My chicken thing was not, initially, an egg thing.
—“The It Bird” by Susan Orlean
It makes sense to clean and pack chickens near the place they’re raised.
—Georgia, by Elmer D. Williams
If I’m not continually looking for different ways to get information into the brains of students in hopes that it will stay in there forever and be used to save the world, then I’m not doing my job, even if it’s a quiet Saturday morning during Labor Day weekend at the local Publix in aisle 7 when all I came in there for was some sugar coated cereal flakes and pork ribs. I also deeply enjoy a quiet but intense perusal of the toy and office supply section. Been that way since I was a kid.
Nerdy, I admit. But who doesn’t imagine all those spiral bound notebooks, one day soon, full of the correct answers and charming caricatures of their teacher’s heads.
In the bottom shelf of the toy section there was a box of rubber chickens. Not the big ones that are hollow and way too creepy, but ones the size of hot dog buns—packed with some sort of foam, plucked looking, with the bumps and everything. Painted chickens … in colors of yellow, orange, and blood, with a big belly and skinny chicken legs and the red claws. I held one in my hand and looked it over and squeezed it. Attached to one of the claws was a tag that read, Crazee Chicken. Made in China by a company called Ja-Ru. There’s a picture of a chicken’s head busting through an egg, but the chicken’s head is the head of a middle-aged chicken in all the mature chicken colors, with the creepy, floppy, fleshy comb thing perked straight up. The chicken is happy and is smiling. In a word, expectant of wonderful things about to happen in eighth grade Georgia History special education. I wondered what the security guy watching the proceedings in aisle 7 on a little TV screen might have been thinking: Middle aged man, at 10:36, in some nice golf shorts and nice loafers … Cole Haan, maybe, but well worn … the man ponders … for an unusually long time … our rubber chickens. Middle aged man in loafers grabs another chicken, looks to the left and then to the right, and then reverently puts both chickens into his shopping cart next to the Fruit Loops.
I’m rolling away but then I glance back to see how much they cost. Less than an 8 pack of toilet paper but much more powerful. I have an idea that will change the future of education around the world and forever. At least in classroom number 1861. I think that’s my internal phone number, too. But I don’t know because I think calling yourself on your own phone is downright goofy.
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