Last year, to ensure I did nothing to ruin Thanksgiving, my wife decided we would spend the day at her brother’s house. Never mind that my SPAM turkey from the year before made that holiday (in Scott's own words) "The Best Thanksgiving EVER!”
The upside of going to my brother-in-law’s for Thanksgiving was that Scott had a new turkey fryer, which effectively placed him and I in charge of preparing the bird. He had also bought the turkey, a monster 22-pounder.
Scott had placed the fryer at the top of his asphalt driveway and was already heating the peanut oil when we arrived. Because the drive slopes toward the street, he had shimmed one leg with a piece of scrap two-by-four, to keep it level... and totally safe.
As the oil neared optimal temperature, Scott and I went in and removed the turkey from the freezer. What a giant!
Prying the carcass open, we managed to insert the hook that would be used to carefully lower the turkey into the hot oil, but it was obvious we had a problem.
The bird was too large to fit down into the cylindrical fryer.
Thinking quickly (I’m known for the results of my quick thinking - ask my wife) I walked to the street and grabbed the chainsaw from my pickup. After filling the chain-oil reservoir with peanut oil, for a sanitary cut, I trimmed away enough frozen meat to allow a snug fit without taking too much away from Scott’s glorious bird.
The magic moment had finally arrived! Scott and I stood opposite each other and momentarily held the turkey above the fryer before plunging it into the hot oil.
How were we to know that the bird is supposed to be dry... and thawed! Other than reading the directions that came with the fryer, I mean.
Whoosh! A violent plume of peanut oil blew out of the vat. Our cat-like reflexes allowed us to limit our injuries to second degree burns over just 30% of our bodies, but that same reaction caused us to tip the fryer—spilling fryer, oil, and turkey toward the street.
The now flaming bird surfed a wave of oil as the flames chased it down the driveway. It skipped a couple of times, near the end of the drive, and then skittered across the street, completing a lovely pirouette before dropping into the storm sewer on the opposite side. That should have been the end of it.
Scott and I were dousing the flames that burned a path in his asphalt drive, when our wives arrived on the scene. Just then, a massive explosion rocked the neighborhood! The blast caused smoke and cinders to belch out of the storm sewer drops up and down the street, and left a couple of manhole covers spinning on edge. This brought a number of the neighbors out, as well!
The guys from the fire department never told us what was in the storm sewer to cause that explosion. I’m not sure we would have understood them anyway—they were having a little trouble communicating, what with the choking laughter. They took what was left of the turkey—the burnt carcass and the still cold and wet chainsaw trimmings. They took the fryer too. They left the directions.
Thanksgiving dinner at St. Ann’s Hospital wasn’t so bad, but it wasn’t the best Thanksgiving ever.