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On the Last Leg of a Flight of Fancy

‘Are you feeling what I’m feeling?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“Did you say, ‘yam’? Are you trying to be funny?”

“No. You asked me a question. I answered it. Believe me, I don’t feel any better about this than you do.”

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“It’s the guilt, right?”

“Pretty obvious, huh? A lot of them were my friends. A bunch of us hatched the same day. I can’t help but wonder why them and not me. When I think of Gus with brown gravy poured over him, I just -- “

“I understand. Let’s try and stay upbeat.”

Marshmallow and Yam were gobbling Tuesday from their adjoining crates aboard United Flight 197. In a ceremony earlier that day in Washington, President Bush designated Marshmallow as the National Thanksgiving Turkey and Yam as his alternate. As a result, they won all-expenses-paid trips to Disneyland and will live there the rest of their lives after having ridden in the park’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

They were happy about winning the turkey equivalent of the lottery, but their joy was dampened by knowing that 45 million other turkeys would be cooked and eaten in America on Thanksgiving.

“Frankly, it’s a little hard to stay positive,” Yam said.

“Yeah, I thought I noticed a sag in your wattle,” Marshmallow replied. “How do you think I feel? This should be the happiest moment of my life. One day I’m in a turkey farm and next thing I know I’ve received a huge national honor and heading for Disneyland. But ... it’s hard ... ya know?”

Yam was silent, unsure how to console the big bird with the ruffled feathers. Brightening, Yam said, “Pretty nice ceremony with the president, huh? He said some nice things about you. He sounded sincere.”

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“Oh, yeah,” Marshmallow said dryly. “He said it was neck-and-neck between us for the big prize. Wonder how long it took him to come up with that one.”

“Cut him some slack,” Yam said, “he was trying to lighten the mood. He’s got a lot on his plate, no pun intended. Although I have to say, that whole thing about ‘pardoning’ us sort of bugged me. Makes us sound like we did something wrong.”

“Right,” Marshmallow said. “Wrong choice of words, Mr. President? Anyway, not to talk politics, but what do you think of the job he’s doing?”

“I’d like him a lot more if he were vegan,” Yam replied.

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When Marshmallow chortled at that, Yam said, “Now that’s more like it!”

“You’re right,” Marshmallow said. “By the way, you ever hear anything from Biscuits and Gravy?”

“You mean last year’s lucky winners? Nope, not a thing. Other than they sent them to some place called Frying Pan Park in Virginia. Sounds delightful, huh? You did pick up on the fact, didn’t you, that we’re the first turkeys ever sent to Disneyland? We’ll never be in a cold rain again.”

“From what I heard, Frying Pan Park is not exactly heaven on earth -- if you know what I mean,” Marshmallow said. “The PETA people have griped about it for years.”

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“Thank God for PETA,” Yam said. “I love ‘em more than giblets.”

“Very funny,” Marshmallow said.

“Hey, if you can’t laugh -- “

“Don’t get me wrong,” Marshmallow said. “I’d much rather be here than on a dinner plate, divided into white and dark meat, with somebody’s Uncle Leo looming over me with a carving knife.”

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“Who’s with the gallows humor now?” Yam said.

The birds grew silent for several minutes, and Marshmallow sensed that his new best friend and future lifelong companion was upset about something.

“Anything else you want to talk about?” he asked.

“Well, it probably seems a little petty at this point, but I can’t help but wonder why you got to be the national turkey and I was just the alternate.”

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“Unbelievable,” Marshmallow said. “Don’t talk to me the rest of the trip. In fact, I’m going to sleep.”

Dana Parsons can be reached at (714) 966-7821 or at dana

.parsons@latimes.com. An archive of his recent columns is at www.latimes.com/parsons.


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