"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
I was just getting my entries ready for the county fair, only three weeks away.
I'm pinning most of my ribbon hopes this year on my show chickens. I got tired of my old friend Billy Attwood taking just about all the ribbons in just about all the show-chicken categories. How hard could it be, I thought.
A right smart hard, I discovered.
There's a breed of show chicken that looks like Sideshow Bob, and one that looks like a sumo rassler, and one that looks like a storm cloud coming up — I'm going with a gaggle of beautiful Italian anconas that look like snow falling on devil's-food cake — but however exotic in the end they're all just stupid-ass chickens. You can't train them. They're incapable of taking instruction or even suggestion. They're not divas; they're just idiots.
I know there were chickens at the IQ Zoo in Hot Springs that could beat Albert Einstein at tic-tac-toe, but I assumed that was just a freak of nature, if not some sort of barnyard-devised scam, or at best merely a rare exception to the general rule of utter chicken chuckleheadedness. There's not a one of them anywhere that's one bit smarter than Mark Darr or Loy Mauch. Or that performs any better come showtime.
It's hard to get a chicken to preen — even those that were bred to preen. They just won't do it. They won't strut and fret their hour upon the stage. That's why words like "cocky" and expressions like "cock of the walk" are poor metaphors; because chickens aren't cocky whether they're walking or not. At least they're not cocky in the strutty, preeny sense that Republican politicians are. Even their crowing is not exhibitionistic as it is when humans do it; it isn't a bold shout-out to the morning sun; it's just pointless noise. They exhibit no pride in their bearing, or in anything else.
Also, you can't keep a chicken focused, as you can say a dog at Westminster, or a cat when it's watching a bird or squirrel in the high branches of a distant tree. Show rabbits are so focused it's almost scary, and show sheep and show cattle are nearly always impressively impassively zoned. Not chickens.
Chickens don't have short attention spans; they have no attention spans. You could start a chicken down the runway of a show-chicken pageant, but not two seconds would pass — not one second would — before it noticed a dropping from an earlier contestant and ran over to peck up a sample of it. That's just the nature of chickens. They can't help it. They know the importance of discipline; of showing your stuff in a winning dignified way; of radiating girl-next-door while intimating tart; of nattering about world peace; but when the time comes they fall back on being morons, yard fowl, dorks.
You can teach a six-year-old baby girl made up like a painted harlot to walk that pageant walk with a sense of style and purpose, but you can't get a chicken to do it. Something I learnt the hard way. When I determined to concentrate on show chickens at this year's fair, I built me a glitzy scale-model runway out in the old tractor shed, took my old record player and the Gypsy Rose Lee vinyl discs out there, and spent most of the summer trying to teach nitwit chickens how to perform at a county-fair show-chicken raree. I got them little sequin outfits and everything. Hats. And through all that hot weather I was out there sweating and tearing my hair out, threatening and cajoling, working on tempo and high-stepping and tush-thrusts like Dom DeLuise in "Blazing Saddles," over and over, once again from the top.
If I'd known at the start of the summer what I know now, I'd have gone with emus. But it's too late now, and my best hope is that the fair board recruits a set of judges that have a sense of humor.
No quilts this year.
No goats — never again after what that LaMancha did to the Last Supper gourd.
Note to myself — Be sure to ask the perennial chowchow winner if she'll sell me a quart. Pay whatever she asks, up to a king's ransom.
For the art competition, I've been working on a poster portrait of Rick Perry, made of purplehull peas glued artfully to a piece of weathered planking that used to be the bottom of a hog trough. I've about decided to abandon the project, though, not because it lacked artistic integrity, but because it became just too depressing. The more peas I glued on, the more the Texas governor came to look like Goober Pyle. I thought this was unfair — to Goober. Maybe even insulting to him. And uncalled for. He was a goober, all right, but not a peckerwood.
I've heard there's to be a Liar's Contest this year, guaranteed to have fairgoers slapping their thighs, but I reckon I'll have to skip it. Competition too stiff from all these Pekoe Party prevaricators who've swarmed out like the cicadas and have the advantage of believing their guff. Also from the large crop of homegrown trailer yahoos home-schooled in advanced lying-liardom by Fox News.
Bob Lancaster, one of the Arkansas Times longest and most valued contributors, retired from writing his column last week. We’ll miss his his contributions mightily. Look out, in the weeks to come, for a look back at some of his greatest hits. In the meantime, here's a good place to start.
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