My turkeys and my husband have something in common: they’re all middle-aged. The birds are exactly three months old, putting them squarely at the three-fifths mark of their lifespan. Because Kevin’s execution isn’t scheduled, we can’t predict his demise with the same precision, but supposing he’s three-fifths of the way through an 83-year lifespan would not be unreasonable.
So it’s mid-life crisis all around. The turkey version consists primarily of insecurity. When we go into the turkey pen, the alpha male, Drumstick, seems determined to prove that he’s a force to be reckoned with. He fluffs himself up and fans out his tail and makes a low clucking sound that he seems to think is menacing.
Kevin, not one to be deterred by the displays of other males, refuses to take him seriously. “Dude,” he says to Drumstick, “you’re not scary.” He gets right in the poor bird’s face, puts his arms up like wings, glares, and clucks.
Any turkey with self-esteem would realize that Kevin’s just baiting him, but not Drumstick. He takes the bait. He fluffs up even more, and paces around in front of Kevin, compelled to flaunt his mid-life manhood.
The other two males, Beta and Gamma, are even worse. They hide behind Drumstick, unable to muster the wherewithal to put on a show. Our one hen, Edith, is only a bystander to these proceedings until Kevin uses her as a pawn in his little alpha-male game.
“Hey, Drumstick,” he says, as he scoops up Edith. “I’ve got your girl.”
One of the interesting things about keeping livestock is that you get to see, up close, what we humans have in common with other species. Maleness is maleness, whether it has feathers and wattles or free will and opposable thumbs.
While there’s an element of display in Kevin’s mid-life crisis (“Hey baby!” he says to me in his best he-man voice as he flexes his biceps, “Are you coming to the gun show?”), that’s just window dressing for the real issue. Last week, in an attempt to recapture the glory of his youth on Long Island, he bought a surfboard.
It’s not a Maserati or a stripper, so I’m okay with it.
I’m just about at the three-fifths mark myself, so I figure I’m entitled to my own mid-life crisis any day now. If I get to pick, I want a month in Provence.