Chicken: (n) a domestic fowl kept for its eggs or meat
Thirteen cents less a pound.
As a boy, my father found out that he could buy chickens that were alive cheaper than he could buy them in the store. For some reason, he thought this was a good idea.
Now, it’s not like we lived on a farm–it was just a residential street with a small garage.
But even though I believed these creatures were not terribly intelligent, they had some sort of sensibility, realizing they were not traveling out in their crates to visit the Lincoln Memorial. A certain doom invaded their screams–or were they clucks? Actually, it was somewhere between a cluck and a scream.
I was seven years old. My father requested I go and bring him an axe.
I will pause here for a second to remind you that we are standing in a Middle America garage and my father is ill-prepared. He has not figured out how to grab the chicken, put it down on a wooden box, take his hatchet and behead the squawker.
He discovers that he doesn’t have enough hands. After all, he needs one hand for the hatchet and the other for the chicken–which is more than a handful. So he turns to me and says, “Son, come here and hold the chicken’s neck down so I can chop it.”
There were so many things in that command that disturbed me that I wouldn’t know where to start.
This made my father angry–mainly because the chicken was beginning to get the better of him, and its claws were reaching up, ripping into his flesh. After being yelled at two additional times, I finally made my way over and placed my small hand around the chicken’s neck.
The poor fowl bastard turned and looked at me.
My dad brought the hatchet down and I found myself holding the head of a chicken as the body flopped all over the garage, spurting blood and spewing feathers in every direction.
We repeated the process three more times.
I never got better at it–nor did my dad.
At the end of the experience, we had a garage covered in blood and feathers, and four chicken carcasses stacked on top of each other, twitching and wiggling.
My dad also failed to realize that after chopping off the heads, there was the process of removing feathers, feet, chicken butts and any number of unnecessary parts that don’t fry up well.
The butchering only happened once.
After that, my dad decided that paying a thirteen-cent-a-pound surcharge for “completed” birds was much more pleasant.