The dreaded electronic turkey burglary

Posted on Nov 27 1998

It’s Thanksgiving as I write this. I’m in my office. Working. As usual. The last Thanksgiving when I didn’t work was in 1995. That was the day my home in the mountains was broken into, and I was a victim of the dreaded electronic turkey.

The day before that Thanksgiving held great promise. My friend John phoned from Oregon. John had just kayaked across the United States, and would be at my parents house in California in time for Thanksgiving dinner. I looked forward to seeing John and hearing of his adventures.

Come Thanksgiving, you could see every mile that John had logged across the country in his weatherbeaten face. He looked tired–a healthy, victorious tired, a good tired–but really bone- tired nonetheless. A Thanksgiving dinner in Mom’s formal dining room was indeed a contrast to his usual diet of canned beans eaten over a fire at river-side.

This was sure a Thanksgiving to be relished.

And then the phone rang.

It was Jess, my mountain neighbor. He was a hard-bitten rancher of Mexican decent who ate cigars like you or I would eat a candy bar.

“Ed,” said Jess, “I think there’s someone might be breakin’ into your house,” Jess bellowed.

“Shoot him!” said I.

I pictured Jess with his beloved 7mm Remington Magnum, drawing a bead on the burglars. The bullets for that rifle are the size of torpedoes. Oh, man, what a mess that thing would make. I pictured my living room splattered with red mush and bone splinters.

“I think it might be friends of yours,” said Jess.

Jess was a nice guy and would never shoot my friends. Not without provocation, at least.

Now, my home, known as Camp Ed, was a cross between a bed-and-breakfast, a frat house, and a youth hostel. People dropping in unannounced at all hours of the day was just part of the routine. Perhaps someone forgot their key, I thought; but in that case most knew to go next door to Jess and he’d give them a key. Hmmm.
Something seemed amiss.

“Odd thing is,” said Jess, “it looks like a burglary because they’re messing around by your window and there’s a TV by their feet.”

Jess and I exchanged a few more words. I bid John fair well, hopped in my car, and made the few hour drive to my mountain lair in all due haste.

Jess and I approached the house and cornered the perpetrators. Exhibit A: One guy with a flat-top haircut (Chuck). Exhibit B: A tall, leggy California blonde, his girlfriend (Jane). Exhibit C: A 19″ screen color television set (Motorola).

A shocking conspiracy amongst two of my closest friends who came up from the city to visit me all the time. It didn’t take too much interrogation to pull out the truth. I got a confession, in fact.

“Ed, I knew you’d never allow a TV into your house,” said Chuck. “We decided to put it in while you were away.”

“Camp Ed is uncivilized. There’s no TV,” Jane interjected

Jess roared with laughter. “Americans are weird,” he said, “I never heard of someone breaking into a house to put a TV in it.” Yeah, and driving about 160 miles, one way, to do it. On Thanksgiving, no less.

Somebody persuaded me to keep the evil device–that damned electronic turkey– by pointing out that if we hooked a VCR up to it, I could watch Apocalypse Now and Air America whenever I wanted. I put the thing in a corner, on the floor.

In addition to the electronic turkey Chuck had brought a canned ham and all sorts of chow. We rounded up copious amounts of beer. I cranked up some extremely amplified music. Jess ate a cigar. We fired up the diesel-burning smudge pot in the backyard to ward off the chill of mountain air, and commenced to have

Thanksgiving, Camp Ed style.

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