Dogood # 5: The Ironic Chicken

The Ironic Chicken is a love story between a virginal woman in her early fifties and a robust divorced man in his late forties. When Ralph knocks on Harriette’s door for the first time, “Harriette and the aroma from her kitchen opened the door.” She was baking a chicken.

When one writes an ironic note to a friend, one better hope that the friend knows that the opposite of what is written is probably true. That is the nature of irony. As Senior Pastor of The First Church of God’s Love, I wrote an ironic note to a parishioner which led to a public spectacle. I know that our words motivate people but I thought she would have understood.

The ironic note that I wrote was to Miss Harriette Brewster. She was born fifty-five years ago and lives in the house where she was born in Halo, PA. She is our village’s seamstress. She can turn a bolt of cotton into a beautiful housedress or turn a few yards of white silk into an elegant Baptism gown for a new born baby.

In addition to being a wonderful seamstress, Harriette is an organic gardener and a gourmet cook and baker. She always wins the Annual Bakery Shop. She loves her house, her garden, her recipes, her friends, her church, her sister and her sister’s family. Although a loving person, Harriette had never loved a man. That is until Ralph knocked on her door.

Ralph is a 42 year old divorced man who works for the Statewide Gas and Oil Company (SG&O). He is originally from Texas, has been with the Company for nineteen years and has been working in Pennsylvania for over five years. He goes from house to house asking people to sign a lease so that SG&O can explore their land for gas. If gas is found the Company can then frack the land for natural gas. He moves on.

Ralph is ruggedly handsome and solidly built. His slight Texas accent makes him a bit foreign but his warm smile makes him immediately accessible. His clear blue eyes make him trustworthy. We only want to deal with honest gasmen.

It was a normal day. Harriette was roasting a fresh chicken and had placed red skin potatoes in the same pan. She was planning to broil some Brussel Sprouts with garlic and virgin olive oil; she had picked them from her garden that day. She always lights candles on her dining room table when she eats dinner. Alone.

Ralph knocked on her door. Both Harriette and the aroma from her kitchen opened the door. Harriette is a woman of German stock. Her skin is youthful and her body is shapely particularly in the summer when she is aggressively gardening. She is warm and loves to laugh.

Harriette invited Ralph in and they sat in her living room. He noticed how well kept her home was with a few beautiful antiques, lovely paintings which her mother had done and a sterling silver tea set that was an heirloom. She explained that she inherited her home and the 110 acre farm that surrounded it. She leases the farm to her neighbor who uses it for grazing and hay. Her sister inherited her parents’ other farm. Her grandparents and parents were dairy farmers.

He explained gas leasing. She knew all about it because it was happening all over Pennsylvania; she was up to date on all current events. She then moved the meeting into the kitchen so she could finish cooking her dinner. He graciously accepted her invitation to dine with her. In the candlelight.

They sat. They laughed. They ate. They cleared the table. They did the dishes. They touched. They kissed. They made love.

Several months later, Harriette invited her three closest girlfriends and me to high tea at her home. The light and shadows on her lawn that Monday at 4:00 pm were lovely. She told us that she wanted to accept Ralph’s proposal of marriage but wanted our advice. “He is financially comfortable, has no children, is divorced and is madly in love with me.” She showed us the beautiful diamond ring that he purchased in Scranton with which to propose. When we finished our Earl Grey tea, homemade scones with farm butter, clotted cream and her homemade strawberry jam, we all said “yes.”

Harriette planned a beautiful wedding. I reserved the Church, the organist, and the choir. I then sent her the following handwritten note:

“Dear Harriette,

All of the arrangements have been made for your wedding day. Congratulations!

I love the pattern that you showed me for your wedding dress. Knowing the work you do, it will be magnificent.

Just a thought. You may recall that in the movie “Sex and the City”, Carrie plans a fantastic wedding wearing an elaborate designer gown. In her hair she wears an artificial bird. It is blue with long plumage dramatically framing her face. Perhaps when you wear your beautiful gown you should consider wearing a bird in your hair as homage to “Sex and the City.” People in the know will acknowledge the insider symbolism. But of course you will want to make a new statement. It should be a small farming village statement. One personal to you. Perhaps a chicken … a wing …a breast … a leg.

Yours,

The Reverend Mrs. Silence Dogood”

Before the bride appeared at the back of the Church, my husband Willie, the Organist, was playing Pachelbel and the air was filled with excitement. The Church looked beautiful with flowers and bows and a velvet maroon runner down the aisle so the bride’s dress would not get sullied. The pews were filled with admiring family and friends. There was joy and hope in people’s hearts. There was joy in the hearts of the congregation because our lovely Harriette found love. Many single members felt hope that someday it would be them walking down the aisle.

I stood in the front of the Church facing the congregation. I was surrounded by the handsome and smiling groom, the best men and the bridesmaids.

Then Harriette appeared at the back of the Church. Her strapping 17 year old nephew in his blue suit would walk her down the aisle and give her away. Willie played the Wedding March. Harriette looked amazing in her off white satin gown that she had meticulously sewn.

But what was she wearing in her hair? “No. It can’t be.” But there it was. “Or was it? Am I seeing it correctly? Yes.” In her stylish coif was a baked skinless chicken breast breaded with Panko surrounded by artificial flowers made from chicken feathers.

Ironic.

The Reverend Mrs. Silence DoGood
Senior Pastor
Executive Director
President
Chairman
Choir Master (part-time)
The First Church of God’s Love