"Oh. So, you're living at the old chicken farm?"
Leave it to the locals. Saturday night, Corb and I were invited to gather at the local pub in our new town, South Eldredge, to celebrate the surprise sixtieth birthday party for one of our favorite friends, Mama Sue. Mama Sue is a world traveler and dispenser of sympathetic motherly advice. Oh, and a frequent spotter of celebrities. They simply seem to fall into her path, and usually in the strangest of circumstances. Like, she'll be roller skating down a country road, will fall into a mud puddle, look up, and exclaim, "Oh my God...it's Liam Neeson!"
Sue's a lot of fun to be around. This past January, we spent five days with her in New York City, seeing more Broadway shows than you could shake a fist at. While we were there, she bumped into Carol Channing, Liza Minelli, and Hugh Jackman. So of course we were happy to be invited by her daughter, