Barry Smith: Irrelativity
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
As I write this, I can’t help but notice that my office smells a little bit like chicken.
And I don’t mean in the culinary, somebody’s-barbecuing-something sense. More like the living-downwind-from-the-chicken-farm sense. Yes, that kind of chicken smell.
For the past month, my office has been used as a temporary chicken domicile. I never thought I’d utter these words, but I have an office full of chickens. (Interesting cultural note: Those very same words, if spoken in French, become a saucy double entendre, whereas in English, they don’t even pass the “that’s what she said” test.)
Looking back on my past few columns, I can see how having an office full of chickens has influenced my writing. For example, just two weeks ago, while writing my scathing column on the Republican Party, I see that I included the sentence “Bock-bock! Bock! Squawk!”
Weird that I didn’t notice that at the time. As they say, hindsight is bock bock bock.
But all that will change later today because the chickens are finally old enough to be moved into their new house, a brand-new, deluxe chicken coop created by my brother, my uncle and myself. It features hot and cold running water (cold at night, hot during the day – and “running” is pushing it), a constantly restocked buffet (bugs), a day spa (dirt) and, most of all, ventilation.
Not that these chickens smell bad or anything. In fact, I’m beginning to grow fond of the smell. Smells like victory. I might even miss it when it’s gone.
But more than the smell, I’ll miss the companionship. I’ve never had any experience with chickens before, apart from the aforementioned cooking of them, so it’s all new and fascinating to me. I’ve been spending lots of time with them while they’ve been in the office with me. I even taught them some tricks, like how to peck my hand when I put it in front of them and how to run away when I try to grab them. I’ll miss that. But most of all, I’ll miss the distraction. If you’re looking for something to help you procrastinate, nothing fits the bill better than a dozen chickens in the same room with you. I think I can say with some confidence that watching chickens is even better than watching TV.
No, really – everything I could hope to get from a TV show I get from watching the chickens for half an hour. Twenty minutes if you don’t count the commercials.
Gripping intrigue: Placing a small stool in their little makeshift coop (they aren’t actually free-ranging in my office, they’re sequestered in a little 5×5 area covered with chicken wire) caused them to react like the proto-humans in 2001: A Space Odyssey. What is this strange monolith suddenly in our presence? Let’s approach slowly, then all run away squawking. Let’s do that back-and-forth for about 45 minutes before some brave soul among us finally pecks at it. Then let’s all climb up on it and take a crap.
Comedy: Sometimes I imagine I have an office full of tiny people wearing hyper-realistic chicken suits.
Action/adventure: “Hey, what the…you have something in your beak! I want it! We all want it! We’ll chase you until you give it to us! Aha, you dropped it! But now somebody else has picked it up. Let’s chase them! What is it, anyway? A bug? A piece of lettuce? Oh, it’s a piece of chicken poop! Even better! Get back here! Give it!”
LOST-like high concept premises: (For those of you who haven’t yet watched “LOST,” this contains spoilers.) We’ve all been thrown together in this mysterious setting, slowly learning how our paths have crossed before arriving here. Specifically, we were all eggs once. Occasionally a gigantic hand comes down and tries to grab us. We peck at it and run away. If it does grab us we poop on it.
Sigh…just one more hour and all of this will be no more. The chickens will move on to their permanent residence, and I’ll have to find new and different ways to avoid work. The smell will eventually subside, and when it does I’ll be sad.
Hey, maybe they make chicken coop flavored incense? If not, somebody should invent it. Surely others out there need it as much as I do. And you know what they say, necessity is the mother of bock bock bock.
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