Most of us have observed domesticated fowl, or as they’re commonly known to us as chickens, at one time or another. I saw some just yesterday, and they were just the way I like them; crispy, fried to a golden brown, and with a delicious flaky biscuit, and a side of crisp coleslaw nearby. Unless you live on a farm, grew up in a country setting, or have a rotten neighbor, who bought a rooster, just to make your life miserable, chances are you haven’t seen a chicken, up close and personal. No, I’m not talking about the ones you encounter in the meat section of your local supermarket, or at your local purveyor of tasty, well-prepared, baked, barbecued, or fried chicken products. I’m referring to real-life, mean and diabolical creatures, spawned from your worst nightmares.
Most people don’t know this, but chickens are pretty nasty members of the bird family. I did some research, and learned that chickens were first domesticated almost ten thousand years ago. Do you know what the term domesticated is, concerning chickens? It means we captured the chickens, locked them in cages, and then prayed they didn’t escape and get us. Do you know that there are almost three chickens, for every man woman and child in the world? That’s either a lot of good eating, or one scary thought. The hens, which are the female chickens are bad, but male roosters are particularly mean. I always wondered why, until I learned that a typical ratio among flocks is (12) hens for every (1) rooster. I have one wife, and she keeps me on my toes. Imagine having twelve! I can understand why they might be a little grumpy.
When I was a kid, my grandfather raised flocks of chickens on his farm. He had one particular rooster that was huge, ill-tempered, and went by the name of “Runfer.” I soon found out why he had this rather unusual name. It turns out that if you went anywhere near the hen house, you better “run for” your life, or he’d peck the living daylights out of you. Did I mention he was big? My grandfather never admitted it, but I swear he bought an ostrich, painted it white, named it Runfer, and put it in the hen house just to mess with my head. Well, I can tell you this – it worked.
Thank God for Colonel Sanders, and his Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises. I actually, have a shrine to the colonel in my basement. Not only did he get billions of chickens off the streets, but he also made them finger licking good. My favorite part of the chicken is the wings. I’m especially fond of spicy hot wings. To be honest, I do sometimes feel bad when I eat them. I can’t help but think about all those chickens running around flapping their stubs while thinking, “Hey, wait a minute here. I could be wrong, but didn’t I used to have a pair of wings?”
My dog, Chase really loves chickens. He just can’t seem to get enough of them. He usually avoids the KFC drive-through window though, and heads directly to our neighbor’s chicken coop. He says, they’re fresher that way, and besides, he’s watching his cholesterol. Have any of you heard of a chicken franchise called Popeye’s? I love their chicken. I guess that old salty sailor decided the spinach business wasn’t taking off like he thought it would, and switched to Chicken. If you think about it, I guess, a bucket of spinach with a side of coleslaw and biscuits aren’t very appetizing.
Here’s an interesting fact, I just read in the Guinness Book of World Records. It says, the oldest chicken ever, was a hen that lived to be sixteen years old. That’s amazing. Frank Perdue’s chickens are lucky if they make it to three months. I also learned, the chicken died from heart failure. I guess, I should tell the owners of the hen, that wearing a Colonel Sanders mask to celebrate Halloween wasn’t such a good idea. On the bright side – I heard she was absolutely delicious.
I have a confession to make. I hate to admit it, but I’m afraid of chickens. I think it has to do with my traumatic encounters with Runfer, as a child. That’s probably why I love to eat them. It’s kind of like my revenge on them for scaring me. I just found out the fear of chickens is known as “Alektorophobia.” Hmmm, that’s strange. I always thought the word meant a fear of Alex Trebek, the host of Jeopardy. To be honest; now that I think about it – he’s pretty scary too.
I don’t know if you noticed, but chickens are getting bigger and bigger. Last Thanksgiving, I mistakenly bought a chicken instead of a turkey for our traditional meal. Do you know what? No one even noticed the difference. The other night I was watching the movie, Jurassic Park. In the movie, Doctor Grant, a paleontologist, asserts birds most likely evolved from dinosaurs. Looking at the size of some of the chickens running around, I don’t doubt it. The only good thing is, imagine being back in prehistoric times, getting a craving for extra crispy goodness, and visiting your local KFC. You could go in, order one leg, and it would take eight of you to carry it out. Imagine a sixteen-piece bucket with sides. Now that’s a meal!
Did you ever notice how many phrases in today’s vernacular contain chicken in them? We often use the word chicken in some type of derogatory manner to mock people. Did you ever have someone flap their arms, while calling you a chicken? How about when someone says you’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Do you know, if you cut off a chicken’s head, it will actually run around in circles for thirty or forty seconds? If you’ve ever seen it, it’s really awesome. As a word of caution though; please don’t try this at home. It really scares the kids.
When we talk about our jobs, we sometimes say our boss is paying us chicken feed. Actually, did you see the latest commodity prices for corn? Maybe we should ask for a raise by saying, “Sir, my review is coming up, and I was wondering if we could discuss the possibility of having an extra bushel or two of chicken feed added to my pay?”
Do any of you have skinny, delicate, and extremely white legs? What do people call you? They call you chicken legs, don’t they? We even have a form of extreme artistic expression which has become popular at wedding receptions. I know you’ve all heard of the “Chicken Dance.” Whoever came up with this dance? Was a farmer’s wife feeding chickens, and accidentally added hallucinogenic mushrooms to their feed? As the chickens were running, hoping and flapping their wings in a drug induced frenzy, did she pause and think to herself, “Wow, look at those chickens dancing around. They seem to be having so much fun. Do you know something? This would make a great dance at wedding receptions.”
When I was a kid my mom once read me a fairy tale called “Chicken Little.” The story is about an intellectually challenged chicken that’s sitting below a tree, and has an acorn drop on his head. He then runs around telling everyone the sky is falling. He even gets geese, ducks and hens to follow him around hysterically as they all yell, “The sky is falling; the sky is falling.” The good news is, the story had a happy ending. The chicken and his friends were eaten by a ravenous fox. Well, that’s one less chicken to bother me.
Oh, I almost forgot. I started eating what’s called organic, or as it’s known in environmental circles; free range chicken. I hear the birds are healthier, and a lot happier. They eat better, and get to run through open fields. They also enjoy the pleasure of chasing down people and then pecking the crap out of them. I’m still afraid of chickens, but I guess a happy chicken is a tasty chicken.
I have to go now and find my dog, Chase. I hope he didn’t head over to Mrs. O’Leary’s chicken coop again. Here he comes.
“Chase, what’s that in your mouth? Is that a chicken?
“Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, woooof.”
“Do you want me to believe that’s the chew toy I got you for Christmas?”
“I know what you’re going to say next. You just can’t help yourself, right?”
“Woof woof woof, woof, woof woof woof, wooooooof!”
“They bother me too, Chase, but you don’t see me chasing them down and carrying them home, do you? Okay, I guess we’ll make the best of it. I’ll go over later, and pay Mrs. O’Leary for the chicken. Now, let’s get this chicken cooked.”
“Woof, woof, wooooooof!”
“I know Chase. The thighs and one wing are yours.”