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Carol Perkins: I'd like to wring her neck!

An off-hand expression brings to mind its origin, and not altogether pleasant one, author remembers. She now chooses to purchase a chicken with whom she's never had a connection and whose neck she shall not have to wring.
The next earlier Carol Perkins article: Carol Perkins: Designers don't understand ample women

By Carol Perkins
"I'd like to wring her neck!" Perhaps you've never said that about a co-worker or your child or even your sister or someone who annoys you, but I sure have. Wringing someone's neck is an off-hand way of saying, "I've had IT with her (or him)." Although not sure of this, I came to the conclusion while thinking about this article that the expression must have come from the days of killing chickens.



Wringing the neck of a chicken in the back yard with a boiling pot of water nearby was the only way a country girl or boy was going to get a piece of fried chicken for Sunday dinner. Consequently, the barbaric method of killing chickens was normal, and the wringing of the neck, although not a pretty sight, was a means to an end.

Today, children would find the process "gross." My grandchildren would cry and beg me to stop. They wouldn't sink their teeth into a chicken leg they had watched being slaughtered. Even farm boys and girls of this decade have likely bonded with the chicks, named them, and will refuse to eat their pets. Chicken, for most of us, grow in industrial chicken houses by the thousands and have no personalities. Home grown chickens are hard to eat.

Back in my early youth and before, women had no choice if they wanted to serve fried chicken to their families but to select one from the dozens that dwelled just around the corner of the house in their own pen. However, even though I knew the purpose for raising chickens was to eat them, I had a hard time making the transition of seeing them strut around the pen to being battered and fried and resting on a large platter in the middle of the table.

Although I didn't live on a farm, my parents decided to raise a few chickens. We had no chicken coop, but my dad, a man of great ingenuity, bought an old WWII Red Cross van and turned it into a home for our chickens. I now wished I had asked where he bought that vehicle, but as a child I accepted it as just a normal thing to do.

We didn't have many chickens, but enough for a few eggs. Gathering eggs was like finding a hidden treasure, and I liked going down to the van and feeling around the nest for them.

Aside from the eggs, the chickens were a nuisance. The smell around the coup was enough to ruin any thought of eating the eggs. The hens roamed around the yard, as all chickens did back then, and we kids had to watch where we stepped! We had never heard of histoplasmosis.

As for chicken killing, I remember my mother killing chickens in our backyard. Even then, I thought this was NOT a job for a woman, but it was what women did. Catching the chicken was amusing because a chicken, headed for a slaughter, runs for its life, so there is a whole lot of clucking going on.

Nearby, a tub of water was boiling. Once the chicken was captured, her last moments were brutal. Death occurred by the wringing of the neck, which meant grabbing the chicken by the neck and slinging it until the neck broke, or by the slitting of the throat. Then the neckless remains were dipped into boiling water to loosen the feathers, which would then be plucked. The smell of boiling feathers ranked as high as the smell of burning hair.

From the end of the plucking, the drama moved into the house where the chicken was cut up for frying. The only time I cut up a chicken my family couldn't recognize the parts!

Even though most of us buy our chicken from grocery stores, there are some people who choose to raise their own. These chicken are probably called organic chickens and are fed organic food making them a healthy choice for consumers. I, however, will continue to purchase a chicken with whom I have never had a connection and one whose neck I did not have to wring! - Carol Perkins


This story was posted on 2013-02-25 02:55:02
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