Grossies are served on top of kibble like whipped
cream on pumpkin pie. The canines gorge. The idea is that canines already
stuffed with turkey bits will not make trouble for the guests. It hasn't
Nancy Reagan eyes…
Those of us who were not busy making scads of money in the
1980s remember the adoring, worshipful stares. Mrs. Reagan would sit beside
her husband, eyes upward - as if toward heaven. All that rapt attention
never looked quite natural. The reason for this is that, while she may
have introduced this behavior to humankind, it did not originate with her.
It originated when a clever wolf decided the humans might just toss some
food his way. Dogs can tell you what the oldest profession is - it's begging.
Now all our guests sit at the table with "Nancy eyes" upon them.
The uninitiated and the weak fall victim to the oldest trick in the book.
Food goes from plate - to lap - to dog. Tradition has won out once again.
The clearing of the table...
The quick, the hopeful, and the stupid always make some
sort of play for the dishes left unattended. A canine is always caught
mere inches from a cranberry sauce smear or a gray spill. Nothing ever
comes of it, but still they press on.
The dismantling of the carcass…
Joy abounds when the carcass is dismantled for storage.
Many bits - too tiny to wrap - rain from the sky into the waiting doggies.
Bits of skin, bits too dry, bits too odd, bits, bits, glorious bits. And
then it is gone…
The blessing of the leftovers...
Next morning, Papa is having his traditional breakfast of
turkey sandwiches. The bits return. This "festival of the bits"
goes on for nearly a week - until even the dogs are sick of turkey.
The dream deferred...
And then they wait.
One day when the sky is gray and there’s a winter chill in the air, it
will come again.
Elmo… the stuff that doggie dreams are made of…
Copyright 1997 Elizabeth Cusulas
Tale Waggers - Stories for Dog People
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction without written permission is expressly forbidden