In the Zone: “Chicken in a Can”

EM_TZ_Two“Let me tell you something… You know Santa Claus? Yeah. well… he’s nothing but a gawd-damn pervert!” Most of the mouthful of coffee I’d just drank ended up coming back through my mouth and nose ending up on the formerly clean table as I now struggled to breathe. It’s a good thing my eggs weren’t ready yet.

The waitress that seated me rushed over with a dishcloth and asked if I was alright as she wiped the table down, seemingly wanting to reach over and start slapping me on the back or testing her Heimlich skills. As she placed her other hand above my back, I managed to nod and signaled up at her with an “OK” sign while letting out a strangled “Oh, it just went down the wrong way…” she breathed a half sigh of half relief. “Oh, I thought the coffee was too hot or burnt or something. Hold on, honey – I’ll get you a fresh cup!”  She scooted off to do so and as I patted my shirt down with some napkins, I glanced to the left and behind me to see who almost killed me before breakfast…

As he came into view, I probably smiled inside (well, as best as someone who almost choked to death on a cup of otherwise good coffee could smile inside) because the guy looked like someone who’d say what he said and get clean away with it. He was an older white man with his greying hair in buzz cut wearing a light blue denim shirt (with short sleeves in the chilly November weather) and dark jeans, his thick arms crossed across his barrel chest and beer belly as he held court at a table with two other guys with their backs to me. I noted his fading tattoo half-hidden under a sleeve was part of an American flag and what looked like a bird of some sort (an eagle I bet) and USMC underneath. Aha. Well, no one disagrees with an ex-Marine about much unless they want to be one of those people getting sorted out by their deity of choice in no short order.

The waitress came back with a fresh cup of coffee and my western omelet with white toast, making me jump a little because I was still half glancing over at the other table. “Oh, sorry!” she said, cheerfully placing my order down then taking the old cup away and replacing it with the new one. “You be careful this time and make sure it goes down the right place, hon” she chirped. I thanked her and smiled, reaching for the cold metal pitcher of milk she also replaced. I think I wondered then why all waitresses call everyone “Honey” or “Hon” or “Sweetie” or “Sugar”, but the other half of my brain noted that even the most artificial affection is rewarded positively and passively (meaning you probably tip a lot better when you feel welcome somewhere). While I was ruminating on this, The anti-Santa guy was in the middle of continuing his story and yes, I had to give a listen to find out how he came to his conclusion.

Unfortunately, while I was busy un-choking and cleaning myself up and wondering about sweet nothings on a per-customer basis, he’d moved onto other subjects worth his withering opinion. However, somewhere between his griping about politics and too much crime on the streets, he waves the waitress over and asks her to ask the cook if he’s got any “Chicken in a can”, specifically Chicken legs that are already cooked. In a can. The waitress laughed and noted that he always asks that question every time he comes in and the cook doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. I actually DID, so I was chuckling without even having to turn around to see their exchange.

Sure enough, he starts talking about The Twilight Zone, specifically, the episode called “Two”. Go watch it above – the chicken shows up officially around the 4:25 mark, but the entire episode is worth a look. Anyway, he’s going on about Charles Bronson “before he got REALLY ugly” and I’m starting to stifle a giggle, but then he says “Let me tell you, the first time I saw Elizabeth Montgomery in that episode, afterwards I had to go use the bathroom for a bit – you know what I mean?”  That’s when I had to leap up and make a quick trip to the bathroom of my own so I could bury my face in a few handfuls of paper towels in order to laugh for a few minutes. Yeah, I do know what you mean, mister…

As I’m recovering, I hear a light tap, then a harder knock on the door before it slooooowly opens and the waitress pokes her head inside. “You alright, honey? Was there something wrong with the eggs?” THAT pretty much killed me more than the Montgomery comment, but I managed to squeak out “I’m fine!” before cracking up even harder. Breakfast was tasting a lot better by the time I’d gotten out, but the King of Comedy and Touching Himself and his merry men had paid and left by then. When I finally finished and asked for the check, the waitress says that my meal was paid for as well and yep, It was my not so secret Santa probably pleased with himself that he made some random stranger almost lose his lunch breakfast twice in a few minutes…

2 thoughts on “In the Zone: “Chicken in a Can”

  1. Too funny! You know, I’ve seen this episode dozens of times and I never thought twice about the chicken. I figured: It was the sixties — they put everything in cans. Even laughter.


    • Well, I’ve just found out you CAN indeed buy chicken in a can, but it’s pretty vile:

      In that episode, there were just legs in that can, so I’ll automatically assume they were cooked up for the shoot and placed in that can. Otherwise, the though of eating what’s in the real cans I’ve seen online is too stomach churning. That said, it’s now easy to “replicate” the effect somewhat with actual chicken legs (cooked, of course) and a nicely sized coffee can. I’d need to make up some sort of fake label to go with it, but that’s another project entirely.

      And ha! Canned laughter makes me think of Cavender is Coming (eeek!)…


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