Sunday, November 29, 2009
The legend of the rooster
I woke up at 3 a.m. Saturday morning with a strong desire to strangle a rooster. Lest you think I’ve flown the coup (ha, ha, ha), I’d better start at the beginning.
It was Black Friday in the woods. You see, each year on the day after Thanksgiving, while others crowd the mall, my family and hundreds like us flee to one of Georgia’s state parks to either (a) escape from relatives (b) work off the extra dressing (c) get as far away from the stores as possible or (d) all of the above.
This year we chose Tallulah Gorge as our destination, with its cushy rubber path leading, or should I say misleading, us to a horrific descent of 1,000 steps to the bottom of the gorge. Word to the wise – when the park ranger asks if you’ve ever been down there before and then looks at you and shakes his head as to say another one bites the dust, don’t get offended and insist that he underestimated you and your family. And don’t tell him you aren’t afraid of crossing swift water on slippery rocks, like he said his wife was, because you are probably a lot younger than she. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t even think of bragging about what kind of shape you are in because he will see you slinking by the desk after your hike – sweaty, dirty and barely able to put one foot in front of the other. And he is not above telling you I told you so. Just take my word for it!
But back to the rooster story. We managed to drag ourselves out of the gorge without getting wet, a miracle if you know my son’s attraction to water.
“I’m so glad I didn’t fall in,” he said, in the truck on the way out of the park. “Mama said she was going to be mad at me if I did.”
“Which scares you more – falling in the freezing water and getting swept downstream over the waterfall or mama being mad at you?” my husband asked.
“Mama being mad! I could handle the other,” he said, without hesitation.
I smiled proudly. I must be doing an okay job then, I thought.
We were dry but hungry, so after a pit stop at a gift shop called Goats on the Roof, we began looking for food. And, yes, Goats on the Roof actually has goats on the roof. I can imagine how that marketing strategy came about … Say, Daryl, what if we built a gift shop and put goats on the roof? Yeah, Larry, that’s a great idea. We can use your goats. But what do we call it? … (No disrespect, it’s actually a very cool place.)
Long story short, we ended up eating at the Dillard House and taking the last room they had, which was fortunate because I’m sure Norman Bates was running the only other motel in the area with vacancies.
Since this was our first visit to the Dillard House, we couldn’t believe the quality and quantity of the food.
“This is food heaven,” said my son.
Not wanting to waste, plus famished from our day’s adventure, we ate and ate and ate – fried shrimp, country fried steak, fried catfish (Recognize a theme here?), French fries, BBQ chicken, creamed corn, slaw, relishes, salads, butter beans, green beans, one sweet casserole with coconut made from an unidentifiable vegetable, and a creamed cabbage dish that I was relieved I didn’t like. After our food frenzy, we waddled, I mean, walked to our cozy room, marveling again at our good fortune.
The room was warm, and our beds soft and full of pillows. Before we knew it, we were asleep, and I was having a wonderful dream about being at my grandmother’s house, when “Cock-a-doodle-do,” a rooster crows. Really Cock-a-doodle-do sounds pleasant compared to the loud squawking sound this creature was making. It was more like a “RACK-A-RACK-A-RAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCCCCKKKK.” And it went on all night long with his friend joining him.
At about 3:30 a.m., I elbowed my snoring husband, “Do you hear that racket?”
“I do now,” he said.
He did not go out and kill the rooster as I suggested. He did eventually go out and throw a rock at it, however, and reported back that there were two, and they were nestled in a tree directly across from our room.
At about 4:30 a.m. I felt like I was undergoing some psychological torture. The minute I would start to doze off, they would crow again. Clearly, these creatures were mocking me. At about 5:30 a.m., my son woke up.
“Mom, do you hear that chicken?” he asked. “If I had a shot gun or bow and arrow, I would kill it!”
“No, son, I wouldn’t let you,” I said. “That punishment is too easy. I’d rather strangle it with my bare hands.”
Then my animal-loving daughter spoke up.
“Mom, poor roosters. They are just confused by the street lights, poor things.”
“Why do roosters crow at the sun, anyway?” I asked, thinking that the Bates Motel might have been preferable.
Speaking of the sun, it finally came up, and I walked out the door to confront my torturer and put an end to this once and for all. As I did, he and his friend, or, perhaps, his rival, flew right over my head. I guess they saw the crazed look in my eye. The kids thought it was the funniest thing ever.
In fact, instead of being grumpy from lack of sleep, we laughed and laughed as each of us took turns imitating the roosters’ crow. My son said mine sounded like Scooby-doo. We then went out and commiserated with the other sleepless hotel guests. I had just vowed to never return as long as roosters roamed the planet when my daughter made me promise to come back in the spring.
On the way home, I thought maybe one day when they are grown and at the table with their families, they’ll remember this trip fondly, and say to their children, “Did I ever tell you about the time your grandma wanted to strangle a rooster?”