One November afternoon when my daughter was in kindergarten, I picked her up after school. She bobbed out to the car and crawled into the back seat.
"What did you do today?" I asked.
She couldn't wait to tell me. "We learned that boys are different from girls!" she chirped.
Looking into the rearview mirror, I could just see the top of her head. "My teacher told us that boys have a thing and girls don't," she added.
"Well, yes they do..." I said cautiously.
I couldn't think of anything else to say, so we were quiet for a moment. Then she piped up again. "That's how girls know that boys are boys," she said. "They see that thing that hangs down and they know that he is a boy."
I mentally calculated the distance home. Our five-minute commute already felt like an hour.
"Did you know that when the boys see a girl they puff up?" she asked.
My palms were beginning to sweat.
"Um...well…" I was still searching for something new to say, to change the subject when she asked, "Why do the girls like the boys to have those things?"
Well, I didn't know what to say. I mean, what woman hasn't asked herself that question at least once? "Oh, well...um..." I stammered.
She didn't wait for my answer. She had her own. "It's ‘cause it moves when they walk and then the girls see that and that's when they know they are boys and that's when they like them. Then the boy sees the girl and he puffs up, and then the girl knows he likes her, too. And then they get married. And then they get cooked."
That last part confused me a bit, but on the whole, I thought she had a pretty good grasp on things.
As soon as we got home and I pulled into the garage, she hopped out of the car, fishing something out of her school bag.
"I drew a picture," she said. "Do you want to see?"
I wasn't sure I did, but I looked at it anyway. I had to sit down.
There, all puffed up so to speak, looking mighty attractive for the ladies, was a crayon drawing of a great big Tom Turkey. His snood, the thing that hangs down over his beak, the thing that female turkeys find so irresistible, was magnificent. His tail feathers were standing tall and proud.
She was a little offended that I laughed so hard at her drawing, and I laughed until I cried. But when I told her I loved it … and I did … she got over her pique.
That was the end of that, for her anyway. But I'm not so lucky. Every year I remember that conversation. And to be honest, I haven't looked at a turkey, or a man, the same way since.