Recent Splats according to Miz Yank

A bird in the hand is worth…zilch

Yesterday I had lunch with Joe, a law firm acquaintance who became a hiking buddy in 2011 after inviting me to climb Old Rag with him and a few friends as a distraction from my divorce.

Joe loves all kinds of outdoors activities, including hunting.  But he’s not one of those people who does it just for sport.  Whatever he shoots ends up on his dinner table.  Over lunch he told me about a trip he’d taken to Idaho since last I’d seen him.  He listed the names of the birds he’d hunted–which fed his family and their guests at Thanksgiving– and paused after he said, “chukar” (pronounced “chucker”).

“You probably haven’t heard of those, have you?”

“Oh, I know what chukars are,” I said, waving him on. He looked surprised, which is understandable since I learned everything I know about birds from a Fisher-Price Speak and Say.

“You do? Really? I’ve hardly met anyone who does. How do you know about ‘em?”

I explained that my ex-husband had enjoyed hunting them, too. I learned this a few months before we got married. As Mark reached deep in the freezer one Saturday in search of something to defrost for dinner that night, he pulled out a couple masses of aluminum foil and said, “We’d better hurry up and eat these.”  The foil blobs had a round-ish shape that revealed nothing about their contents.

“What are they?” I said.

“Chukars.”  As you can imagine, this response did little to advance my comprehension.  Based on the name I pictured breaded tofu tenders until Mark explained that a chukar is a species of bird that hails from the pheasant family.  It’s small and looks like a partridge that accessorizes with animal prints.

Thanks, Wikipedia! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chukar_Partridge)

Apparently he and some buddies had shot a few of them on a trip months before I arrived on the scene so these chukars were ripe.  I watched as Mark unwrapped the foil.  What he extracted from it was unremarkable.

“Looks like chicken,” I said.

He nodded and said, “Tastes like chicken, too.”

He was right.  It does, especially if you like your chicken sprinkled with buckshot.

After I told Joe the backstory on my introduction to chukars, he asked, “Where did Mark go to hunt them?”

“Somewhere near Lexington.”  One of Mark’s friends had a house in the country relatively close to there.  It served as a base when he and his friends got together to hunt.

“Lexington, Virginia?”  Joe said.  I nodded.  “Impossible.  Chukars aren’t native to the east coast.  They like rocky, arid terrain and inhabit the western part of the U.S.  In fact, the chukar is the official bird of Pakistan.”  I felt like I was like having lunch with Alex Trebek.  I laughed but Joe’s face showed no trace of humor.

“Listen, Karen, I’ve really tried not to pass judgment on this guy because I haven’t met him.”

This was something I’d long admired about Joe.  He rarely rushed to a conclusion about people.  He understood that stories are multifaceted creatures and that facts can be tough to smoke out, especially when emotional issues are involved.  Whenever I talked about the divorce, he would listen with empathy, like all of my friends.  But unlike most of them, Joe refrained from maligning Mark.  While blind loyalty has its place, so does fairness, and I appreciated his ability to bring that to a discussion.

Joe put down the fork that held his next bite of carnitas and rice.  His face, normally impassive, looked indignant and serious.

“The fact that Mark hunted had been a redeeming quality in my book, but now that I know he shoots preserve birds? That’s not even real hunting. It’s cheating!” he scoffed.

I wondered how long Joe had been waiting for me to hand him a piece of non-emotional information that would push him off the fence of neutrality and onto my side. Without even meaning to, I’d done it.  All it took was giving him the bird.

 

Comments

  1. Great Speak and Say reference! While it’s impressive that Joe retained his neutrality for so long, his tipping point made me lol! My hubby has been talking about a “real” chukar hunt for a long time. I have a feeling he would come to the same conclusion about Mark.

    • So glad you enjoyed it! It just goes to show you that the littlest things, like a stripey chicken, can push somebody over the edge.

  2. My favorite line – “…a chukar is a species of bird that hails from the pheasant family. It’s small and looks like a partridge that accessorizes with animal prints.” I laughed out loud, especially when I saw the picture! You are hilarious.

    –b.

    • Why thank you! Before yesterday’s lunch, had I seen one of these in the wild I’d have assumed it was the result of a cross-species mating accident.

  3. Where have you been all my life? HIlarious. The law. the birds. BUckshot. You are a great addition to my life.

    • Christie, I can’t answer that but I ought to be able to account for the last few days when I totally fell off the grid! But since I can’t I’ll just say I’m thrilled you’re here. I didn’t have much motivation to write humor after last Friday but coming back here and seeing how much people enjoy a little laugh gives me the kick in the rear I needed.

  4. Miz Yank, how interesting that Mark went hunting at a preserve. At Lexington, Virginia no less. Maybe his hunting of a chuckar there was not a “shot heard round the world” but it certainly was a shot heard round the dinner table.

  5. I second the motion on the “accessorizing with animal prints” line! Sounds like chukars and I would get along quite nicely.