Thursday, August 13, 2009

Chicken Like Me

I meant to tell you about the chickens. When I came back from Olcott Beach, I discovered that two chickens had taken up residence on the lawn of an apartment complex across the street. Right, OK – but I don’t live on Old MacDonald’s Farm. I live in Chicago.

I took a few photos of the chickens. One is white and one is black – together they were the Yin and Yang of free-range urban life.

Everyone who walked the street stopped to gawk at the chickens in the bushes. Dogs pulled against their leashes trying to get a whiff and a taste. I fed the chickens popcorn and, as a much as I enjoyed the diversion, it occurred to me that I should lend a hand towards getting the chickens off the street. The idea was to have a county employee stop by (maybe in a red convertible) and offer the chickens a ride to a fairyland/coop, where they could raise chicks and live as one. Like a big dummy, I called the local administrative office about the chickens but was told that my neighborhood has no animal control officers and to (more or less) suck it. I thought that was the end of it until the cops came.

The cops beat the bushes with their batons, hoping to scare the chickens out of hiding. This did not work. Also, it was about 500 degrees that day and everyone knows that patience fries at anything above 85. The cops left a young man behind to figure it out. He was wearing official-looking khakis and a polo shirt, so I’m guessing he must have been some kind of trainee with no seniority. The man brought an empty file box with him, just like the kind you have in your office. It was so, so not a convertible.

While the baton swinging and waiting game went on, residents at the apartment complex became agitated. It started with a blond woman in a tube top, who was announcing to neighbors and passers-by that the cops were after the chickens. “Can you believe it? Who would call up on the chickens?”

Other tube-topped people came out to peek and old ladies with dogs stopped and stared. One geezer in a t-shirt and boxers came outside on his walker. “Leave the chickens alone!” he yelled. “They aren’t hurting anyone! Leave them alone!” Ut oh.

I’m watching all of this and I’m thinking, “Holy shit. These people hate me now! They think I hate the chickens!” I cursed my happy daydream about chicken parks with fountains and golden nests. Just then, Khaki Boy caught the white chicken and shoved it into a box.

The young man was growing weary - of the complaints, the heat, who knows? He split and left the chicken of color behind. Poor little dark meat is still on the street. Isn’t that always how it goes?

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Big Bang Booty

To celebrate my first day of a smoking cessation program I enjoyed a full pack of cigarettes. I’ve begun taking a prescription medication to quit smoking, one that causes some people to develop suicidal tendencies and act violently, but the worst side effect I’ve experienced so far is gas. Not just any gas, but legendary, prolific gas. If I put a kazoo up my rear, I could blow the entirety of “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana. During the first week of this program, I'm allowed to smoke my face off. If I have one left after the gas attack.

Pardon me. Excuse me. “Life begins as a gaseous cloud,” I tell myself. “These are not farts – these are my nebulas.”

The pill I am taking works like this: It finds the pleasure centers in my brain where nicotine parties, and then refuses admittance to any and all comers. Nicotine is deflected and thus, I lose what I like to call The Ahh Factor while smoking. Without the Ahh I don’t receive a punch of dopamine when smoking, but I am suddenly aware of heaviness in my lungs, the wreaking stench of cigarettes and my overburdened ashtray.

You wouldn't believe what I've done in the past to keep smoking. I've stood outside in blizzards and thunderstorms. I've picked up lit cigarettes I dropped on the pavement to spare my fix, places where dogs poop and bums stew. I have gone out of my way to make time, space and money for this habit because I enjoyed it very much. Turns out I don't really like smoking. I'm just in it for dopamine.

I bought a pair of sandals earlier this summer, and I never wear them because they make a farting sound when I walk. I put on those sandals yesterday and when I got my stride on, I sounded just like an idling tiller. This quit-smoking program is making me famous in ways I could only dream about.

Gotta run now – it’s time for my pill.

Later today: A story about the chickens in my neighborhood. In Chicago. The cops came…

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