For discussion purposes, turkeys come in two varieties, the feathered and the human. About the feathered variety, all I know is that they are rumored to be even dumber than chickens. Having had far too much experience with raising chickens as a child, I have my doubts. (To misquote G. K. Chesterton: God obviously could have made a creature stupider than a chicken. The fact is, he didn’t.)
About the human variety, I feel something akin to gratitude. Not because I haven’t known a few along the way. And certainly not because I didn’t get burned in the process. No. I am grateful for the same reason I am with rattlesnakes: They would be a lot more dangerous if they weren’t so obvious.
We are inclined to refer to our (human) mistakes of the past as “turkeys.” In my opinion this involves a little defensive downgrading. The true North American Turkey (the only one I know personally) is certainly a striking bird. From a distance, the brilliance of the plumage can certainly attract the unwary. But on close acquaintance, one must be besotted indeed not to notice the obvious flaws, mismatches and barren spots. The true turkey lacks the talent to hide its real nature.
I suppose all of us (at least, those who haven’t already found one) are looking for that special person who was made just for us. The one who has enough matches to be comfortable and enough differences to be interesting. The one who, through some enchantment, seems to truly see and know you and yet still loves you. The one who confirms your hopes instead of your fears about yourself.
Yet to meet such a person is to encounter real danger. They are perilous precisely because they become more lovely, more enticing, the closer you get. Everything you see and feel seems to whisper, “Come closer. I will love you and stay with you for all time. I will never hurt you.”
Suddenly, every daydream you have ever hidden away seems to wake up at once. All of your hopes, desires and needs clamor in your ears. Each tells you that this it, your very own magic moment, to be grabbed now or forever lost.
If your new found jewel is truly flawless, then following your instincts is fine. But what if this jewel has some tiny imperfection? Some insignificant blemish? It probably doesn’t matter, right? Such a trifle must surely be unimportant in the larger glory of the whole.
Once upon a memory I was actually lucky enough to meet my own match, that paragon of my dreams. She loved me and I her and everything seemed perfect. True, she was a trifle slow to really commit (long after I had taken the plunge), but I knew she could not long resist the wonderfulness we had together.
Years later, she was still resisting just fine, thank you. To her, complete commitment equated to loss of independence and was therefore unthinkable. That superficial problem I dismissed actually ran right in a straight vein through her to the bottom of all her fears.
I think there is a truth here: It’s not the turkeys of this world you have to watch out for. The real danger comes from that glorious white swan over there, the one with that single, hardly noticeable, black feather. Impossible to resist and nearly so to give up.