What the cluck do I have to do to get some eggs?
by Debra DeAngelo
I’m a chicken whore. Not in a fearful slut way. In a “I lust after chickens” way.
Remember the Holstein cows plastered on everything from cookie jars to coffee mugs? So five minutes ago. Chickens are the new cows. They’re totally sexy. Raising them yourself is even sexier.
My BFF Jesse was way ahead of the backyard chicken curve. When she introduced me to her little brood, I watched these huge red, black and speckled hens pecking and scratching in the dirt, and I was hypnotized. I think it’s the clucking.
In exchange for some table scraps and a safe home, Jesse’s chickens produced a steady supply of fresh eggs — organic, and hormone/cruelty-free. Happy Chickens. (Cows: Word.) All the fresh eggs I want. That snagged my attention. I’m a lifelong egg-o-phile. I remember sitting in my highchair, baby spoon in my fat little fist, digging into a soft-boiled egg in my ceramic egg cup with a rooster painted on the side. I bet I said “Eggie!” before “Mama.” No wonder Mom didn’t like me that much.
Boiled, scrambled, fried or poached, I never met an egg I didn’t like. And not just any egg. I’m a total egg snob. Regular supermarket eggs won’t do. I only buy organic, vega-fed eggs from fair trade, free-range chickens. I can actually taste chemicals in the regular kind.
Yes, I really can.
Don’t mess with me.
True, organic eggs cost more. But they’re worth it. But: what if I had my own chickens and could walk into the back yard for my fix. I can see it… perfect sunny side ups on my plate… dipping my toast into those plump, golden, drippy yolks that taste how butter would taste if butter had orgasms.
Oh yes. I must have chickens.
There’s just one hitch.
Chickens freak me out.
It’s all that flappy, screechy hysteria when you disturb them. Like when you’re stealing their eggs. I don’t want to enter their lair, stick my hand under their lady parts and risk their wrath. They’ll leap up and peck me to death and eat my eyes like Teacher Annie.
Yes, it’s irrational. It’s called a phobia. And I’ve had it since childhood, and not just for chickens but anything on the smallish side that flaps at high speed.
Except butterflies because they’re pretty. And they flap slower.
Don’t try to make sense of this, just go with it.
Ironically, moths are the worst. If there’s a moth in the room, I must escape. I know it’ll eat me. Well, it would if it could. It’s not about ability, it’s about attitude. Moths spring from nowhere and fly into your face with the ferocity of a cougar. I sense their tiny viciousness. And they’re peculiarly attracted to me. I must resemble a porch light.
My mother attributed my moth/bird terror to being swooped upon and pecked by blackbirds while playing under our cherry tree when I was little. She did not, however, draw the line between my phobia and the time she plopped me down in my little rocking chair in front of the one-eyed babysitter when I was 3 or 4 to watch “The Birds” and walked away. She thought it was a documentary. Or so she claimed.
As I mentioned, she didn’t like me much.
So help me God if I’m making this up.
But wait, there’s more.
I tried to cure my phobia in high school, and purchased two parakeets and kept them in my bedroom. How could you be afraid of cute little budgies, right? I’ll tell you how: when you have a boyfriend who thinks it’s hysterical to turn the parakeets loose, whip them into a frenzy with his T-shirt, then dart out of the room and hold the door shut so I’m stuck inside with two fluttering, flapping man-eaters. Who know this is no documentary.
In retrospect, I should be a lot wackier.
Anyway. I’m driving this column into the weeds. Let’s steer back on course.
Although the thought of confronting frantic, flapping chickens was daunting, I suddenly desired them anyway. Like parakeets, they’re just so dang cute! I have another friend who named her chickens, and when she brings me little half-cartons of eggs, they’re decorated with each hen’s picture and name, indicating that Harriet laid the blue ones, Gertrude laid the brown ones, and so forth. How precious is that?
Totally precious, until one of those little cluckers gets agitated, leaps up and sinks its beak into your jugular vein.
I weighed it all out, and accepted my shortcomings. Despite lusting for my own chickens, I must settle for quietly coveting my friends’ chickens and hoping they’ll keep blessing me with fresh eggs. But I have to play it cool. If I appear over-eager, it might frighten them off. When they ask if I want any eggs, I don’t shriek, “Yes, yes, YES!” I just reply, “sure,” as I casually examine my fingernails. No biggie. I’ll take the eggs off your hands.
But sometimes they don’t ask. Then I have to buy eggs. Dude. That doesn’t work for me anymore. Backyard eggs are the China White of eggs. I must have them. But I can’t bring myself to ask. It seems so crass. I drop hints by returning their empty egg cartons, hoping for a refill, but they think I’m just being “green.” They don’t recognize a plea when they see it. Clearly, I need to up the ante.
Okay, what do I have to do to get the eggs. Name your terms. I have no shame. Because in the end, I know what I am. A common chicken whore.