Retirement gives me time to think about matters of great consequence. Recently, while kicked back in my Lazy Boy knock-off and admiring my big toe, I experienced an epiphany – a great moment of truth: I have solved the answer to the age-old question of why the chicken crossed the road.
It’s all about timing. If your timing is off, either good or bad consequences will follow. For instance, if Grandma Ada Isom had refused to marry Grandpa Ed Barksdale in 1896 because she was offended by him spitting tobacco juice in the fireplace, nine children, 29 grandchildren and more than a hundred direct descendants wouldn’t exist – including me. Four generations wiped out because of a “chaw” of Red Man.
Thank the Lord, Grandma was in a good humor when Grandpa proposed and let his bad manners slide. That’s how close my family came to not being here. What if, instead, she had married a Yankee Carpetbagger from New Jersey? I could be walking around with a funny sounding name ending in “ski” and saying “youse guys” instead of “ya’ll.” Distressing! Another thought, and even more disturbing, what if Daddy had been “too tired” or Mama had a “headache” back in early February, 1941? I wouldn’t have been born at 9:05 a.m. on November 3rd. It would have been just another ordinary morning of breakfasting on biscuits and sawmill gravy for them. Instead, I was born on the kitchen table.
Or what if the tiny tadpole-looking critters that dwelled in my parents plumbing system hadn’t come out to play, got acquainted and hooked up? What if, instead of them swimming upstream like salmon to spawn, they had mistakenly swam to the exit? I wouldn’t have been conceived. Timing! I could have been born someone else. Or, I could have been born a girl and wore pigtails and cut out paper dolls instead of climbing trees looking for Blue Jay nests. Carried a step further, what if Mama had been born a man and Daddy a woman? Boy! I’d really be screwed up. I could’ve ended up being Catilyn’s half twin sister. The more I think about timing, the more I worry about what could have been. Timing can change the world.
What if the chicken on the way to Noah’s Ark had paused to scratch for a bug and missed boarding? She would’ve drowned in the Great Flood and the species become extinct. The age old question of why the chicken crossed the road would never have been asked by pointy-head and pony-tail college professors; nor, which came first, the chicken or the egg? There would no eggs for breakfast and no Easter egg hunts for little children. What a sad world it could have been. And all because of timing – pausing to scratch for a bug.
I can’t do anything about the past, but I worry about the present and the future. My every act has consequences. For instance, I usually drive to Athens on Fridays and eat fried catfish at LuVici’s. Would it make any difference what time I depart home, how fast I drive and what route I take? Suppose I depart at 10:45 a.m. I usually drive east on Highway 72, but on a whim, (or perhaps it’s preordained) I turn left on New Cut Road. A chicken darts across the road, I swerve to miss it and collide head on with an oncoming car. The driver, a single father of four children, is killed. He was in a jealous rage and on his way to shoot his girlfriend, a no good drug dealer and robber, who had jilted him for another man. She was planning to rob a drug store that afternoon. What will happen to the poor orphaned children? Will the woman rob the drug store? Not if he had killed her! What if I had departed home a minute later? Am I responsible for the terrible consequences?
More importantly, why did that darn chicken cross the road? Did she see a June Bug on the other side and run to catch it? Did she overhear a rooster in the chicken house crowing about climate change and rising sea levels, then panic and run looking for Noah’s Ark? I can’t say. However, a witness stated he saw a Rhode Island Red Rooster chasing the hen across the road. A father was killed, four orphaned children and a no-account criminal on the loose, all because of a darn rooster. Now, we know why the chicken crossed the road. Problem solved.
Over the years I have chased a few chicks myself. And more than a few times my timing was off – way off.
By: Jerry Barksdale