The Annual Bird Flu Epidemic
by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, Warren, PA., May 12, 2007.)
An especially virulent strain of bird flu infects Pennsylvanians every May, and it targets a specific group. Most people are immune to this strain, but I’m in the "at risk" population.
The most obvious symptom is an extreme obsession with fashion.
"Honey, do you think this camouflage is too green
for early May? Is it too brown for late May?"
Spouses should watch for a number of sure symptoms. Victims have a strong desire to follow Ben Franklin's dictum "early to bed, early to rise," with an inclination to arrive late at work or miss work altogether. They try to steer every conversation around to the fact that Franklin wanted the wild turkey to be our national bird.
Early warning signs include a credit card maxed out on the Cabelas catalog in February or March, and practicing turkey calls not just alone in the car, in the basement, or on the back porch, but wherever it annoys as many people as possible.
In every case, the sickness causes men to take their eyes off the road while driving, stare into fields, and mutter something about "strutters." The disease itself is not deadly but it can involve a fatality when the victim sets the TV to the Outdoor Channel and then kills the remote control.
Perhaps the most obvious symptom is an extreme obsession with fashion. "Honey, do you think this camouflage it too green for early May? Is it too brown for late May?"
By mid May it exhibits itself as excessive worrying about whether someone has stumbled onto the gobbler the victim has been patterning for two weeks.
The effect on families can be devastating. In one family, the husband thinks the gobbler he's hunting has actually patterned his wife. She isn't a hunter but she sees the turkey more often than her husband sees it – nearly every day when she drives to work.
The poor man believes the turkey has a "thing" for his wife. We hear the warnings about hunters illegally stalking turkeys rather than calling them legally, and we hear warnings about men stalking women. In fact, I just heard a report on TV about a big problem on college campuses where college boys stalk co-eds. But no one ever says anything about gobblers stalking our wives.
Hey, it could happen! We live in serious and dangerous times. Every adult gobbler carries weapons, and they know how to use them. Those sharp spurs could maim a woman and render her a scarred and pale reflection of her natural beauty. And who knows what the psychological damage might be to her husband for failing to tag that mentally unstable bird?
If a gobbler suspiciously seems to be crossing paths with your wife, go straight to the county courthouse and obtain an order of protection – to keep that gobbler away from her. And if people mock you (especially a brother-in-law), tell them that if they were decent human beings (let alone kinfolk) they would sympathize with you and your wife – especially your wife, for goodness sake! Think how much she's suffering – and she thinks her husband's chirping on a turkey call all the time is bad. She doesn't know the half!
Her poults, er, little ones are making shrill "kee-kee" sounds when they get excited or can't find mommy, and their shins are beginning to look pink and scaly. The teenagers are making flydown cackles when they jump down from their bunk beds at daylight.
Sadly, unsympathetic wives cluck, putt and even yelp about the honey-do list not getting any attention during the month of May while their husbands suffer with this terrible affliction.
The only cure is for the illness to run its course. By the end of May most symptoms will be gone, and several full nights of sleep will make the cure almost complete. However, residual effects can linger all summer as the victim continues to avoid the honey-do list, and his wife continues to cluck and yelp about it.
It's just a good thing Ben Franklin didn't get his way and make the wild turkey our national bird, or we'd all have this flu and nothing would ever get done.
(A shout-out to members of the message board at www.HuntingPA.com, particularly Trout2003, for the diagnosis of this pernicious and merciless malady.)