Monty was a jerk. A turkey. An overstuffed, giblet-jammed tom gobbler. That’s what people called him, especially his in-laws.
There wasn’t any real reason to object to his marrying into the family. He wasn’t violent, or a drug addict, or a criminal.
He was just . . . obnoxious.
Monty was large and loud. He laughed gratingly at his own un-funny jokes. He was ignorant, but proclaimed his expertise. About everything. He was greedy and self-centered and repellent in so many ways.
In general, he was just a pain to be around.
But he was devoted to his wife, dragged her along with him to everything he was interested in. You couldn’t say that he left her home alone, sobbing. The young couple was the despair of his parents, with whom they lived, but that was their look-out. Every attempt to get a job and move out failed for some reason.
The family sighed in despair, and said, “Oh, that’s Monty. What are you gonna do?” and tried to get used to him.
Then, one day, something changed. It was hard to notice at first. Perhaps that first sign was when he was in a grocery store with his wife, who was doing her mother’s shopping, when Monty decided to buy Mom a coffee cake. With his own money. “She’ll like that,” he said. And she did.
The next sign was when he started bring Christmas presents to family holiday gatherings. He even brought one for a guest who always spent the holidays with the family. They weren’t great presents – inexpensive folding knives and cheap wine, which, given his work situation, were nevertheless impressive. It was clear he was trying.
He started giving and accepting hugs, asking first and thanking the person afterward. He went to Christmas church services so that his mother-in-law could point to the row of people and introduce them proudly as “my whole family.”
It was like watching a turkey drop its feathers and morph into a human. It was a stunning alteration to the family that had merely put up with him for all those years.
To what could they attribute this change? Age bringing maturity, perhaps? His wife’s devotion to her family? A Grinch-like conversion?
The answer may never be known. Some people think it was due to the job he finally landed. It didn’t pay enough to get Monty and his wife out of his parents’ basement. But it was a job delivering meals to shut-ins and seniors.
Maybe that job inspired him to think about the wants and needs of others. He might have learned, after taking care of other people day after day, that other people needed and deserved attention. Perhaps he saw that he could make a difference.
Whatever the reason, Monty changed. He still laughed at his own jokes, but not as loudly. He still bought himself hobby gear and collectibles and toys. He still expounded endlessly about them. But now it was bearable to be in a room with him for more than half an hour. Now the hugs could be comfortably returned. Now Christmas with the family wasn’t an ordeal for everyone.
Monty had grown into the family. And grown out of being a turkey.