Unlike most of my blogs, this one has a moral to it.
Never, ever, ever,* ask a girl to a formal dance using a live chicken.
It all started, as so many tales of failure do, when, like a fool, I decided to ask a girl to prom.** The girl in question happened to be a good friend of mine. To protect her identity and spare her any embarrassment, I’ll refer to her as 'Schmessica'.
My plan was simple: a cardboard box containing a chicken, and a note, situated under the chicken, which read simply ‘Don’t be a chicken. Go to the dance with me.’ I planned a second delivery, which would involve my name hidden cleverly inside an egg.
I parked my car a short distance from her house, and crept stealthily across her lawn and up to her front door. I felt just like James Bond, supposing he was sneaking across a suburban lawn in broad daylight carrying a large box emitting clucking noises as the guy next door pauses from mowing his lawn to stare perplexed and debate calling the police.
I set the box on Schmessica’s step, rang the doorbell, gave a friendly wave to the neighbor (now holding his cell phone in readiness) to let him know I was, like himself, a regular human being who rarely deposits boxes containing chickens on people’s doorsteps, and hid behind a car. So far, so good. It occurred to me later that it would probably have turned out easier for all parties involved if the guy had called the police.
Nobody answered the door. Schmessica’s cat was showing intense interest in the box, so I elected to abort the mission and return later.
Take two: Still nobody home. Cat still showing extreme interest in the Magic Clucking Cardboard Box. Had I returned a third time, the cat would probably have obtained a crowbar with which to pry open the box.
After a second unsuccessful attempt, I was forced to take a break as I went to an employee meeting at my work. It so happens that Schmessica is one of my coworkers; after the meeting, she mentioned that, just minutes before leaving for the meeting, she had been asked to the dance. “Great!” I responded, while the words running through my mind were oh, fetch.
I arrived home to deliver the bad news to my family, who was taking a very active interest in my increasingly desperate attempts to deliver the chicken. “I have bad news,” I told my mom, and explained the new development.
“That is bad news,” my mom said. “While you were gone, we delivered the chicken.”
Fetch. It was of significant comfort, however, that I had not included my name in the note, intending, as I said earlier, to deliver that part separately. For a brief, pathetic moment, I considered simply leaving the chicken unclaimed and kidnapping it back later that night, leaving it forever a mystery of who the loser was who asked her second.
I received a text from a mutual friend, whom I’ll call Schmaley. She was currently with Schmessica and had limited knowledge of the plot. It simply read, You need to come get your chicken.
Why? I replied.
You need to come get your chicken, she replied again.
What the heck is going on over there? came my hesitant reply.
At this point, she called me. If somebody abandons a texting conversation to call you, it’s never a good sign. Good sign? On the scale of Signs and Omens, this one happened to be only slightly below Death Omen. Her message was brief, to the point, and left me scarred forever. She stated certain parts particularly vehemently, or perhaps particularly panicky. I’ve put them in all caps for your convenience.
“The chicken ATE ITS WAY THROUGH THE BOX and is RUNNING AROUND THE YARD like a POSSESSED BIRD. Schmessica has LOCKED HERSELF INSIDE HER HOUSE and WON‘T COME OUT. YOU NEED TO COME GET YOUR CHICKEN.”
“Eh?” I answered.
(At the time, this seemed the best way to convey the emotion I was feeling; specifically, the extreme desire to change my name and flee to Saskatchewan, where I would build a log cabin in the woods and spend the remainder of my days forever alone except for the company of small woodland creatures, none of which would be chickens.)
There comes a time in every man’s life when he must face up to his decisions, confront his fears, and retrieve the possessed chicken. With terror gripping my heart, I drove to Schmessica’s house for some severe damage control.
I saw immediately that the chicken was cornered at the top of a short flight of stairs leading to a side door on her house. Standing at the foot of the stairs with the air of a 17th century mob who had just cornered a witch, stood Schmessica, her mother, a lady I took to be her grandmother, three or four of her sisters, and assorted neighbors and random bystanders. At this point, I was earnestly considering recovering the chicken, then driving it out to a remote desert road and running it over.
It was a fairly simple matter getting the chicken back into another box. It didn’t run around possessed, just stood there clucking and leering at me with the cruel, satisfied smirk of someone who has ended your social life and forever shattered your confidence in one swell foop***. Despite the relative ease of imprisoning it once more, the prospect of taking it out to the desert and running it over was becoming more and more tempting.
After putting the chicken and its prison cell inside my car, the cat, in its fevered desire to get to the chicken, sprang at what it must have thought to be an opening in the car. Cats have apparently not discovered windows. The cat went THUD, face first against the window before sliding down it slowly with a comical squeal.
I apologized profusely to Schmessica, her family, and the assorted neighbors and random, deeply amused bystanders, explaining that the chicken had always been very well-behaved in the past and had never once previously exhibited behavior that would suggest it was possessed by evil spirits. No Brian Regan show nor Saturday Night Live skit has ever elicited more laughter than my deeply contrite, deeply humbled, and deeply, deeply, eternally embarrassed apology.
The icing on the cake came when I learned that, before eating its way out of the box, the chicken had consumed my note, so that Schmessica simply found a crazed evil homicidal demon chicken on her doorstep and no explanation whatsoever. For all she knew, it could have been a deliberate act of terrorism.
My highlight came as I was preparing to leave and overheard the following line, which I feel echoes Napoleon Dynamite’s famous line, “Do chickens have large talons?” I heard it as Schmessica reported the incident to her dad over the phone, who I imagine was doubled over, speaking to her in between gasps of laughter.
“You wouldn’t have come out of the house either! You should have seen the size of its talons!”
A few days later, I received a small cardbox with a note saying “Sorry, this chick has already been asked to the dance.” Inside, chirping innocently, stood a newborn baby chick. The chick’s name: Bigfoot.
*Ever, ever, ever, ever. Ever.
**Not to imply that I should have asked a guy.
***Er, fell swoop.