Debone

Debone: (v) to remove the bones from meat, fish or fowl

“Keep your eye on the prize.”

It is a phrase that normally is applied to noble ventures promoting moral fiber or spiritual ecstasy.

But I shall now trivialize it.

Because one of the duties I certainly hate on Thanksgiving Day is deboning the turkey

I don’t know why.

I think the main reason may be that by the time I get to the job of deboning the turkey, I am so sick of eating turkey that the sight and touch of it is annoying.

But it always falls my lot to do this particular job. I think it’s because most people share my dismay over defrocking the fowl. So to keep themselves from being drafted for the duty, they offer praise to someone else (that being me).

“No one does it like you, Dad!”

“You find all the meat that’s hiding away, in all the nooks and crannies, behind the bone and cartilage…”

So I keep my eye on the prize.

The duty is made more pleasant by the notion of having a big bowl of loose turkey flesh in the refrigerator that can be grabbed in handfuls, put on a plate, lightly salted and consumed in tiny chunks of delicacy.

Actually, I like cold turkey better than hot turkey.

And I like deboned turkey better than the kind that sits beautifully upright on the table, held together by its skeleton.

Yet I would never recommend going “cold turkey.”

It’s my understanding that it has other definitions.

Chicken Pox

Chicken pox: (n) an infectious disease causing a mild fever and a rash of itchy inflamed blisters

The conventional wisdom of one generation is often the horror of horrors to the next.

When I was a young boy, I contracted chicken pox. I will not say it was a pleasant experience, but when you factor in the attention, ice cream
and time off from school, it balanced nicely.

But the true oddity of the whole event was how the mothers of my friends brought their children to our house and made them play with me, so the kids would all get chicken pox at once–and then it would be over.

It sounds almost medieval. But in their simple way, they realized that keeping the chicken pox alive for months and months, with each child having his day in the sun–or out of the sun, in this case–would be truly agonizing.

So in a sense, what was created was a chicken pox party.

Here were the positive aspects:

  • All the kids could play together.
  • All the kids could benefit from the treats together.
  • And all of the kids could miss school at the same time, so they could study and literally do their homework at home.

It was a simple solution from a simple people who had not yet benefitted from all the vaccinations.

And by the way, had not decided to argue about the value of vaccinations.

 

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Chicken

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.

My father came home with four chickens in their little wooden, slatted pens. The first thing that struck me about the chickens was how damned noisy they were
.

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.

I froze.

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.

 

 

 

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