There is a woman in town I have named The Chicken Lady. But I am getting ahead of myself.

One recent Saturday, Raylo & I opened the cupboard to find it quite bare. So, we piled the kiddies in the car & headed off to Wal-Mart. (Or, if you’re a local, you have to call it The Wal-Marts. This drives me nuts.) The girls really did a good job during our buggy-filling expedition, with the exception of one fit by one kid who insisted on throwing & kicking a bag of pretzels. I’m not sure what the bag of pretzels did to offend her, but she was willing to take that bag DOWN.

We had only one item left on the list — hamburger meat. So, we walked down the aisle by the meat section and, while still moving, I grabbed the meat & we headed for checkout. Just then, we reached critical mass & both girls started wigging out. We tried to calmly explain that we were finished & leaving right then, but they continued to cry & run away. Before Bean could run far, a middle-aged lady with long gray hair, glasses, and one of those scooter things pulls in front of her. She doesn’t seem to have any apparent disability or injury to require said scooter, but I am not familiar with the workings or non-workings of her limbs. Perhaps it is an issue with her spleen.

The woman looked at me with a huge grin and said: “You know what would help these girls? Get them a chicken to play with!”

Now, I’m in the meat section of Wal-Mart. The only thing I can figure that this woman means is that I should reach over into the poultry case and pull out a whole, raw chicken for my girls to use as a toy.

“Oh, well, I’d be afraid they’d mess it up…..” was my weak reply. Then, I remembered who I was talking to.

On at least 3 occasions I have run into this same lady at Wal-Mart. The first time I met her, I was looking for an item about 2 feet from where she was stopped. All of a sudden and apropros nothin’, she said, “These little handy meals are the best thing for traveling! They say it’s for 2 or 3 people, but I can eat one by myself.” (No, she’s not overweight… just hungry I guess.) Then she holds up a little prepackaged, non-refrigerated, highly-sodiumized food thing &  began explaining that she has to buy a lot of convenience foods because she was preparing to go to a Chicken Show. All of these chicken breeders travel several hundred miles to get their best chickens together and, much like the Westminister Dog Show, they parade around the chickens. This talkative lady even informed me that she had to hurry home with her prepared foods so she could manicure all of her chickens and get them ready for their big show.

I’m sure she meant that she would go home and trim their nails, but all I could see was a little chicken coming up and asking for a french manicure. The next one may want tips and artistic flowers painted. I’m sure another chicken would pick out the glittery pink polish called Sassy Sweet or something sensless like that. (What is with nail polish names, anyway? They make less sense than paint color names. But, I digress…..)

I politely wished her good luck & went on my way. But, every other time I was shopping & we happened to approach the same dairy case or be examining the same peanut butter section, she would begin another of her conversations out of thin air. I have this much to say for her: She always has a smile & a great attitude. She also is really really really into chickens.

That particular day, as it dawned on me that she didn’t mean for me to give my girls a raw chicken, but a real one, the following conversation ensued:

The Chicken Lady: I have the sweetest little rooster that would be just perfect for them! Well, he should be a rooster, but, well, his bits* are deformed and won’t work. And he’ll never grow very big and can’t really crow. They would love him!

mab: Oh, I’ll bet he’s just wonderful! But we live in a subdivision & don’t really have a place for a rooster.

Peanut & Bean: AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! (As they go nutty-crazy running around)

The Chicken Lady: I need to find a good home for the little guy. He doesn’t get along with the others, especially the other roosters. They’re always fighting. So, if you know of anyone who’d like him…. he would be great for kids!

mab: Oh, we’re new in town, so I don’t know anyone, but thanks! I’ve got to get these kids home now. Have a great day!

Only as we were walking away did the entirety of the situation dawn on me: The Chicken Lady thought that if I purchased her small, deformed, mal-adjusted, and angry rooster that my children would be so enchanted that they would never misbehave out in public at the end of a 1 hour shopping trip ever again.

I think I would have better luck if I just gave them a raw chicken.



*Yes, she really called them his “bits.”