Seth Brown | The Pun Also Rises: Free will and turkey burgers

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The turkey burgers expired in 2017.

In an effort to use up the oldest food in the house before it went bad, last week I dug to the bottom of our chest freezer and found some turkey burgers and some sausage patties. I brought them upstairs and asked my partner which she would prefer for dinner. She looked at the iced-over turkey burgers skeptically and asked me what the date on them was. I told her.

"It's not cryogenesis," she said, "Freezers don't magically keep food good forever."

In my defense, I was raised in a house where food was routinely thrown into the freezer for a few years before being thawed for dinner. Then again, my parents saved everything for years. Just two days before writing this column, I received in the mail a birthday check that my parents had found while cleaning the house. It had been meant for me to receive on my 13th birthday. It was from our neighbors at the time, who moved away from Rhode Island over two decades ago, although to be fair, so did I.

Perhaps that's why meat from 2017 didn't seem very old to me. But my partner insisted that the turkey burgers were no good.

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"OK," I said, "So you'd prefer the sausage?"

She looked at me with her most potent skeptical expression, wordlessly prompting me to admit that the sausage also expired in 2017. I had basically given her two terrible options that were both too old, somewhat gross and completely unfit for purpose.

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Unrelated, the presidential election is coming up. And whether you're a Republicrat or a Democan, you have to admit that your leading candidate is not the brightest your party has to offer. He seems to constantly stumble through his sentences when speaking, he frequently says things that are offensive, and frankly he's a pretty poor ambassador for the principles that your party was supposed to stand for.

And you are planning to vote for him anyway, because you think at least he's better than the other guy. In that fact, half of you are right. But all of you are still selecting a very unappetizing freezer patty.

"But we have to!", you say. "If we don't vote for *him*, it's basically just giving a vote to HIM, that's how the system works."

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I humbly suggest that it's time for a new system, where you can vote for the best candidate without worrying that you're helping the worst candidate. Conveniently, this system already exists, and it's called a VCR. Wait, that's not right, VCRs are a technology that brings us backward. To go forward, we need RCV: Ranked Choice Voting.

The way it works is so simple that the name explains it all: You rank your choices when you vote. So I can say I'd prefer Boot Hat as president, followed by Bird Friend, followed by The Professor, and then as long as the bottom of my ticket has Expired Sausage Patty ranked above Expired Turkey Patty, my vote will always count against Expired Turkey Patty. But meanwhile, I get to vote for not a freezer patty.

This is why RCV was invented: To let you vote for the candidates you think are the most qualified, without worrying that doing so hands the election to the candidate you hate the most. Realistically, it may be too late for us to adopt this system for the 2020 elections. But there's a petition to get it on the 2020 ballot in Massachusetts for use in the 2022 elections, which you can find and sign at

Meanwhile, we ended up throwing out the expired turkey burgers and the expired sausage, and we made a delicious peanut chicken for dinner that night. And we were both very glad to be eating that rather than either of two freezer patties.

Seth Brown, of North Adams, is an award-winning humor writer and the author of "From God To Verse." His website is


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