Monday, July 11, 2011

Why Did the Chickens Cross the Road?

Last Friday I accompanied my sister to the airport. She was putting her two youngest kids on a plane to visit their dad in another state. She asked me to come along for the ride because the drive to the aiport combines three of her least favorite things: Air travel, traffic, and her ex-husband. She was a little stressed, and knowing her ex-husband, I don't blame her.

Besides, driving to DFW International Airport during Friday night rush hour is nobody's idea of a good time. Because someone, long ago, decided it would be a great idea to have three major freeways intersect in exactly the same spot where people are trying to enter the airport. That's how I would have designed it, if I were an alcoholic who knows jack about engineering (if I were, people).

But it's OK, because they're completely rebuilding that interchange. That's right, the spot where three major highways and an international airport intersect is now also a huge construction zone! It's a wondrous sight to behold.

Not shown: purple mountains majesty, amber waves of grain.
It's going to be beautiful someday:

Oh, wait, that picture was taken ten years ago, before the construction started! Let me try that again. It's going to be beautiful someday.

Yikes. See the traffic lanes on the left and right side of the picture? I guess this picture was taken with a very good flash at about 2:00 a.m., because rush-hour traffic more closely resembles this:

Except the killer bees are probably less aggressive than Texas drivers, and at least they defer to the queen. We just had to sit in miles of traffic, waiting our turn to inch forward. There's a reason they don't say "foot forward," you know.

Anyway, we're crawling along, and I'm reassuring my sister that yes, there actually is an airport up ahead, and making fun of the other drivers because, you know, why the hell not?

Why does this guy get to drive a Porsche?
At one point I looked over to my left and saw...something. On the ground, next to one of the concrete traffic barriers that they put up to piss people off because there's clearly no construction going on behind it.

Yeah, yeah, like that.
It was roundish, and lumpy, and sort of orange. Not traffic-cone orange, but more like fake-tan orange. It looked, well, fleshy, and my first thought was that it was some kind of large fungal growth on the side of the road. We were in the center lane, so I only caught glimpses of this thing to my left as other cars drove by. Fortunately, we were going at a speed that could be bested by putting a car in neutral on a slight incline. There was plenty of time to draw everyone's attention to it, and together we puzzled over what it could be.

Then it hit me. It was three chickens. Three plucked, raw chickens, neatly standing in a row against the concrete wall. Like the dancing chickens in Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" video.

Only there were three,
and it was too damn hot to dance.
I'm so sorry I didn't get a picture of them. I was in shock - we all were. How often do you see three raw chickens on the side of the freeway on the way to the airport? For me it was Instance #1. And as it turns out, the sight of three raw chickens leaning against a wall takes more of your brain's processing power than you might think. I created a few artist's renderings so you can see just how jarring an image it is.

See what I mean?

And why were these chickens fake-tan orange? Why, because they were cooking, of course.

Or because they were from Jersey.
Their pale fatty skin was slowly turning golden-brown in the hot Texas sun. And if that doesn't make you want to swear off the Colonel for a while, I don't know what does.

Besides the Doubledown, I mean.
And then, all too soon, they were behind us. Leaving us to wonder whether they'd been tossed out by raw-chicken smugglers terrified of being caught with contraband, or perhaps hungry construction workers with a shaky grasp of thermodynamics and food safety protocols. Or maybe the birds themselves, safely packed in a refrigerated truck bound for a grocer's meat counter or family-style restaurant, had achieved a precious moment of sentience and had flung themselves from their transport, desperately flapping their naked wings in an attempt to taste sweet, sage-rubbed freedom. An attempt that ended, alas, with them huddling together in fright as the blistering concrete slowly roasted them until their juices ran clear.

Excuse me, I need a moment. *snif*

OK, thanks. I'll never know what happened to those chickens, or how they happened to turn up there, on southbound 121 just north of DFW. It's one of life's little mysteries, like why the Kardashians are famous or how long it takes a cell phone to give you brain cancer. But in honor of those fiesty little fryers, I'd like to suggest a name for the new freeway interchange when it finally gets built sometime in 2184.

I think we should call it...The Rotisserie.


  1. Hmmm ... That looks like the Berlin Wall. When I visited there in 1985, I didn't see any chickens up there. They would have been shot by the East German border guards.

  2. I'm happy to say the chickens escaped to the West. They made their way to France and became coq au vin. Every chicken's dream.

  3. What ARE you smoking, Baudelaire?


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