Life In The Laugh Lane – March 2023

Fowl play

Fresh eggs are delivered in the morning to my kitchen table.

The chicken is one of the few things you can eat before it’s alive and after it’s dead—fried egg, fried leg. There’s probably some live eating here in Asia, but I don’t want to know about it. My first childhood memory of a live chicken was just before its death. The farmer had begun preparing it for dinner with an axe. Henrietta quietly ran around with her head cut off, careening into walls and her buddies. Quite enthralling then, but rather morbid now, it gives me insight into the riding style of motor bikers in Asia.

USA chickens are normally pretty generic—bright white body, flaming crimson head—like a red-haired American just arriving in Thailand in February. My bungalow is surrounded by striking Thai chickens with rasta heads tarred in a multi-colored flurry of feathers—like that same American gone native a few weeks later. They are members of my Natural Food Disposal Corps composed of local dogs, cats, rats, mice, toads, geckos, unidentified flying insects the size of bats, seven trillion ants, Gao the horse, and my landlady’s 200-some birds, turkeys, ducks, geese with honks louder than trucks, and two swans that try to kill each other mud-wrestling in the river. Their efficient disposal often includes any food left for a few moments on the table in my outdoor kitchen.

With that many creature categories, it seems like they could just feed on each other. The roosters are roving, vocally-proficient, time-challenged alarm cocks. Every night I hear of the impending sunrise as they begin their doodle-dooing several hours before the sun is near this side of the world. A passing bike headlight can send them into a doodling frenzy which sets off our neighbor’s cocks which sets off his neighbor’s cocks, and so on, all the way to Bangkok.

It’s not uncommon for one to be outside my bedroom window at 2 a.m., four feet from my ears. I expect to open my eyes and see it on the bed, comb, head and beak resting on the pillow next to me:“Goodoodle morning. The sunrise will be in four hours. Can I get you a fresh egg from one of my ladies?” My next snooze alarm will be a hatchet providing grilled, semi-boneless breast for breakfast.

I read about a “gun” developed by NASA to launch dead chickens at the windshields of airliners, military jets and the space shuttle, all traveling at maximum velocity, in order to simulate collisions with airborne fowl and test the strength of the windshields. British engineers tested it on a new high-speed train—the gun was fired, the chicken shot through the shatterproof shield and control console, snapped the engineer’s backrest in two, and stuck in the back wall of the cabin. After reviewing the disastrous results and experiment procedure, NASA’s response was just three words: “Thaw the chicken.”

I want this machine so at 2 a.m. I can launch a few roosters into the next village or through my landlady’s bedroom window.

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Scott Jones
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