Many months have passed and my chicken consumption has remained at a high.
I’ve recognized a very specific pattern in the fried chicken consumption routine that is worth noting.
It starts with the walk. I am hungry. I am needing nourishment. I am feeling guilty for wanting yet another tender and juicy breast from Cackalack’s Hot Chicken Shack. I am washed over with the need to jog followed quickly by images of greasy fingers and resentment for not slowing down to eat the sandwich slower.
I get to the cart and Jeff and Steph greet me with a kind hello and some banter. I pan the menu, but only to go through the motions. Both Steph and I know I’ll be getting a Blazer (most days).
I finger some money from my wallet like I’m buzzing through a file cabinet looking for two one dollar bills and a five spot. I surrender the money.
Then I wait. I think about the chicken. I think about my diet and make sure that I’ve countered the grease with at least a pound of edamame and some fruit. “Maybe I’ll run tonight”, I say to myself. Five minutes later the white wrapper is handed to me by Jeff, with a grin–Always asking me if I need napkins or a bag. I decline and we wish each other well.
Forgetting everything that I’ve thought to myself up to this point, I quickly skip home across NE 20th back to my house. The sun beats on my neck, but the breeze cools me off. In the shade, I wrestle my keys out of my pocket and grab the heavy chicken package with my left hand as I open the door. Like a kid at Christmas, I kick open my door, plop onto my desk chair, and scoot the keyboard away to make room.
I unwrap the sandwich as if it is a seduced whore. Yanking the paper away to expose its tender bits. Glossy insides. I pause. I look off to my right out the window where I can see the food cart in the distance and I give a small thanks to the Portland Food Cart gods for this meal. With both hands I scoop the sandwich up and bite off a little breading from the chicken. Always crispy and slightly spicy, the morsel melts into a delicious preamble of what will be a symphony of chicken meat exploding in my mouth. The flavor pains me. I think about all the years I never had this. I think about the chicken and I growing old together. I think about us prancing. Prancing anywhere. There is a heat that can’t be duplicated by human touch. Only the chicken and my tongue-mattress understand the love affair that is going on inside of me. The only relief I’m given is by the cream of the coleslaw. And then, like it never was, it’s over.
I’m left with an empty piece of paper, some remnants of the clothing of my lover, and greasy hands. Much like many of my experiences in life.
I feel as though one day my chicken will stay with me.