When I was 8, or something, Big Rachel, the neighbor girl, had chickens and her dad, Greg, was fixing to butcher them. In the past, after it was over, I'd gleaned my favorite parts, to save in a super secret garage corner: chicken feet with their natural puppeteering tendons.
This time, Big Rachel wanted to watch the bloody show. I didn't. But she eventually cajoled my reluctant little self into it. As we recently recapped every obscenely vivid detail, she noted, "You really didn't want to watch. But we pressured you into it. We were like, 'Common! It'll be fun!' But you didn't want to. And then the worst possible thing happened." I've never phrased it quite like that. But I'm certainly not going to argue with the assessment. And I've hated chickens ever since. If you've known me for 10 minutes, you know THAT! But I'm happy to eat their "young", their eggs, that is. I consider it an ounce of prevention.
To be clear: I do not hold Greg or Rachel responsible in any way for the trauma. How could anyone have possibly foreseen this? Except me, of course.
Greg popped each chicken into a PVC pipe, head sticking out, one solid whack with the ax, hold, and done. All went well... for a butchering. And then there was this one. I think it was white. The head came clean off, but the body popped out of the tube. Blood pulsed, 3 feet straight up from the open neck.
And it was off and running. After me!!! I dodged right, it dodged right. I dodged left. It dodged left! I double back around. It doubled back!! I glanced behind me. Yes: there was not a single head on the neck. The head was indeed laying at the chopping block. It's angelic white wings flapping as it ran. I was screaming and faint. My audience gawked helplessly. I climbed the tree fort with my last bit of strength. And that chicken plopped over, finally dead, at the bottom.
I'm not sure what I thought it would do once it caught me. Peck me? Squirt me with blood? Lay an egg on my face? Trample me with wire feet? Scare me more?
My kids love this story. They've introduced to their peers a new type of tag. One person is the chicken-with-it's-head-cut-off and everyone else is little Sarajoy's screaming and running from them. It's actually really cute.
Our friends' chicken houses became my home style Fear Factors. I'd dare myself to enter the coops. 20 to 100 chickens pecking at my jeans. The rush! The adrenaline! Yikes! Get me out of here!!! Her 10 year old daughter escorts my crumpled resolve out.
I tell you this today because a life time of poultry-phobia and abject chicken hatred just flew out the window in all of .006 seconds.
I was at the feed store...I don't know why...the chicks were so cute... and within an hour I'd ordered five layers and a coop kit.
And I can't convince myself to cancel the order!!!
I don't think I had repressed chicken-love under all that hate. I just suddenly changed, without expecting to. Lately, my true desires keep jumping out at me: gorgeous couches, cutting off a guest from the alcohol, anger and frustrations, the dorkiest joy dances, or a sudden change of chicken heart. Here I am, popping out all over the place!
The chicks in the mail. The world is full of mysteries, and so am I.