Gift Chicken Confessions

I think the Bloggess is great. I wish her only the best.

Even if I have spent the last few years fending off the occasional plagiarism or copy-cat allegation from her fans for things I wrote years before she started blogging.

I want to be very clear: I think she’s hilarious and I don’t hold the fervor of a few fans against her. Even though they believe she’s the first to blog about squirrels, oppossums, or anxiety-provoking encounters with strangers. You know, the shit I’ve been blogging about since 1997. (see also: this comment on the previous post).

Even though I was accused of claiming to have the same type of arthritis the Bloggess has “just to be cool.” Swear to god – it happened at my local yarn shop at a stitch and bitch right after her book was published. At least it reminded me to buy her book, which is hilarious and reveals we do have the same form of arthritis. you should also buy it (the book, not the arthritis, don’t buy that – it sucks).

Even though it’s recently come to my attention that a few of her fans – people I do not even know – had an argument in a bar over whether I plagiarized her by naming a post “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened,” I still think she’s great.

(The post in question is from 2001 – At that point I hadn’t even built my time machine yet so that I could travel to the future and see what her book would be named!)

None of this is Jenny Lawson’s fault, unless she secretly controls all of the Crazy in the universe.

Then it is totally and completely her fault and she owes me a fucking apology.

What is her fault, at least indirectly, is the confession I need to make about what a terrible person I am.

Heather O’Keeffe Gardner sent me a card a few months ago. It was one of the Bloggess’s “knock knock motherfucker” cards with Beyonce the Metal Chicken on it.

I pinned it to my “inspiration board,” which is apparently the bullshit name we’re supposed to call bulletin boards now.

Inspiration boards. That’s a post for another day. Not now, we’ve got a confession to get to!

In 1998, we bought a house. We got a lot of lovely housewarming gifts. Since we’d never owned a house before and had no well-known “house style,” the gifts ran the gamut of late 1990s decorating trends and household items that would make the Addams Family jealous.

photo: meanlouise via flickr

Amazing Grim Reaper Baby Clock and even more amazing Monkey Lamp notwithstanding, a style I’ll call “French Country Kitsch Chic” was well-represented.

We’re not really country kitsch people, but these gifts were all so well-intentioned I found a place for every one of them. Serving platters, dishtowels, and other assorted housewares are useful, no matter what the style. It’s the large decorative items that posed a problem.

One of the country kitsch items was a 2 foot tall metal chicken.

15 years ago, metal chickens weren’t ubiquitous, at least not in our neighborhood.

I put the metal chicken in the front yard, where it held court over the English Ivy that was consuming everything in it’s path. In retrospect, I don’t know why I didn’t just put it in the backyard, which no sane human being would venture into because it was a wasteland of invasive plants and fat aggressive squirrels.

In those days, I left for work early in the morning and returned home well after dark. I have no idea when the chicken disappeared.

I think for a while I pretended the ivy had eaten it.

When I realized it was actually gone, I felt terrible.

I felt terrible because of the relief I felt that the damn thing was no longer in my yard.

For real, I mostly felt terrible because I didn’t want to tell my sweet, wonderful co-workers that their gift had been stolen. The gift they drove all the way to Frederick, Maryland to buy and have custom painted for our new home. Not because I was afraid they’d go get me another one, but because I genuinely felt bad that their thoughtful gift was gone.

Yes, okay, I was also a little afraid they’d be tempted to get me another one, so I swore to them the police were looking for my gift chicken and I was sure we’d be reunited in no time.

I realize I’m a bit of a species-ist, because I was relieved that whoever stole the chicken left the crow. I like the crow.

photo: meanlouise via flickr

One day, I was out for a walk when I spotted the chicken. Our gift chicken. In someone else’s yard.

Unbeknownst to me, the police had caught neighborhood teenagers playing a game wherein they would transplant yard decor from one yard to another.

Years later, I learned that the gift chicken recipients had no idea where the chicken came from. I never told them.

If I was going to re-claim my gift chicken, I should have done it a long time ago. That’s what I told myself.

I didn’t sell it or regift it or give it to Goodwill. I was not the metal gift chicken liberationist. I was an innocent bystander. These were all my rationalizations for why I shouldn’t feel guilty about the fact that I was no longer in possession of the gift chicken.

I never told my co-workers that I’d found my gift chicken. For that, I felt guilty.

Who was I to take back a metal gift chicken from people who truly loved it? That would be the real sin, wouldn’t it>?

Yes. These are the things I’ve been telling myself for years.

But here’s the truth: The real reason I never spoke up and reclaimed the gift chicken my co-workers so kindly and generously gave me is because I hate French Country Kitsch and I was deeply relieved that the thing was no longer hanging around, attracting ever more French Country Kitsch into our lives.

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  • I never knew my Beyonce Junior was French Country Kitsch. I thought it was flea market scrap metal kitsch.

    • meanlouise

      I think they have evolved into a form of flea market scrap kitsch, or perhaps merged with that genre, or maybe run parallel to it at most times and only intersect at specific times when the trends align. Or maybe that last sentence was evidence I need a drink.

  • Having been your friend for 30+ years and being a fairly rabid Lawsbian (have you seen Ron Weasel-y’s scarf? I knit that…), this all just makes me smile. I still want a Beyonce to put by my front door. Of course, my version of Beyonce will have 8 legs.

    • meanlouise

      I stand behind your desire for a giant chicken with 8 legs. It should also breath fire.

  • What does that make Buckminster Fuller Junior, my scrapmetal horse?

  • Margaret Lewis

    I think the web would be poorer without you both.