Daris Howard

Daris Howard

Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright and author, can be contacted at daris@darishoward.com. Visit his website at www.darishoward.com.

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At a recent church social, we got to talking about chickens. It was a strange topic to settle in on as we were socializing, and I thought it would be a dull discussion for the evening. And I’m not even sure how we got there in the first place. I think Julie said something about her husband, Kevin, being retired and not having anything to do. So, she had suggested that he get chickens.

“Chickens definitely did give him something to do,” Julie said. “Or more to the point, it gave him something to complain about.” She then turned to Kevin and said, “Didn’t it, Dear?”

Kevin rolled his eyes. “It’s always something. They start molting and quit laying. They decide there is one chicken they don’t like, and they all peck at it. It goes on and on.”

“Well, I suppose it beats complaining about politics,” Sally said. “When my husband gets annoyed with a politician, that might be all I hear about for weeks.”

“Do any of you name your chickens?” Carol asked.

“My husband does, and he doesn’t,” Sally replied. “He told our grandchildren every chicken was named ‘Doomed,’ and now our youngest granddaughter goes around pointing at each chicken saying, ‘You’re doomed, and you’re doomed, and you’re doomed.’ The funny thing is, she doesn’t understand what she is saying and thinks it’s just a name.”

“I have never let my children name any of our chickens,” I said. “I didn’t want them getting too attached to them.”

Kevin said he made the mistake of letting one of his granddaughters choose one of the chickens as her own when she stayed with them for the summer. “Next thing I knew, she had it sleeping in her bed with her.”

“Kevin’s old aunt has a bunch of chickens,” Julie said, “and she named every one. They are all pets. When she comes out, they come running because she often has little treats for them.”

“And it’s not just her they come running to,” Kevin said. “They get so underfoot that a person can hardly walk across the yard.”

Julie nodded. “His aunt told him that he ought to name his chickens. She said he would like them a lot better if he did.”

“I doubt it,” Kevin replied. “I’m sure they would taste the same either way.”

Julie whacked him playfully. “You know very well that’s not what she meant.”

“Well, I did name them,” Kevin said. “I named them after all the girls I liked in high school. I even named the one rooster I had after the high school quarterback who used to make my life miserable. Kind of seemed appropriate since the rooster doesn’t seem to like me very much. I named the prettiest chicken after the girl in high school that I thought was the prettiest.”

“I bet it would please her to know that,” I replied. “Maybe she would name something of hers after you.”

Kevin laughed. “She didn’t even know I existed, and she couldn’t name anything after me because she didn’t even know my name. And if she ever figured out what my name was, she wouldn’t name a kickin’ jacka . . .”

Julie whacked Kevin again. “Kevin, we’re at a church social.”

Kevin sighed. “Okay. She wouldn’t name a. . . um, a dad-blamed donkey after me.”

I laughed. Maybe chickens were an interesting topic of conversation after all.