(A reflection of Character)
ALWAYS CHOOSE THE WING.
Southern folk are a peculiar folk, raised a bit different we were, but southern “mountain” folk…well, that’s another subject entirely. I’m afraid I cain’t speak for everyone else, all I can do is relate insight into how I was taught, unfortunately, that’s a time long gone. This new-found writing career of mine has taught me to find stories in the most unusual of circumstances. One of these circumstances presented itself just the other evening whilst I sat staring at (of all things), a platter of fried chicken. You, my dear friends, are about to discover one of life’s most important lessons, you’re about to find out why… “you should always choose the wing.” So, fasten your seat belts folks, here we go.
Back in the day… long before they were slathered in Buffalo sauce; or attained a center stage in trendy eateries. Long before they found themselves delivered by barely covered young ladies, only to be gnawed on by beer-soaked middle-aged men. (I’m referring to the wings, not the ladies). These humble and understated parts of the chicken were known by one and all as “poor people” food. Yep, that’s right… it wasn’t very long ago, wings were most often bought by the gallon bucket at your local Piggly Wiggly. Wings, livers, and gizzards gave the most bang for the buck, and let me tell you something…I ate more than my fair share of those things. Well… not the gizzards, I don’t like ’em, the longer you chew ’em, the bigger they get. Where’s this going you ask? Well…hold on a minute, we’re just about there.
You see…there’s a lesson to be learned in the humble wing, you could say a quiet, solemn, sense of purpose, free from vanity (unlike those prima-donnas of the poultry world known as chicken breasts), and those thighs… well we’ve all heard stories about those guys. Nope…the wings have a job to do and they know it, and part of that job is teaching us just a little about “humility.”
I was told as a child, “better a peaceful penny than a stricken dollar.” As a boy I could never make sense of that, but now…I get it. Our world is full to the brim, packed tight with folk after the best, the fastest, biggest, most expensive, me, me, me, my time, my life, my this or that. And at what cost?
In my not-so-humble opinion, life needs to be a bit more like the supper table and that platter of fried chicken, (told ya we’d get there). My mother never, and I mean never ever grabbed the first or the last of anything. Grabbing the first piece was frowned on, and viewed as arrogant and self-serving while grabbing the last was seen as selfish and uncaring. In our house, this resulted in a dozen or so hands grasping at the same plate at the same time. For more, refer to the great Jerry Clower and his story “The last piece of chicken.” The nuts and bolts of this little tale boil down to watching out for the one behind you. As crazy as this may sound…the type of piece you choose reflects your personality.
Let’s get preachy: Romans 12: 10 NIV
“Honor one another above yourselves”
Get it now? Watch out for the one behind, or beside you. Don’t go around grabbing the best parts, don’t go around leaving nothing for the next to arrive. Stop thinking so much of yourself and focus on your neighbor. All of this from a chicken wing; never saw that coming did ya? But wait, there’s more.
Remember the sacrifice made by our parents? In a large family with extremely limited resources, it was common to hear Ma’ say, “well, I didn’t really like pie anyhow, or, I’m not in the mood for chicken tonight.” She was always the first to make the sacrifice when there wasn’t enough to go around. We need more of that; we need more folks willin’ to take the high road.
Preachy again… Luke 14:10 NIV
“But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, “Friend, move up to a better place.” Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests.”
My stepdad told me, “never be the first to enter a room.” That stuck with me, when I open the door now, I let the person behind me enter first, out of instinct, not strength of character on my part, or a conscious decision, it just happens, like blinking. “It’s impossible to straighten the bend in the oak, the crook that grew in the sapling.” Ever heard that one? Ever had the door shut in your face at the grocer? Yea…that dude grabs the breast off the platter every time, I guarantee it. Next time you’re at the Piggly Wiggly, Stop, and open the door for a stranger, Please.
All this, and we’re still talking about a chicken wing, what about that. Once again, that little wing teaches us humility, and in an odd sort of way, makes us a better person. So…as you go through life remember, don’t be the first to enter the room, it has a Ta, da, aura about it, and nobody likes it I promise. Make sure and take the lowest seat at the table, both literally and figuratively, trust me, it’s embarrassing if someone asks you to move a few seats back. You may be the center of “your” universe, but you ain’t the center of “the” universe. Yeah… that one’s not original either. Never take the last piece, or slice of anything unless asked, once again, literally and figuratively, doing so makes you come off as selfish and inconsiderate. And finally, always grab the humble wing, and leave that breast for momma. That little wing is sorta like an outward manifestation of inner humility. (hey, that little comment’s an original, with a big word thrown in for extra measure). For once, let someone else have the best piece, you’ll get yours, I promise. Trust me, folks will notice and tell others, just like I have passed it on to you. “We need a lot more folks chewin’ on a wing, and far fewer chokin’ on their words.” (That was another original). So, this Saturday go out and grab yourself a big ol’ bucket of wings, Come Sunday you’ll be sittin’ about that table just drippin’ with humility. But that’s just my opinion, feel free to make it your own.
If you like this little tale I would appreciate it if you would share it, at least once. You gotta know somebody who needs to read it, we all do. Leave a comment if you can, I sure do love reading them. Till next time… Thank You, from The Tin Cup Clan. Better still, press the follow button, I’m trying to build a platform here.
Hi,Thanks for reading my post. From a man who has learned ‘life’s lessons’ for sure. I loved the natural fluidity of your writing, sir. Being humble shows strength, not weakness…I do hope you are beating the evil cancer. Husband and I have both `’come out the other side’ and are more than grateful for that..Cheers for a healthy future..Very Best wishes.
There’s a lot of food for thought in this post. So to speak. I can remember my dad talking about when he was a boy they were invited over some place and he tried to take the last pork chop on the plate. His mother scolded him and then took him out and “gave him a good lickin’.” Thanks for sharing this story, I always like coming here and finding a new post.
Thank You sir. It’s good to hear from ya.
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Just what we all need! 🙂 Thanks…
You are so very welcome Mrs. Stevens. How’s Maine treating you, I do miss it so.