Ellen Greenblatt: The Turkey and the Tesla: A Love Story

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 (Ellen Greenblatt)

What can a Turkey and a Tesla teach us about ourselves? Well, apparently a whole lot.

The tapping noise seemed out of place in the grassy meadow serving as a temporary parking lot. But when I saw a male turkey, parading and fanning out his tail feathers, as if he imagined himself hotter than a peacock, the situation started to become clear. As he spotted what he saw as an attractive female turkey, he tried to chat or maybe cluck her up is more accurate, and the object of his attention seemed interested.

The fact that the response mirrored his was not surprising, since the turkey was flirting with his own reflection, pecking on the shiny black door of a parked Tesla. He clearly couldn’t figure out why his new love object wasn’t responding more enthusiastically to his extravagant tailfeathers and winning attempt to turkey-snuggle, so he looked for another female—and found her, this time in his reflection on the back of the car.

Apparently, turkeys can recognize each other by their voices, and our turkey was liking what he was hearing. Why not? He clearly enjoyed the sound of his own gobble.

It would be easy to dismiss our turkey as a descendant of Narcissus. But, unlike Narcissus, he was not condemned to pine away after falling in love with his own reflection. Our turkey’s crush on himself was accidental and, according to psychoanalysts, was likely just a measure of his own self-esteem.


Are we so different from the turkey and the Tesla? Don’t we sometimes seek and partner with people who look just like us? Are couples that look alike—and sometimes even resemble their dogs—narcissists or just blessed with robust self-esteem? And what is the source of the magic for dissimilar couples, happy as can be, canoodling together?

What can we learn from our feathered friend flaunting his tail feathers to a Tesla? For one thing, we can know to laugh at ourselves. For another, there’s a reason that the song “Lookin’ for Love (in all the Wrong Places”) remains so popular.

With a Perspective, I’m Ellen Greenblatt.

Ellen Greenblatt is a Bay Area writing coach and Point Reyes National Seashore volunteer.