My Grandfather’s Chicken Farm (A story passed down for the next generation)

31 Jan

Last night, after I had already informed you all about the Irish Green Pants, my father had a sudden urge to talk to me.

Now, generally, I do not enjoy the conversations that pass between my father and I. Too often they tend to lead to unpleasant conversation; usually directed at my lack of a steady job, my inability to drive or some other shortcoming that he decides to pick at that day. Mind you,I don’t hate my father. But sometimes, I can’t stand him. (Isn’t that just human though?)Anyway, keeping this in mind, I wasn’t too thrilled to suddenly have him full of energy and ready to chat. Luckily, last night would be different.

My mother crunched absently on popcorn at the kitchen table, mainly keeping my father company as he ate his dinner. Dad works late on most nights, and isn’t usually around to have dinner with the rest of the family. I could hear them talking about their day from my room down the hall–and being forever unable to control my curiosity–I wandered out to join them.

I suppose they really didn’t expect me, because I interrupted a conversation they appeared to having about weight loss and gain, and what effects each scenario tends to have on my mother’s breasts. My father’s head swiveled around as I entered, and between bites of chicken he asked,

“Does losing weight effect your boobs like it does your mother’s? You know, losing them?”

These sorts of comments tend to be more normal coming out of my father’s mouth as he and I get older. But they don’t make me cringe any less.

“No, not really.” I answered mildly.

This then branched out into a long conversation about my mother’s breasts when she was pregnant, versus when she wasn’t. My mother adding to me that she had never really had a behind or boobs to begin with, and that she was jealous of mine.

I could see, as I bet you can as well, where this conversation was going to keep going. I considered leaving the room again, but before I could, my father pipped up jokingly about getting a well endowed female roommate–to which my mother quipped that she hadn’t approved. They shared a laugh at my look of horror.

“Dirty old man.” I finally managed to stammer at my father. At this point, he had finished his meal and was cleaning his hands in the sink. He chuckled in his raspy way, his glasses glinting in the low kitchen light. Something devious was about to happen.

“Speaking of dirty old man,” my father started, “I have a story to tell you.”

“Oh no,” I groaned, “Should I get the cheese grater to scrap my brain clean afterwards?”

“Nahh,” he replied with a sniffle, rifling his dish into the dishwasher. My mother continued to crunch her popcorn, one leg tucked under her as she sat at the table. “This is a funny story.” He confirmed, then paused. “Well, if you can look at it as just a story, and not as someone you know and love.”

Had my father just put a disclaimer on his story? He didn’t wait for me to agree, but plowed on.

“It’s a story about your grandfather. Something you’re going to want to tell to your kids, if you have them, or nieces and nephews. Something that will need to be passed down.” He said, trying to impress the importance of it on me before he told it.

I nodded, giving in. His heavy shoes clomped across the wood floors, the chair groaned softly as he sat back at the table again. I leaned against the counter tops–just in case I might need to make a quick escape.

“When you were little,” my father said,

“Are you sure it was her?” My mother interjected curiously. “Could it have been her cousins?”

“No, it was her.” My father confirmed. “When you were little, your grandfather took you out for a drive. He liked taking you kids places with him. And when you got back, you got out of the truck and came over.” My dad paused, smiling at the memory. “I said, ‘Did you have fun with Grampa?’ And you shook your head and told me yes, but looked a little puzzled.”

My father mimed talking to a smaller me, and I tried to imagine him younger, tried to imagine what he had looked like when he spoke to me then, “What’s wrong? I asked you. And you said, ‘Grampa is going to open a chicken farm.” My father crinkled his face in confusion to replay the event for my mother and I. My mother said rapt, listening and remembering. “So I looked to my father, and my father just,” Dad shrugged his shoulders, playing at being my grandfather here, “So I asked you to explain.”

A younger me looked at my father and told this story: my grandfather was driving along the road, looking all around. When I asked him what he was looking at he told me he was looking for chickens.

My father went on to tell me that later, my grandfather took him aside and told him what the real story was. The real story–my grandfather has wandering eyes. He has a ‘type’ as my father put it–particularly, young women. And on this drive he was apparently staring at women’s behinds as we drove along. Being small and curious, I spotted him looking all around, but wasn’t sure what he was looking at. When I asked him what he was doing,my grandfather; embarrassed to be caught gawking by his granddaughter and knowing he couldn’t admit to his dirty deed, told me he was looking for chickens. In my mind, this gives “spring chickens” a whole new meaning. I apparently spent the rest of the ride looking for these imaginary fowl. Off and on my Grandfather would point and shout–“Look! Did you see that chicken?” And in my innocence I would reply, “No! All I saw were those people!”

 

 

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