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Let’s Talk Turkey

by Jay Reeves |

Are you good at talking turkey – or are you better with the stuffing, gravy and side dishes?

To “talk turkey” means to discuss a problem in a frank and serious manner with an intention to solve it. Linguistically, it is a first cousin to “getting down to business,” “getting down to brass tacks” and “getting real.”

In the law office it means having the courage to initiate the sort of conversations – breaking bad news to a client, letting employees go, enforcing the rules – that separate a great practice from a middling one.

These talks can be emotional and challenging. They can take us far outside our comfort zones. Sometimes we deny there is even a problem in the first place, in order to avoid having to confront it. No matter.

We must talk turkey anyway.

Our National Bird

Thanksgiving has been a national holiday since 1863. But it was not until almost 80 years later that the turkey became the unofficial national bird. In 1947, the National Turkey Federation began presenting the President with a live turkey in celebration of Thanksgiving. This presentation has become a popular White House event and signals the beginning of the holiday season.

Benjamin Franklin was talking turkey back in the day. Ben proposed the turkey as the national bird and was horrified when the bald eagle was chosen instead. He wrote of the eagle’s “bad moral character” and called the turkey “a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America.”

Turkey can be cooked in lots of ways: stovetop, oven, microwave and grill. Deep fried turkey originated right here in the south where we fry everything. There is ground turkey, turkey ham, turkey franks, turkey pastrami, turkey sausage, turkey bacon, deli turkey and pet food turkey.

When Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin sat down to eat their first meal on the moon, their foil food packets contained roasted turkey and all of the trimmings.

Turkey Trivia Time

 More than 219 million turkeys were consumed in the U.S in 2011. Around 46 million were eaten at Thanksgiving, 22 million at Christmas and 19 million at Easter.

  1. Nearly 88 percent of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving.
  2. The average weight of a Thanksgiving turkey is 16 pounds – meaning approximately 736 million pounds of turkey are eaten each Thanksgiving.
  3. A turkey typically has about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat. White meat has fewer calories and less fat than dark meat.
  4. Most Americans prefer white meat. Dark meat is the preference of most other countries.
  5. Turkey is rich in protein.
  6. Turkey is listed among the top 10 foods for your eyes because it is packed with zinc and B-vitamin niacin.
  7. A mature turkey has 3,500 feathers. Turkey feather down is used in pillows. Turkey skins are tanned for cowboy boots and belts.
  8. The costume that Big Bird wears on Sesame Street is made of turkey feathers.
  9. Turkeys prefer to sleep in tree branches, safe from predators like coyotes, foxes and raccoons. They often sleep in flocks and sing out a series of yelps upon waking.
  10. Wild turkeys can fly for short bursts at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour. They prefer ground to sky. They peck at seeds, acorns, nuts, berries and insects.
  11. A turkey has excellent vision. Its eyes are on the sides of its head. It can rotate its head in a 360-degree field of vision.
  12. When a turkey is frightened, agitated or sick, the exposed skin on its head and neck can change from its usual pale pink or reddish or white.

The Big Question?

But does eating turkey make you sleepy?

Some studies say yes, because turkey floods the brain with sleep-inducing tryptophan. Other sources indicate a simpler explanation: overeating, with an emphasis on fatty, carbohydrate-rich fare, which invariably leads to drowsiness.

Wordsmiths believe the phrase “talking turkey” derived from the frank – sometimes heated – discussions around the Thanksgiving table.

And a final risk management note: don’t talk turkey while chewing it.

May your holiday season be safe and happy.

Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. Contact jay@lawyersmutualnc.com or phone 919-619-2441.

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About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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