It happened two or three weeks ago, and it’s still bothering me so I might as well write about it. Harvest Ranch Market, in Encinitas where I work, makes a pretty good rotisserie chicken. I don’t have much time to cook during the week, so many Sundays I’ll head over there and pick up two whole cooked chickens. On Sunday night, I separate the breasts from the legs and thighs, and tear up the dark meat and skin for the dogs—that is, what I don’t eat while I’m doing it because secretly I like the dark meat better, even though it’s not as good for you. I put the dark meat into a Tupperware container and the chicken breasts, plump and juicy on a plate, cover them with saran wrap and use them in salads and sandwiches during the week. That is my routine.
Sunday nights are also TV nights around here. Dexter’s off the air now, and Game of Thrones’ new season hasn’t started, but Homeland and The Good Wife keep me occupied so that I can delay laundry and bill paying until the wee hours, the better to put off Monday. So two weeks ago on Sunday night, I did my chicken thing, and then settled down to watch my shows. I must have been a little distracted because I have no recollection of putting the saran wrap on the chicken, or opening the refrigerator. By the time I was done with TV for the evening, I folded laundry, cleaned up the kitchen and went to bed.
Monday morning I went to feed the dogs, and the little dog Yoda, who never liked kibble, waited patiently for his ounce of chicken breast. I opened the refrigerator door, and looked for the chicken breasts. I did not see them, which is not at all unusual in my refrigerator, which is even less well organized than my desk. So I shrugged, gave the little dog some dark meat and went off to work. But the fact that I couldn’t find the two pounds of cooked chicken breast in my own refrigerator was bothering me, so I called my husband who works from home. I said, “Please go look in the refrigerator and tell me that the chicken breasts are there that I cut up last night.” He dutifully went to the refrigerator and reported back, “No, I don’t see any chicken breasts.” I said, “I KNOW that I put 4 half chicken breasts on a plate. But I don’t remember what happened to them after that. Could I have been so distracted I threw them away? Please go look in the garbage can in the garage.” I heard a sigh on the other end. Moments later he said, “The chicken breasts are not in the garbage can.” I said, “Did you REALLY look for them?” He said, “Yes, I really looked for them.”
My youngest son had stopped in Sunday evening to pick up his mail. He was there while the chicken was being dismembered. I said to my husband, “Please call E. and see if he was hungry and took the chicken breasts.” He said, “I don’t think he would have taken an entire plate of chicken breasts.” I said, “Call him!” Twenty minutes later he called me back and said, “E. didn’t take the chicken breasts.” I had a long day at work, but when I got home at seven I did not go into the house to change my clothes. I went directly to the garbage can, in my nice brown wool suit and my silk blouse, and I rooted around. I knew that those chicken breasts must have been accidentally thrown away, probably by my husband, who likes to clean up after me. Twenty greasy minutes later, I confirmed that indeed, there were no chicken breasts in the garbage. Or in the refrigerator.
I love my deerhounds, even though at times they’ve been known to steal and hoard. Izzy was famous for taking ALL of the toys and stuffing them behind the seat cushions of the couch. He also stole everyone else’s bones, and buried them in secret places where they still wash to the surface during a rainstorm, white and glistening, two years after his death. My old boy Magic has never done a thing wrong. He is a huge dog, 34 inches at the shoulder, but he is unfailingly polite, waits his turn for meals, never once chewed on the furniture and never peed in the house. He uses the kitchen counter as a chin rest without even a slight stretch. But two pounds of chicken breast, right after dinner? And as I said, he’s never done a thing wrong.
Looking back, I was a little distracted by that Homeland adrenaline rush. Those chicken breasts are around here somewhere. I just hope I don’t run into them tucked behind my leather armchair’s cushion, or under a far corner of the rug. Queen and Quicksilver aren’t telling, and Magic just grins when I ask him.