Today I bought my first roasted chicken ever. Well, it wasn’t for me—it was for the collies. They love roasted chicken. Catherine usually buys it for them but today it was my turn. I’m not sure why. I’ve been a vegetarian most of my fifty-eight years, so buying my first roasted chicken seemed like a pretty big deal. I arrived at the supermarket and proceeded to do the weekly grocery shopping. It wasn’t crowded and I had no remarkable encounters with fellow shoppers. I was feeling pretty good.
Then it came time to enter the unfamiliar territory of the meat department. Meat departments, for some reason, are always at the back end of supermarkets. I made my way slowly toward the meat counter, prepared for the embarrassment of having to ask the butcher: “Where do you keep the roasted chickens?” Lucky for me, they were right there in front of the counter, in a heated display case, so I didn’t have to announce to the world the loss of my chicken-buying virginity.
There were a couple dozen roasted chickens to choose from. They all looked and smelled pretty much the same, each priced $5.99 and packaged in a clear plastic box the size of a chicken coffin. Wow, I thought to myself, $5.99 seems pretty cheap for a whole chicken—especially one raised on a “100% Vegetarian Diet”! But what do I know about such things. And how exactly does one choose a roasted chicken? It’s not like squeezing fruit or vegetables. At least I hope not.
I was anguishing over my fatal decision when I spotted on the far right of the display case a single roasted chicken that cost a couple bucks more. The label said “naturally raised.” There you go! Nothing is too good for the collies. I grabbed it, placed on top of all the other items in the cart, and made a beeline for the checkout. Halfway there I realized I had forgotten to get eggs. I made a quick swing around to the dairy department and picked up a dozen. They too came in a clear plastic box, but it did not bring to mind images of coffins. There’s simply no accounting for the Imagination.
Anyway, I made it to the checkout and started placing my items on the conveyor belt. The young woman behind the register was bubbly and bright. Perhaps it was her first day on the job. “Did you find everything you were looking for?” she asked me. I told her I did. She scanned the roasted chicken and I said: “That’s the first chicken I’ve ever bought!” And she said: “That’s really COOL!” And without saying anything else she continued scanning the rest of my groceries. Even so, I felt I owed her an explanation.
“You see,” I said in my most best explanatory voice, “I’m a vegetarian. That’s why I’ve never bought a chicken before. I’m buying this chicken for a couple of collies.” Without looking up from her scanning duties—still bubbly and bright—she said: “That’s really COOL!” And continued scanning.
At a loss for attention, I turned to the young man bagging the groceries. No joy there—he was focused on his bagging duties. When the roasted chicken finally arrived in front of him on the conveyor belt, I said, “Could you double bag that for me?” Without looking up, he nodded in the affirmative and continued his bagging duties.
Soon enough the whole transaction was complete. As I turned to go, the young man reached into my cart and lifted from the top of the heap two blue plastic bags—one in each hand—and said: “One of these bags is your chicken and the other is the eggs.”
Perhaps you know where all of this has been heading. The two bags looked exactly alike.