Summer’s on and I’m driving. As in, driving a lot.
With nothing much offered in the way of summer activities for Jeb on this side of our island, I’ve committed to the hour and a half, round trip, trekking to art camp for the next four weeks. (That’s an hour and a half in the morning and hour and a half in the afternoon, mind you).
No, we haven’t found anyone to ride share. Yes, this burns a ton of fossil fuel and takes its toll on my vehicle. No, this kind of commute isn’t all that bad in an island paradise. And yes, people all over drive this far to work on a daily basis.
The bottom line is Jeb loves the camp, I get my work done, and the two of us get a little mother/son time as we travel.
This driving has also gotten me out of my limited five-mile radius between home, market and the post office. I’m taking in the sights like a tourist and sometimes what I see is puzzling.
Take for instance, the 8am opening of the tilting restaurant shack, Chicken in a Barrel BBQ. I remember years ago when this was a sandwich and smoothie place. There’s a new sign now, painted with a chicken surfing inside a wave.
In the early morning light, smoke billows from barrels housed inside a chain link fenced enclosure, not far from picnic tables and the roadside. The sun is coming up, as a human dressed in a matted, chicken costume, stands waving at passing traffic. They are pacing in excitement upon giant, orange poultry feet, welcoming passersby and nodding their bobbley chicken beak in greeting.
This all strikes me as peculiar.
So I ask Jeb about it.
“You know that chicken in a bucket place near the road, in town?”
“Mom, you mean chicken in a barrel? It’s barrel, mom. Not bucket.”
“Oh, right. That makes sense. The chicken is surfing inside the barrel of a wave. Of course.” I laugh.
“Yeah, what about it?”
“Well, I noticed the other morning, that there’s this person that is dressed in a chicken costume that stands outside and waves at the traffic, as if they’re trying to get people to come to the restaurant.”
“Yeah, I’ve seen that. So what about it?”
“Well, don’t you think it’s kind of strange?”
“What’s strange about it? It’s a chicken at a restaurant that cooks chicken.”
“Exactly, my point. Don’t you think it’s a little odd to have a chicken in front of a restaurant calling in people to come inside and eat chicken? It’s like it’s saying, ‘Hey everyone, come on in and eat my kin.'”
Jeb still doesn’t see my point. “Right, it’s a chicken telling people about the chicken. What’s weird about that?”
“Okay, well look at it like this. What if a human were standing in front of a restaurant with a bunch of smoking barbecue barrels saying, ‘come on inside and eat some humans.'”
Jeb ponders for a moment as his face morphs into an ‘ah-ha’. “Oh, you’re right! Wow. That’s just wrong.”
“So you see what I’m saying? It just seems strange to me. Why would that make people want to eat chicken?”
We are quiet for a bit and I can see Jeb turning the conversation over inside his head.
My questioning is not an issue of vegetarianism. I’m not thinking about whether or not a person feels alright about eating meat. I’m just wondering about the human mind and how seeing a giant, adult-sized, friendly chicken, is supposed to make a person want to sink their teeth into a smaller version of its smoked flesh.
I break our pause. “You know I’m not trying to be gross by saying humans eating humans. I just was trying to show you a different perspective.”
“No, I get it. I see what you’re saying, that is weird.”
He stops, then looks at me.
“But mom…” and he says this with respect, suggesting a bit more than his nine years of life. “You’re thinking too much.”