Chickens and Other New Friends

Posted: May 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Daddio, Discoveries, Friends and Strangers, Housewife Superhero, Husbandry, Little Rhody, Mama Posse, Miss Kate | 5 Comments »

What can I say? I’m my father’s daughter.

Which is to say that I love people. To the extent that any time I encounter someone new, I get all silly excited and need to cinch in my personality girdle so as not to freak them out and scare them away with my unleashed extroversion and super power of non-stop talk.

I get all “Can I pet the rabbits, George? Of Mice and Men Lenny-like. Fearful that my over enthusiastic adoration could result in the tragic unintended death of the very objects of my delight.

So, my Dad. My wedding presented him with a thrilling experience to revel in a sea of humans. Many new people to him—friends of Mark’s and mine who he’d heard about over the years, and who represented a fine pool of pre-approved potential cohorts.

And it was so easy. They were all conveniently making their way to his small town, a special delivery straight into his social lair.

Fresh blood!

The day before our wedding, our most excellent friend Gary—whom I like to talk about here in hopes that as my most devoted reader and fervid lurker I might incite or somehow bewitch him to post a comment—was meeting us at my Dad’s house to help Mark with the rehearsal dinner booze run. (Gary being, quite literally, an expert in the alcohol arts.)

Mark and I got hung up in the Mayberry-like town office where we had to get our marriage license, running past the time when we’d asked Gary to arrive at Dad’s. Under normal circumstances this would be no big thing. It wasn’t like Gary’d not be understanding about our lateness, or frankly had much else to do that lazy afternoon on his visit to Bristol, Rhode Island. He was, quite gallantly, at our service.

But as Mark and I made our way through the painfully slow air-conditioning-free paper pushing, there was a certain low grade agitation we felt to hurry the process along. Gary was one of the first guests in town and was arriving alone and unwittingly at my father’s door. The poor guy had no idea how he was presenting himself directly into the eye of the storm. It was like my father was standing there rubbing his hands together, desperate to ensnare the first object of his charm, intellectual banter, and letter-writing. (Dad is, perhaps single-handedly, working to keep the practice of letter writing alive. He developed no less than three new correspondents at our wedding who I believe he still communicates with via the USPS to this day. Some day I’ll tell you about his writing a letter to me nearly every day I was at college. Oh, and his envelope art.)

Anyway, who was I? I mean, where are you?

Right then. My Dad. And Gary. Once Mark and I had our marriage license in our literally sweaty hands, we hopped into our car like Bo and Luke Duke, slapping the rooftop through the open windows and hooting that we needed to get to the house and pull my dad off Gary, stat.

On the short drive through town, around about the sea wall coming up to the house, we see my father’s car approaching and then, like a slow dream sequence, passing by us, with Dad driving and Gary in the passenger seat—looking out and mutely beseeching us with wide eyes.

“My God, he’s got him!” I squealed to Mark, slapping a hand down on the dashboard. “Damn it, where the hell is he taking him? Do you think we should put out an Amber Alert?”

Blessedly, moments after passing us, we saw Dad’s car slow down and turn around, heading back to the house. And in the driveway learned that, after all the waiting around in the living room, my father offered to give Gary a tour of the jewel of our small peninsula-shaped town, its beautiful harbor, or ‘HAAA-buh’ as Gary put it, not unkindly (or inaccurately) emulating Dad’s local accent.

Anyway, the fact is, Dad’s one hell of a charming and interesting guy, and was adored by young and old alike that weekend. But it’s fun to make fun of his rabid new friend fetishism, mostly because I think if I talk about him a lot, it’ll detract people’s attention from mine.

In the past several months we’ve gotten a new batch of neighbors around here. And I’m all a’tremble with the excitement of it all.

For an excessively social stay-at-home mother, fresh blood in the neighborhood is tantamount to having your best friend move into your prison block ward. These are the few people who, aside from the ones that I gave birth to and whose noses and asses I tend to wiping, I get to see and interact with every day. To most people, a friendly nod from the mail man is a fleeting blip with no notable social merit. But to me, a raging people person who’s often confined to my domestic workplace like a wild cur tethered by a chain to a spike, even the smallest outlets for social stimulation are greedily devoured, wholeheartedly savored.

One set of new neighbs are an adorable unmarried couple who happen to be the former tenants and chums of my Mama Posse friend Mary. And get this, she’s a children’s clothing designer! How lucky is that? It’s like having a member of Schlitz family royalty move in next door to your alcoholic ass. She’s even already given the girls a bag packed with beautiful brand new duds—free!

On the other side of us, a deeeelightful sweet funny couple, two guys, relocated from Palm Springs. It was all I could do to not drool on their fabulous mid-Century furniture (that aqua couch!) the day they moved in. Never mind harboring secret fantasies of us all shoe shopping, or doing home avocado and oatmeal facials while watching old timey movies—me snugged on the couch between them, them not knowing how they ever got on before knowing me.

And then across the street, the object of my latest most ardent friendship crush, is a hilarious quirky columnist for the local alt weekly, a fried-chicken crazed foodie, musician, and, get this, nanny! I mean, hell-o-ooo. Pinch me!

