Moving to the country and starting a family has made for lots of great stories for this kid from Da Bronx. You see, where I come from we weren’t allowed pets. Parkchester in the 60s and 70s had rules about having pets The rule was, no pets. And having this rule made it easier for our parents to say no when we asked if we could have a puppy. Of course I never asked for a puppy. I don’t know why but I just have never been a dog person. Now please don’t hold that against me, I can’t help it. I guess I was just born that way. Despite the rule though some people living in Parkchester managed to sneak by with a pet. Mostly cats, but of course there were the goldfish, snakes, turtles, and parakeets. I even had an Iguana, named leapist. Did I say that this is a true story? Well it is.
But living in country in South Carolina, with a wife that grew up on a dairy farm, and two young daughters tends to change a man. Rebekah was maybe 2 and Hannah only 1, and something about that messed up my head I guess, and Daddy brought home a black lab puppy. Oh the girls loved that dog, as did their mother. And seeing how much pleasure this brought them, when Easter was getting close and I saw that sign at the feed mill advertising baby chicks, well, how could I deny them this experience. Now I did tell you I am really not a dog person, or an any animal person for that matter, that is of course unless they happen to be on a plate with vegetables on the side. So being inexperienced at having animals as pets, I guess I can be excused for what I am about to relate to you. I hope so anyway.
I had never bought a chicken before that wasn’t at least dead, but usually dipped in batter and fried. So when I went into the feed mill I had no idea what to expect. It turns out there are lots of kinds of chickens that you can purchase as babies, chicks, I mean. There is no way I could remember all of the names of the different ones they told me that they had that day, and it doesn’t really matter to the story. All that does is that I said, “I’ll take four of those little white ones”. They looked clean, and fluffy, and perfect for Easter. Why four, because that would be one each for me, Naomi, and each of the girls. So here comes Daddy, city boy to country man, walking past the little white fence I had built outside the single-wide mobile home we were renting at the time. Built so the girls could play in safety and the puppy wouldn’t run off on them. Past the fence and up the four steps into the house. Bekah and Hannah of course both come running to the door to greet Daddy, cause that’s the way it was back in the old days. And now to show them the surprise.
Quick reminder, I was still new at both parenting and country living.
Before Mommy could say a thing, I sat the girls down on the floor and pulled out the small brown box I had. And then, opening the box, I could just see the joy and excitement in their little faces as these fluffy, tiny little chicks came out and began dancing around in circles and chirping. Wow, what a moment, making memories with my three girls, the kinda of stuff in movies. My two daughters were so happy and giddy, and almost as excited as the chicks, when to my surprise the puppy, who had been sitting next to them, moved forward to have a look also. Oh we were such a full and happy family all of us, and now with four new members until without warning, the puppy sucked all the chicks up into his mouth like the latest model from Elextrolux. In an instant everyone was beyond stunned, except of course my wife Naomi, who, if I had consulted first, would have surely averted this tragic moment.
Now who would have thought that such a nice little puppy could do such a thing. Not me apparently. Four little fluffy white chicks in less than two seconds. Nothing left but three or four tiny feathers floating quietly toward the carpet. The girls were surely traumatized for life. Of course we don’t mention it at all at home now. Just let it go, too painful and hopefully they will get over it without too many lasting effects.
Me, yeah I have gotten over the horrible events of that spring day. Since then we have had seven more children, four more dogs, twenty something cats, a couple of dozen snakes, mostly of the non venomous variety. Birds, lizards, rabbits, chickens galore, a pony, every kind of living thing you can imagine. In fact almost every kind of creature that Noah had on the ark, but it has been a learning experience, and truth be told I’m still not an animal person, cept’… I do like my Chicken Fried! True story, really.