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I had one of my baby brothers over for dinner a few months ago. His gorgeous, sweetheart of a girlfriend and one of his oldest friends also came. It's always nice to just sit around with family, talking and catching up. We were talking about the blog, social media, and then somehow the conversation turned in the direction of my crippling fear of both Kevin Bacon and Keifer ("Creeper") Sutherland, and my former fear of chickens. Yes, chickens. Well, to be honest, if this were a year and a half ago and you came at me with anything bigger than a finch, I'd probably hyperventilate and start running.
Whether I was running from a large duck, covering my head as I ran to the car while blackbirds flew overhead, I knew that my fear definitely started with a chicken at a petting zoo about 5 years ago. Leah asked to go in and visit the animals. I obliged, thinking nothing of it. The minute I entered that tiny pen, I felt eyes looking through me. As I looked up, a chicken no bigger than a honeydew made eye contact with me. I swear, she gave me the death stare. She may not have been able to say it out loud, but if I didn't know better, I'd have sworn I heard that chicken mutter, "Die, bitch," under it's breath at me. Instantly, I was terrified. I felt helpless to defend myself. What can you do when the poultry maffia puts a hit out on you? Nothing!
I guess I could sense her stress, or her fear, or her anger. She did, after all, mutter direct death threat. Hell, I'd be angry if I was shoved into a tiny pen so a bunch of grubby little hands could feel all over me. Well, I'd probably be swinging if that was the case, but given the fact that chickens can't make fists...there wasn't any punching. I was convinced, however, that they all wanted to peck my eyes out. Back then I ate meat and eggs and dairy. Back then I didn't make the connection and truly think about why I was picking up on such stress from that poor chicken. I was just convinced that all birds wanted to peck my eyes out for no good reason. And I thought that made perfect sense. Now I see that it made just about as much sense as me having a panic attack whenever I saw commercials for 24 before it went off the air. But at least Creeper truly is creepy. Chickens are just innocent creatures in cages that we force them into. And generally, they don't peck out anyone's eyes.
"Hey, mommy, do you think that the ducks know that we're vegan?" Leah asks, thoughtfully, as we pass the pond by our house.
"I don't know, baby, but I can honestly say that I feel like they know we won't hurt them." I answer. I mean every word, too. I feel that just as those petting zoo chickens sensed my fear as I sensed their fear and anger, the animals we encounter now can sense our peace, and that's why they can be so at ease around us.
"I think they do know. I think they know that we aren't going to eat them, and that's why they let us get so close, and why they aren't afraid of us anymore." Leah is convinced of the truth in this statement, which she makes at least once a week when we have these conversations. Ever since going vegan, when we encounter an animal, whether it's the family of ducks at the pond in our neighborhood, or a turtle crossing the road in the rain (who we've helped out of the road 3 times now!), or the crows in the parking lot at Whole Foods. The squirrels at the park were clucking at me last weekend and as I "tsk tsk-ed" back at them, they started to follow us along the running trail. Whatever I said to them really got them motivated to keep up with us. They really liked whatever I said. Hopefully I wasn't hitting on them, LOL!!
Even as meat eaters, we never would've dreamed of killing a chicken or a duck at the pond for dinner. Now that we don't eat animal products of any kind, the hypocrisy of that is so apparent. We were perfectly okay with consuming animal flesh, but wanted no part in knowing how it got to our plate. Maybe in some way, I feared our winged neighbors because my guilt made me wonder if they knew that I had no qualms about eating a bird just like them - as long as someone killed it, beheaded it, de-feathered it, and neatly wrapped it in plastic packaging for me. Maybe they knew that I thought that just because I was bigger and smarter than they were, I could eat them if I damn well pleased. They must have known that I thought that just because they couldn't fight back or speak up, I could do to them what I saw fit. So whether I was willing to do the "dirty" work and kill the animal or not, I thought that it was my right as the bigger, stronger, smarter being to use those beings I viewed as lesser in any way I liked. As a woman, typing those words and re-reading them now makes me feel ashamed because I think about a larger, stronger man taking advantage of a smaller, and less sober me when I was 19 years old. He thought that he could do what HE damn well pleased - simply because he thought he was smarter, and because he was bigger and I was in no way able to speak up to say no, nor could I fight back.
So even though at face value my fear of chickens was hilarious, having been told "you should blog about that" made me quite introspective. I pick myself apart on a daily basis and usually I come to no useful conclusions. Tonight, I hope I made some conclusions that helped you make some connections or at the very least, got you thinking. I also hope you were able to laugh with me at myself. Maybe some day, I will make some profound connection about Creeper. As far as Kevin Bacon goes, I think it's just that he reminds me of Creeper. But until then, I will stay away from re-reuns of 24, Footloose, and have my husband fast forward through certain scenes of Stand By Me.