When I was spending time in England almost every year, I realized that many of their television ads were incredibly clever as opposed to most of ours that simply tried to sell you something you probably didn’t need or want. Lately, however, I have seen a few current ads that genuinely amuse me. One of the best is for a product named Chantix, something a person takes who is trying to end an addiction to cigarettes. It focuses on an older Tom Turkey who is either keeping warm in his apartment or hiking in the woods or relaxing at a campfire. The words tell me that it’s too hard to stop smoking “cold turkey”–hence the AC unit’s being turned off or the bird’s draping himself in a shawl. Then we’re told Chantix will help a person stop smoking “slow turkey.” The created Tom then occupies himself while still having the occasional cigarette until the voice over assures us a time will come when Chantix will have lessened the desire enough to make it easy to stop. Our turkey then either throws his last butt into the campfire or into his apartment’s trash can and starts doing constructive and healthy things: he feeds goldfish in his apartment; he makes s’mores over the dwindling coals outdoors; he dusts off his beach shoes so he can go for a brisk swim; he dons a backpack and sets off for a hike with his trusty water bottle. Just before the ad ends as we watch him walking away from the camera, the turkey jumps up and clicks his feet as a final sign of having “kicked” the bad habit. Whereas I usually just go get a glass of water during ads or check my e-mail, I watch these Chantix ads with genuine pleasure. The idea is smart, the images are engaging, and the Tom Turkey seems so sincerely pleased to have stopped hurting himself that I am drawn into the script just as the Madison Avenue gurus want me to be. And, were I an addicted smoker (are there any other kind?), I’d certainly be inclined to try Chantix.
Three days ago, I walked out my front door to see what parts of my front garden needed watering first and was momentarily thrown a little off kilter to see a very tall wild turkey walking slowly in just the part of my side yard where the dry flowers live. I spoke softly to him (coloring suggested this was “Tom”) asking if he lives at the cemetery a half block from my house. I also welcomed him to my yard, stood a moment or two watching his majestic strut before going back inside. Almost as soon as I got inside the phone rang. It was my next door neighbor saying in a rushed voice “Toni, look out your kitchen window–there’s a TURKEY in your back garden. When I first saw it, it scared me, so go look.” I do go look and of course it was the same fellow I’d just seen. He’d jumped over the fence and found my big back yard graced by two large and well-stocked feeding stations. The wild turkey was happily pecking up fallen seeds, perhaps thinking he’s won a small lottery just designed for creatures like him. Again, I stepped quietly out onto my little back stoop and welcomed my new friend to have as much bird food as he liked before finding his way back into what I assume is his home–that cemetery a few stones’ throws away.
Melanie then sent me three wonderful photographs taken with her smart phone. Of course I dont’ know how either to take photographs with a phone or send them to anyone else. But once I had them in an e-mail, I could send them to a couple of friends who were as pleased as I to see them so close to my back door. I thank my blog manager for including one of those here, so those of you reading this can get a better scale of this unexpected visitation. And, while I really do welcome any wild turkey who wanders into my yards to spend some moments there, part of me worries because surely wild turkeys are not entirely safe on residential streets of busy neighborhood full of cars and trucks. But into my little world Tom Turkey came, so hospitality directed me to welcome him. And should he or relatives or friends ever grace me with their presence, similar welcomes will be sent towards their subtly and beautifully colored feathers and necks and underbellies.