The Great Chicken Caper


“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

After getting out of the Army, we began a more normal life in a starter home in west Houston….unbelievably the cost of the house was right around $12 a square foot.  The neighborhood was great, almost all young professionals like us.

Across the street was a larger than life Texan, let’s call him Tom, who was married to a nice and tolerant woman whom he had met in law school.  An Aggie no less.  Quite the extrovert, Tom was always cooking up ideas for entertainment, and whenever his ideas got a bit out of control we knew immediately; Tom always had a dozen long stem red roses delivered to his wife Sandra as penance and a plea for forgiveness.

There’s nothing more important for a native born Houston Aggie than the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.  Underlying all the frivolity and music and rodeo events is a serious purpose; the rodeo raises large amounts to fund college scholarships.  The main way the rodeo association does that is by having auctions.  Young people bring their animals to the affair and if their animals get auctioned off successfully, they get to keep a large portion of the proceeds.  As a footnote, I have observed that a key to any successful auction of any kind is to serve liquor before the event to loosen up inhibitions.

Tom and his Aggie friends decided to attend the animal auctions, unfortunately not accompanied by their wives.  Conferring together while imbibing at the auctions, they decided that between them they had no ability to bid on the champion steer or anything like that, which ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, so they went down the food chain until they found something they could bid on: chickens.

In the case of chickens, the bid is not for one chicken, but a coop of chickens, that is a dozen of them.  As I was told, the bidding was fierce, and the Aggie team won the bid for $2400, a princely per chicken price indeed.  Having imbibed a bit too much, the group after watching the remainder of the auctions decided to disband for the evening.  There was one problem: having successfully won the bid, they had to take delivery of the coop of chickens.  Tom, I think the natural leader of the group, volunteered with a friend to take charge of the chickens.

Somehow Tom and his friend got the chickens back to our neighborhood. I also suspect that the drinking may have continued. I don’t know what they were thinking at the time, but perhaps they were concerned about the cramped space that the 12 chickens were in so decided to ‘give’ each of their neighborhood friends a chicken by putting one in each friend’s back yard.  Somehow they got rid of eight of them and ran out of friends, save one…..Dave, who had declined the invitation to accompany them to the auction earlier since he had a date with his new girlfriend.  The trouble was that Dave lived in a townhouse, so there was no back yard for the chicken, and besides there were four of them left.  In their mental state they thought it would be really funny to knock on the door and give the chickens personally to Dave.  So when Dave opened the door in a state of undress, probably after midnight, with his new girlfriend in a similar state of undress, Tom and his friend were so taken aback that they threw the four chickens into the townhouse and ran off.

Not having been a party to any of this, you can understand my being perplexed the next morning by finding a chicken in my back yard, but the mystery was solved within the hour by a telephone call.  It was Tom’s familiar voice:  “This is Colonel Sanders.  I understand you have a chicken in your back yard and I am coming over to catch it, if it is OK.”  He then related parts of the above story, and over the Sunday morning retrieved, I think, all 12 chickens, although Dave was naturally very mad at Tom.  Apparently his new girlfriend was so grossed out by the chicken episode that she had gotten dressed and gone home, claiming she never wanted to see Dave again.

I never did find out what happened to the chickens, but Tom compounded his erroneous ways by assembling the chickens in the back yard, where the hungry little animals proceeded to chew up all available greenery in the back yard, gardens that Sandra had lovingly and painstakingly cultivated.  This ended up to be a red letter day for the florist….not one but two dozen long stemmed red roses were delivered that day.


There are numerous morals to this story, as you might suspect.  If you are an Aggie, don’t hang out in a gang.  Don’t drink at auctions.  Don’t bid on anything live at an auction.  Don’t give late night gifts to any friends.  Don’t have animals that eat greenery in your back yard.  I’m sure that there are more!


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