An Oldie but Goodie – The Chicken Incident
This is one of those stories that can let you know not only that I’m not lying when I say that this whole bad luck/ridiculous shit that only happens to me has spanned the nearly ten years Tony and I have been together, but also demonstrates that it IS possible to block horrifying memories from your psyche for six years.
An elderly family member of my husband’s passed away last Tuesday. The wake was Thursday evening, funeral Friday (which was Halloween, and I hope when I die I can be buried on a day when children parade around in costumes, making the whole experience surreal for the attendees.) On the way to the funeral on Friday (which had its own misfortunes, i.e. who the hell cuts off a funeral procession, stays in said funeral procession, and then stops at a light, forcing the other members of the procession to get lost going ten miles an hour in an incredibly seedy neighborhood,) Tony remarked to me, “Well, if you can manage not to get chicken dumped on you, we’ll have done all right.”
Me. “What?” Him. “You don’t remember?”
Ah, right. Yes, I do. The Chicken Incident. Flash back to 2002. Tony and I have been dating for a little over three years and his papa passed away at nearly ninety years of age. At the time, I still had not met much of his extended family, and you never meet more people than at a funeral, so I wanted to make a good impression under the circumstances. I bought a beautiful (still one of my favorite outfits, although it said goodbye to me forty pounds ago) suit. It was a pale blue, almost knee length jacket that had double buttons down the front paired with perfectly fitting black pants. My hair was nearly down to my waist at the time (you’ll understand my lengthy explanation in just a moment,) and almost white blond.
The wake went smoothly (as opposed to his grandmother’s several years later when we were both too busy vomiting from a violent stomach virus we acquired on CHRISTMAS DAY that we could not attend) and the funeral, while of course sad, was fine, and as good a morning you could expect out of a funeral. We proceeded on to the luncheon afterwards where I was seated with his immediate family, grandmother, and some of their friends who I’d yet to have met. We had a nice dinner/lunch consisting of family style roasted chicken, potatoes, vegetables, and soup. We’re all recounting stories (well, not me, as I’d only met Papa a few times and at those times he thought he worked on the third floor of his single story nursing home and was in Pennsylvania,) (and no, I’m not making fun of Alzheimer’s cause there isn’t anything funny about it. But if you have to have it, I’d much rather that you’re happy as a clam thinking you’re ten states away and two nonexistent floors up than crying in your breakfast, lunch, and dinner.)
Anyhoo, the meal’s about finished and our very nice waitress comes to begin collecting our plates and such. While listening to a poignant story told by my father in law about Papa, the waitress leans to the middle of the table to pick up the family style bowls of food that have been sitting there. Potatoes, check. Soup bowl, check. Vegetables, safely on the tray. Chicken that’s been sitting in its own grease for an hour and a half? Whoops!
In a horrifying slow motion move, her hand somehow slips and dumps the entire pan of roasted chicken grease ON MY HEAD. Not just a little spill on my jacket. I’m talking the full contents of the pan ON. MY. HEAD. Dripping down my gleaming waist length blond hair, from the shoulder to the bottom of my beautiful new pale blue suit silk jacket that was to be worn on an interview for a promotion later in the week. Luckily, I was so horrified by the chicken parts, fat, and grease clinging to my person that I was rendered speechless, so at least Tony’s family remembers me as “the girl who got chicken dumped on her head at Papa’s funeral” as opposed to “The girl who screamed f-bombs at the waitress at Papa’s funeral.” I was shuttled, mute, to the bathroom by my in-laws’ friend who doused me in club soda and gave me a cigarette and a beer.
The waitress, who was possibly more horrified than I was, was in tears, apologizing profusely in broken Polish/English, and they offered to dry clean it and buy me a new one if dry cleaners couldn’t get GREASE out of a silk jacket. Still clinging to my possible good impression, I was very nice and told her it was FINE, mistakes happen, yada yada. I rode back to Tony’s parents’ house with my stinky hair in a ponytail and wearing nothing but a bra and Tony’s good leather jacket zipped to my neck with the chicken-part-covered jacket in a plastic bag in the backseat. Which, as you can imagine, is exactly the look one is going for when riding in a car with their boyfriend’s parents.
Because my mother in law is just that kind of cool, she not only didn’t laugh at me (then. Now, she finds it amusing, to say the least,) she used her amazing mom powers and somehow was able to remove the clucking mess from my outfit and lent me a tshirt. Btw, I was able to wear the jacket on the interview and got the promotion in a department which was promptly eliminated , leading me here.
So yes, as funerals go, Friday was just fine in my book. But to be on the safe side, I took a smoke break while they were clearing the plates.