Sometimes people ask me to tell The Chicken Story because it answers a lot of questions, such as:
Questions at the time
– What is that noise coming from downstairs?
– Why are there feathers all over my car?
Questions that people ask today
– Why were you laugh-crying during the opening scene of The Hangover?
– What do you mean it hit too close to home?
Even questions that pre-date the event
– Doc, why do I have to get a tetanus shot?
– Mom, why do I have a 1 AM curfew?
2:30 AM – Chicago
Becky and I were riding with some friends in the back of a van surrounded by guitars and drum kits after a gig they played in downtown Chicago. The band was a fun summer project, but these guys were really just graduated-seniors burning some time before real life started. The van screeched to a stop and the driver says, “Dude – is that a … a chicken?”
We all clamored over the seats to look out the windshield. It was a loose chicken running around the streets of western Chicago. This think tank assessed the situation and decided to take custody of said chicken, here forth referred to as Sanders.
3:30 AM – Still Chicago
If you’ve seen the movie Babe, you think you know how cuddly farm animals are. As it turns out, that movie is less documentary and more science fiction. Sanders was smart enough to escape from a slaughter house in the meat-packing district, so he was a slippery son of a gun.
We were like, “Here Sanders,” gentle whistles and tapping knees. Sanders was like “Ef you guys.” And then he ran off like a white bronco in a slow speed chase. When I said that they guys were graduated college seniors, I should also have noted that they were Division I football player. Exhibits A, B, C:
After many failed attempts, Sanders was flipping us the bird [get it?]. The fellows did a quick huddle to strategize the tackle and decided on a real play they used to do. Easy as that, they caught him. Sanders joined the band and we were back on our way home. Taking a page from Almost Famous, I sang Tiny Dancer to him on the ride.
4:30 AM – Burger King
Sanders and Van cuddled up immediately. He was hogging that bird like a single 35-year-old chick hogs the newborn at a baby shower. Van was like, “Stop singing Tiny Dancer, Sanders and I only like power ballads.” And Sanders was like, “I know! Right?”
Back in Evanston, we went straight to the 24-hr Burger King to debrief. The think tank gathered around a table covered in french toast sticks and large sodas. Sanders dozed off napping inside of Van’s wind breaker. Benny suggested we order chicken strips, and Van karate-chopped him in the trachea.
5:30 AM – Beach
At this point we decided to show Sanders a good time. A really good time. “You know what Sanders would like?” asked Marc rhetorically, “Seeing the sunrise over Lake Michigan.” “Yeaaaaaaaaah,” we all agreed in off-key unison. So, we walked to the beach with our new friend. The six of us sat in the sand as it started to get light out. Four of us stripped to our skivvies and swam out into the lake, as you do, while Van and Sanders cuddled on the shoreline.
6:30 AM – Reality
Our driver drove off in the van. Marc, Van, Becky, and I walked home with Sanders. Becky and I bid good-bye when we got to our rented off-campus house where we lived with our other 10 girl roommates. Marc and Van started to hand over custody of Sanders. And we’re like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, I don’t think so.”
Marc and Van explained that they – no joking – had accepted jobs tracking bears in the Yukon. They moved out of their apartment the previous day and were just about to drive their u-haul far far away from here. With no other choice, we built a chicken coop out of those cheap-o wire shelving units students get from Target. We served up a feed bowl of corn kernels from our CSA box. Then, I went to sleep. Hard.
11:30 AM – Damage Control
The other girls woke up. They were less amused than I am hoping you are right now, and they called for an eviction. I needed to get Sanders to a farm animal rescue pronto, which would normally not be a problem. However, my car had been stolen a couple of days earlier (see: Angry Bird for that story).
I went to my neighbor and asked to borrow his car. He agreed, so Sanders and I went for a ride. I cranked the radio to Every Rose Has Its Thorn. “You like power ballads, right Sanders?” He shrugged, missing Van. I was so g-d exhausted by the end of this tale that I returned the car without cleaning up the feathery mess that Sanders left in his wake.
SO, to answer the question: Mom, why did I have a 1 AM curfew?
BECAUSE NOTHING GOOD EVER HAPPENS AFTER 1 AM