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Not All Turkeys Have Feathers

November 22, 1995|Robin Abcarian

Scene: The meat counter at a grocery store.

Dramatis personae: A male butcher. A harried female customer.

Customer: If there are seven adults for dinner, do you suppose a seven-pound roasting chicken would do the trick?

Butcher, wiping hands on crisp white apron: I don't think so. You need to plan on at least a pound and a half per person.

Customer: I see. In that case, I don't suppose you have a 12-pound roasting chicken somewhere in the back?

Butcher, dubiously: Uh, ma'am?

Customer: Yes?

Butcher: We call that a turkey.


It was embarrassing. But life's lessons often come at us from the most oblique angles. Who would have guessed that from the lips of a humble butcher would spring such profundity--the home truth that a turkey is a turkey no matter how it dresses up, whether it poses as a 12-pound roasting chicken . . . or a politician, or a celebrity, or a business mogul.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday November 23, 1995 Home Edition Life & Style Part E Page 8 View Desk 1 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
Robin Abcarian--A quote about former California Assembly Speaker Doris Allen was misattributed to Assemblyman Bill Hoge (R-Pasadena) in Robin Abcarian's Wednesday column. The comment was made by Assemblyman Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside).

Today, we celebrate the 1995 turkeys deserving of particular honor on this, the eve of the much-mocked fowl's most feared day. Singled out for their stupidity, silliness, tastelessness or other particularly birdbrained actions are:

* Judith Regan, editor for literary sensation Howard Stern for her remark that there isn't a big difference between "what Howard says and what Shakespeare says in terms of reflecting their times." Forsooth, dudette. Or, as the Long Island Bard of Bile himself might sayeth: Exsqueeze me?

* White House police officers who donned rubber gloves before "welcoming" a delegation of gay elected officials, invited as part of an Administration effort to reach out to homosexuals. Reach out? Definitely. Just don't touch someone.

* Pasadena Assemblyman Bill Hoge, who answered the riddle, When is a turkey catty? when Democrats made Republican Assemblywoman Doris Allen speaker and he mumbled, "The first thing she ought to do is her hair."

* Former California Assembly Speaker Allen, for her memorable, if grossly inappropriate, outburst about the relationship of male anatomy to partisan imperatives: "Do I let a group of power-mongering men with short penises tell me what to do?" We'll assume--because imagining the alternative is unbearable--that it was a rhetorical question.

* Alameda County prosecutor William Tingle, who removed a woman from a jury because she was "grossly overweight" and wore "a little tiny skirt that doesn't fit her." In explaining his desire to boot the woman off an attempted murder case, Tingle, who is black, stated, "I've never liked young, obese black women, and I think they sense that." Sharing the honor are California's higher courts, which upheld Tingle's right to base a peremptory challenge on weight (as opposed to race, sex or national origin). Where is Doris Allen when you need her?

* North Carolina state lawmaker Henry Aldridge, who declared that women don't get pregnant when raped because: "The facts are that people who are raped--who are truly raped--the juices don't flow, the body functions don't work." Ironically--or perhaps predictably--Aldridge made this statement while apologizing for implying that victims of rape and incest are sexually promiscuous.

* Adm. Richard Macke, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, or should we say former commander of U.S forces in the Pacific, who told reporters that the American servicemen charged with raping a 12-year-old Okinawan girl were stupid because, "for the price they paid to rent the car, they could have had a girl." In the same conversation, he also discussed how cultural standards vary from country to country, and said--ironically, or perhaps predictably--"even patting your wife on the fanny" is frowned on in some places."

* Hugh Grant. Seriously, you didn't think there was any way he'd be left off this list, did you?

* Newt Gingrich. See Hugh Grant.

* Structural Dynamics Research Corp. of Milford, Ohio, which fired Bill Means on Take Our Daughters to Work Day, as Means' 8-year-old daughter, Marisa, waited in his office. Pere et fille were escorted off the premises after the dirty deed. "Our timing was truly regrettable," admitted the company's personnel head, adding that there were no plans to rehire Means. Teach Our Daughters About Cruel Corporate Downsizing Day, anyone?

* Donald Trump, who, in an unusually self-serving (even for him) essay in the New York Times Magazine excoriated everyone who has not returned his phone calls in general and two corporate employees who did not turn out to be people who would "run through a concrete wall to help accomplish the goals of Donald Trump" in particular. The Donald avowed: "I pride myself on being loyal and had presumed this bond of loyalty was a two-way street. I was wrong." Donald Trump and loyalty? Why, the terms are practically synonymous. Just ask Ivana.

Now those--to paraphrase a certain butcher--are what we call turkeys, folks.

* Robin Abcarian's column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Readers may write to her at the Los Angeles Times, Life & Style, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, Calif. 90053. Send e-mail to

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