Spring Chicken

Office supply stores are my guilty pleasure. With or without an intended purchase I will make any excuse to go into these purveyors of neatness. This is how my desk at home should look: systematized, orderly, and pristine with a solid representation of 90-degree angles. I revere the smooth stacks of multi-hued printer paper. I look longingly at the collection of storage solutions that could, in a perfect world, entwine my desk disarray into a tidy bouquet.

If I asserted myself by unleashing an accordion file, I could index my fringed bills, shopping lists and receipts. I wander the aisles in a daydream of establishing tranquil symmetry throughout my workspace. It’s a wonder I’m not kicked out for caressing the immaculate whiteboards.

Last week, just before entering Staples (emporium of orderly delights), I am thrown off balance by a barnyard fowl. Teetering on the edge of disbelief and intrigue I halt to stare at a rooster strutting between me and the gateway to Avery printing solutions.

I tentatively slide one foot forward to see if cock-of-the-walk would cede passage. Nope. My 2” x 3 ½” semi-gloss cards beckon. Perhaps a circuitous approach around this black-feathered obstruction will do the trick. Denied. Little Mr. Traffic Jam proceeds to turn his sharp beak to mirror my bypass route. We’re locked in a mutually calculating bantam duet.

A lady in the parking lot hears me blurt in protest, “Are you kidding?! You’re ten inches tall and I need customizable cardstock. You don’t stand a chance!” I swear Chicken Little responds in a Lord of the Rings Gandalf voice with, “You Shall Not Pass!”

Blinded by my printing goal I disregard the feathery warning and thrust myself into the store, but looking over my shoulder self-consciously to be on guard for any follow-up wizardry. I am abashed to see a woman behind me stoop down to sweet talk this attack-poultry. He, in return, gently clucks at her and coquettishly tilts his head. Gargoyle to Casanova in a split second, huh? I will certainly not join your henhouse!

I purchase my much-anticipated printing product and venture over to “Your Espresso” for a hot beverage to reinstate balance and order to my shaken existence. I ask the barista Teresa about the doghouse adjacent to the drive-thru/walk-up espresso stand. She explains that it belongs to McNugget the famous rooster, but that he actually spends the night in the branches of the tree above. I blurt out, “You’re under that glossy rascal’s spell too?”

Teresa smiles and nods kindly like you do when speaking to a delirious madwoman. “McNugget shies away from wheelchairs and he detests pigeons, but he loves peanut butter cookies.” (Did Mr. Cochine confuse me for a rat-with-wings earlier?)

Teresa endearingly continues, “Sometimes he greets my customers up here on the counter and can recognize regular patrons by their cars. He’ll cluck when he sees a familiar vehicle.”

I try to recover some semblance of humanity by inquiring how the coffee stand became the lucky custodians of McNugget.

“He’s been here seven years after he escaped from The Grange. They tried to retrieve him but he just kept coming back” says Teresa.

Pretending that I am unfazed by our earlier tête-à-tête I ask, “Is he lonely?”

The barista replies with sad fondness, “He had a girlfriend (hen) for a while but she left him because he was indifferent and unaffectionate to her. She’d roost in the doghouse while he roosted alone in the tree.” (Sounds chicken to me.)

“What happened to her…I mean the hen?” I ask, starting to engage in the story.

“Well, there are a few predators out here at night…and McNugget stays up in the tree year-round for protection…” she trails off.

Visions of a raccoon feasting on chicken drumsticks creep into my imagination and I immediately slam the door on that gruesome thought. “Wow, so seven years…” I continue, “What is that in dog years? I mean rooster time?”

“Some roosters can live as long as 20 years” offers Teresa.

“Hey, that means McNugget’s still a spring chicken!” I deftly calculate.

She concludes, “People adore him and keep offering him food and different shelter structures. He’s got great survival instincts and prefers his tree. We give him food from The Grange Supply and provide water. He should be around for a long time.”

As we finish talking McNugget majestically struts on over to us. I can’t say I’m ready yet to count myself amongst the adoring followers of this fascinating Front Street attraction, but I am willing to have my office supply pilgrimages disrupted (momentarily) by the crimson combed café courtesan.

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