Each time I see one of these people on the sidewalk, it takes every morsel of my self-restraint to not wrap my arm around their heads in that about-to-give-a-noogie stance, and just squeeze them with love and unbridled joy. (Note earlier excessive-rabbit-petting Lenny-like behavior.)

Tonight we went to the kids clothes couple’s house to meet their new chickens. Well, chicks really at this point. Turns out they’re requisitioning a part of their large front yard to, yes, chicken farming.

And I must confess that, beyond Kate’s immediate through-the-roof delight to hear her very own petting zoo was moving in two doors down, it took me a bit longer to come around to this idea. Chickens? I mean, I’m not sure where chickens are supposed to live, but isn’t it in some large unsanitary warehouse-like facilities where they’re tightly packed and pooping on each other before they make their way to Styrofoam and plastic grocery store packaging? Or, barring that, out grazing on some wide open farm in Sonoma, tended to by kind hippie folk? I wasn’t sure how to meld our urban-suburban Rockridge ‘hood with the concept of live poultry.

But I can follow a social cue like a Lab on a pheasant. When these neighbors would remark about other people’s reactions to their chicken-adopting news, they’d say things like, “She was all, chickens?! Aren’t they loud?” or “Wait, won’t chickens SMELL?” And I was all laughing alongside them and scoffing at the petty ignorance of those other neighbors, when really I was thinking, “Well, uh, aren’t they? Don’t they?”

But, you know, wanting to be one of the cool people, before you knew it I was leading the scoffing sessions with other newcomers. “Can you believe she thought that chickens would be crowing in the morning like roosters? How naive!”

Tonight as we were huddled inside Chicken Daddy’s small bathroom, where the chicks are in a crate with a heat light til they’re robust enough for coop livin’, Kate and some of the other neighbor kids got turns holding the little puff balls. And another Mom and I remarked on the cuteness of the two with racing stripes down their backs, which we learned were called Americanas, which in my mind for some reason sounded like some kinda Cuban cigar. But what do I know.

Chicken Daddy started talking about how the gender of the chicks is determined by someone called a, get this, chicken sexer. (Or should that be “Chicken Sexer” with caps?) But how weird-slash-cool is that? The way a chick’s gender is determined is, he alleged, a well-guarded secret and something that’s actually impossible to assess by just looking at the wee thing’s privates. And so, these people called—I just have to say it again—Chicken Sexers, do some sort of black magic juju laying of the hands or something on these chicks and proclaim with astonishing accuracy whether you’ve got yourself an egg-layer or a crowing cock.

But I was running late for Baxter’s yoga class, much as I wanted to stay and learn more, when Chicken Daddy started to say something about some big renowned Chinese Chicken Sexer, that I really wished I could have stuck around to hear. Like this Chinese dude is the Chicken Sexer Grand Master or guru or something, who holds the secret and is never wrong. Must hear more about this person, and print out a poster of him for my closet door.

Anyway, so it looks like at some point down the road we’ll be getting some fresh fresh eggs from down the road. And Kate will start spending time communing with the local chickens instead of begging to watch Blues Clues, or taking up drugs. And frankly what a breath of fresh—if not slightly chicken-shit fetid—air that’ll be.

Plus, it’ll give me an excuse to get out there and bask in the glow of all our divine new neighbor folk, who I just can’t wait to get my hands on.


5 Comments on “Chickens and Other New Friends”

  1. 1 Nell said at 3:36 pm on May 14th, 2009:

    My cousin, in Portland (OR), keeps us up to speed with her chickens via FB…I asked her if I should try urban chickenkeeping, mentioning that I live in a neighborhood called “Red Fox Forest.” She said, uh, no, the foxes are already licking their chops.
    I can also identify with the adoration of good neighbors. After years and years of moving, I have a recurring fantasy in which all of my dearest friends share a cul de sac with me…the actual location is a bit fuzzy but it’s somewhere in that magical place that’s close to everybody everywhere.

  2. 2 Ariel Evnine said at 9:20 am on May 15th, 2009:

    I can’t believe our good fortune:

  3. 3 Becca said at 4:49 pm on May 15th, 2009:

    Why do you think we moved one block. There was no way I was leaving these people in the name of a hip crib. The mental image of Gary being kidnapped by your dad is just fabulous…

  4. 4 Dad said at 8:09 pm on May 15th, 2009:

    For years I felt that my social prowess was caused by my natural reserve and shyness..but to read that that is not the case pleases me…and to be mentioned in your blog at such length really makes my day…in my defense, granted that i do like people, those people usually are very interesting and without any arm twisting, become as outgoing as me….On the other hand , I have always felt that your love of meeting new people and being able to talk to anyone on any subject, is one of your greatest charms… you, kid -Dad

  5. 5 Mary said at 10:15 pm on May 15th, 2009:

    Well that was BEYOND as my mom would say. And, um, hi kristen’s dad! I really need to be swept up by him. And You Need to read this post aloud at your first book signing.

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