I remember for a four or five week span, during my second grade year, we had a chicken in our back yard in Orange County, CA. I was very perplexed as to why a chicken all of sudden would appear in our back yard, as we never had any pets before.
This was largely because my father, who was a true-blooded American who would drive only Cadillacs because every other car was the spawn of Communists, had finally sobered off enough to take another overseas offshore gig in the Middle East, working for the type of companies that provide what can largely be considered large-scale logistical services for foreign governments, including (and most lucratively) our own. There are a lot of these companies, but you may be only familiar with the more sinister and pervasive examples such as Halliburton, DynCorp and KBR. Talk about a coarse ground of socialism seeped through a brittle coffee filter of corporatism.
In any regard, at the time this lack of the patriarchal American Daddy figurehead in our household meant my Mom turned our house into an entrepot, a confluence of members from the Vietnamese refugee community that were already well into the process of turning Westminster, CA into a sanitized, strip mall version of Saigon full of nail shops, video stores, real estate offices and jewelers. American dream and all that.
Anyhow, I sort of grew attached to this chicken over the course of the next few days. It tried to attack me every time I went outside, and I found that endearing. It got outside and onto the sidewalk in front of our house on time, forcing one of my mom’s friends to chase it down, and we were scolded for being so careless.
I can’t remember if I or my brothers attempted to give the animal a name or not. If we did, I’m sure we would have named it Ron Cey, at the time a popular third-basemen for the local Los Angeles Dodgers baseball franchise who was given the nickname “The Penguin,” which, incidentally, is also a type of bird.
One day a bunch of my mom’s Vietnamese friends showed up with a bunch of foodstuffs, as if they were planning some sort of function. One enterprising man—he was probably a badass from the Old Country, maybe he was VC but more likely he actually fought for the South or even most likely he was just some guy who grew up in the countryside and this was socially obligatory for him — he went out into our makeshift chicken coop and chased down the fowl, and proceeded to cut its head right off. As a mortified 7-year old, entirely lacking the sort of euphemistic coping methods that allow me to exist as a semi-functioning adult, this really blew the lid off my worldview.
After witnessing the bird being bled and drained over a bucket for some time, I eventually lost interest and went inside to watch Hanna-Barbera cartoons. The bird was undoubtedly disemboweled and defeathered, as the next time I saw it, the chicken was being cooked in a big pot on the stove, where it would simmer for hours and hours.
I remember that it was delicious.