Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Anything for Love? Nah.

Most of you know that I am a potential “crazy cat lady.” 

Despite the fact that I am, in essence, operating a rest home for geriatric felines, complete with deafness, senility and horrifically inappropriate litter box behavior, I still dream of being welcomed into the local cat shelter with the words, “Pick out as many as you’d like, “Susan Says.”  What I bet you don’t know is that I have always wanted a chicken of my very own, too.

Or, if possible, multiple chickens. 

The only thing between me and a yard filled with happy, well-adjusted chickens providing fresh eggs as well as a pleasing sound track of clucking and scratching, is my husband who thinks the cats are more than enough. There also might be a few pesky town zoning restrictions about farm animals on one’s property but that’s another story.

Over the years, thanks to Seth’s selfishness, I was ready to settle for just one chicken. Based on a favorite series of childhood stories of how my mother, in a Brooklyn apartment, had a chicken for a pet, I felt this was not only a family tradition but also entirely plausible.

I've long harbored somewhat deranged visions of happy times with a friendly pullet pecking about in the living room, sitting on my lap during “Dancing with the Stars” or nestling on the kitchen counter as I putter with the pots and pans.  Accordingly, I launched an annual campaign – beginning when the baby chicks arrive at Agway – to achieve this goal.

Seth has been steadfast. No chickens. Or, he suggested, I could divorce him and replace him with a chicken. While this was never entirely out of the question, the unpleasant specter of chicken poop, always lurking in the recesses of my mind, kept this at bay. 

How did one deal with a pooping chicken? I’d never discussed the daily logistics of chicken ownership with my mother during our trips down Memory Lane. We only talked about the fun stuff. Ultimately, my mother’s pet was “taken to a farm” and we’d never addressed the possibility that  “farm” might have been euphemistic for” fricassee,” either. Based on my mother’s innocent smile, I don’t think this occurred to her.
So do I.
This year, while visiting the chicks at a farm supply store, I upped my campaign and went after Seth with all my wiles which, unfortunately, are neither cunning nor seductive. I am, however, an accomplished whiner and sniveler and, later that night, after a beer or six, Seth uttered the magic words. “You can have one chicken.” It was a true miracle!  I was stunned….and scared. Now it was real.

Repeat after me: "Awwwwwwww."
His requirement was that I first thoroughly research the matter and, happy to oblige, I discovered that lots of people do, indeed, keep a chicken in the house. Apparently, chickens are smart and social and even get along with cats. The big problem is that, if you do not want chicken poop all over your home, they must wear diapers. 

You read that correctly: Diapers. Chickens in diapers. Diapered Chickens. No matter how I combined the words, I could not believe it.

Diagram of diapered chicken

Certain this was a joke, I googled on and it ain’t no joke. House chickens wear diapers. In fact, there are instructional videos on youtube showing insane people wrestling chickens into diapers of which there are many types and designs. They cost about fifteen bucks a pop and even come in seasonal designs called, among other things, “Christmas Poinsettia” and “Cranberry Swirl.”

And, like that, my lifelong fantasy of having a pet chicken, went away forever. 
An actual diapered chicken.

I may do a lot of crazy things but diapering a chicken will never be one of them. As I sat by the computer, I could think only of the song from that wonderful record album of yesteryear, “Bat out of Hell” by Meatloaf and I sang  quietly to myself, “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.”  I used to wonder what Meatloaf was implying with those lyrics and now I think I know. Neither he, nor I, will ever diaper a chicken. And that, my friends, is that.*

                                        A great song....even if it is actually about diapering chickens.

*I do, however, thank Seth for his generosity and will reward him with a nice tray of chicken parm.