Sunday, August 07, 2005

Encore Presentation: Tastes Just Like Chicken

Originally posted April 12, 2005

Kelli and I spent last Christmas Day with my in-laws in Wasilla. Dianne and Creig both grew up in the deep south (Alabama and Louisiana) and told some great stories.

I would never have imagined sitting at a table listening to a story which began “I remember the first time I ate possum…” but both Dianne and Creig had possum tales. Those stories were interesting but not nearly as fun as the story of how my mother-in-law learned proper road-kill etiquette.

Dianne grew up in a rural area of Alabama and her family was relatively poor. She remembers that a typical Sunday family outing would consist of her father taking them on a car ride through the dusty winding backroads. On one such occasion their car crested a small rise and encountered a group of their neighbor’s Guinea Hens in the road. Thinking they had accidentally hit one of them, her father stopped and backed up to look for the dead hen. He explained that it was only right to find the dead animal and deliver it to the neighbor with an apology and with the news that the animal was freshly killed so they could at least get a meal out of it. He looked around, saw no obvious sign of road-kill, and they continued on their way. Later they arrived home and piled out of the car only to find the hen stuck in the grill of the car. Being far away from the scene of the accident, Dianne’s family took advantage and ate the hen for dinner.

Dianne remembered this incident years later when she was driving by herself and hit a chicken (apparently they do not always cross the road, no matter why). She knew the chicken belonged to a black family who was even poorer than her family and she felt duty bound to take the chicken to them. She approached the door to the family’s house and knocked. There was no answer and she found a note saying “Gone to the Sto.” Assuming this meant they were shopping, she left the dead chicken on their porch and hoped they would understand this was part of the rules of road-kill.A little later in the day, and after she’d gotten home, Dianne had a startling thought. A lot of black families in the southern Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana area still believed in Voodoo. What if the family in question had come home to find the dead chicken on their porch and interpreted it as a curse being cast upon them? They might very well simply move from their house as a result of this. This one incident could change their whole lives.To this day, Dianne has no idea what became of the family in question. She has not left a dead chicken on anyone else’s porch either.