We sat at T.G.I. Fridays and waited for Jessica, our usual waitress, to arrive. Howard and I were negotiating the next morning’s activities while the boys were playing tic-tac-toe on their place mats, when a strange man’s voice interrupted us.
“Hello, Kimosabees. I am Blue, your waiter. Can I take your orders?”
We all looked up and saw a small, long-haired man of obvious Native American descent, with a smile that ran up to the wrinkles of his eyes. For a moment, we stared speechless, but then I quickly collected myself.
Jessica knew our order by heart, but I relayed it to him – buffalo wings and onion soups for me and my husband and chicken fingers for the boys.
He nodded. “Interesting selection.”
“It’s not interesting,” Michael, my seven-year old exclaimed. “We get it every week.”
“Oh it’s very interesting,” the man said mysteriously. “You obviously don’t know how one harvests buffalo wings and chicken fingers.”
He had our full attention now.
“Tell us how,” my boys demanded, and unbelievably the man pulled out a peace pipe and pulled up a chair.
“Uh, are you allowed to do that?” Howard asked, but Blue’s eyes were glazed over and he began.
“A long time ago on a day as bright as a newborn sun, my great, great grandfather Blue Cheese was out hunting Buffalo.”
Julius, my four year-old, giggled, “Blue Cheese is a funny name!”
“Yes, young one, it is. It was our family’s responsibility to make cheese for our tribe. My grandfather did not like this. He wanted to be a buffalo hunter and was sad, so they called him Blue Cheese. Blue was an extremely skilled hunter and delighted in his own talent. One day, Blue had bagged many a buffalo and was shaming the tribe’s true hunters with his prowess. A fairy spirit saw his boastful pride and frowned upon Blue. She decided that from then on, every time Blue hunted Buffalo it would sprout wings and fly away. Blue spent the rest of his life frustrated, making cheese and never able to catch buffalo again.”
Blue nodded sagely. “Legend has it, that all those buffalo flew straight to a secret ranch, so deep in the south they never even heard of country music. There, a woman named Magic Mama, like her Mama before her, breeds the buffalo and harvests their wings.
“How?” Tyler, my kid who needs to know everything, asked.
“Actually, wing removal is a relatively simple, technical process involving five steps.
Second, she relaxes the buffalo, so they feel nothing but the clouds passing by.
“How?” Tyler asked again, intrigued.
“She has her ways,” Blue answered and blew a huge puff of smoke in our faces. Oh.
Third, Magic Mama uses atomic clippers to delicately snip off their wings.
Fourth, she lays the wings on an ancient stone for two moons, where they relax and shrink.
Lastly, she secretly sells them to restaurants nationwide. The money goes to help Native Americans build casinos all over the country.
“Wow.” I said in amazement.
“Now do chicken fingers!!” My boys chanted.
With a satisfied smile, Blue took another deep drag and began again.“You already know part of the story, but it has been confused with other legends, so you don’t know the full story. Many moons ago, a nest of baby chicks were hatched with extremely long, fleshy feet. It was a strange deformity that the tribe had never seen, and they were feared as a bad omen. The chiefs and elders met and decided that they could not kill the little chicks for fear of angering whatever spirits had created them. Instead, they sent them far away, leaving them to fend for themselves.”
“Yes, they grew to full chickens, thick footed and harboring a dark anger against the tribe. One day, when the chickens were crossing the road – no need to know why, that’s another story – they were almost run down by the very tribe who had banished them. In a moment of heated passion, the chickens raised their abnormal claws in angry protest. When the Indians came home they told of the chickens crossing the road and raising their strange ‘fingers’ at them, thus giving rise to many common expressions such as, giving the finger and flipping the bird.
These chickens continued their pilgrimage, ultimately finding solace at the same place as the winged buffalo, Magic Mama’s ranch. There, Mama has bred them and uses ancient techniques to remove the aberration.
Third, she watches while the chickens run round wild, like they’ve lost their heads.
Fourth, she waits until the chickens exhaust themselves and fall over in a deep sleep.
Finally, Magic Mama uses her special clippers to delicately remove the excess flesh, selling the sought after “fingers” to places such as this.
Before I could say wow, or ask for another hit of the peace pipe, Jessica appeared with our order.
In the momentary distraction, Blue vanished.
“Where’s Blue?” Michael asked.
“Who?” Jessica looked perplexed.
“The Indian!” Tyler explained.
Jessica clearly had no idea who we were talking about.
“Weird,” Howard said and we all stared down at the chicken fingers and buffalo wings uncertainly.
“Should we… eat?” I asked, but the boys had already begun.
“It’s good knowing no buffalo or chickens were actually harmed making our food,” I said, digging in.
Three greasy faces smiled. Tyler summed it up. “Taste likes chicken.”