Death By Chicken
Have you ever done something so dumb, so destructive, so heinous that the memory stays with you for a lifetime?
My husband and I lived in New Orleans but went away every weekend to minister to a small church in Port Sulphur, Louisiana, 50 miles away. I was young and poor and stupid. Emphasis on the stupid part. I still had so much to learn about the savvy of running a household.
On Friday afternoon, I set out a frozen chicken to take with us to cook for Sunday dinner. I left it on our gas stove where I would be sure to see it and take it with us when we left. Before we closed up the apartment for the weekend, I made certain the lights were out, the windows were locked, and the AC was off. We were too frugal to keep the AC running while we were out of town. And, let me tell you, Sister, the temperature was about a thousand degrees in that apartment without the AC running.
As soon as we got to Port Sulphur, church friends invited us for Sunday dinner. I was thrilled that I wouldn’t have to cook and clean up on such a busy day. I never gave the frozen chicken a second thought.
Sunday night we returned to our New Orleans apartment, and it was dark in the little alcove by our front door. My husband fished around for his keys, unlocked and opened the door, and WAS PHYSICALLY KNOCKED BACK. Instantly. On moment he was fine, the next his arms were flailing, and he was making unintelligible sounds. Then a horrible stench almost knocked me over. Actually, horrible isn’t even in the ballpark. Putrid. Deathly. I am not exaggerating. I wonder to this day why the neighbors hadn’t already called Homicide to investigate.
Now, the weird part was we were still in the dark. Neither one of us had yet made any intelligible sound. All efforts went into pushing and shoving to distance ourselves from the horrendous odor. That’s when we heard a thin, eerie WHISTLING. Demonic. Otherworldly. A high-pitched keen calling from the grave.
I managed to hit the kitchen light switch, and we both saw it at the same time. The raw, three-day-old chicken had spoiled to the point where the bag had blown up as large and as tight as a BASKETBALL. There was a tiny pin-prick in the plastic bag and the escaping gas was making the eerie whistling.
It all came to me in a rush. I had left the chicken. It was rotting in the bag. I had to get it out before my husband left me for someone with better sense. I rushed to the stove and reached out to grasp the now giant sized plastic bag. But, the minute my hands touched it, IT EXPLODED.
I am simply not gifted enough to fully describe the full impact of an exploding, rotten chicken. Mere words are not adequate. The stench, my gyrations, the flying parts, the rain of juices, my disrobing, my language. I think I actually experienced the Dark Side.
It took hours…no, days…to clean everything and fumigate the apartment. Even the curtains had to be taken down and washed. Twice.
I’m older, I’m smarter, and I still do dumb things sometimes. But, this experience gave me a gauge for judging all other situations. No matter what I’m confronted with, deep down there is the comforting assurance that it couldn’t be as bad as the chicken.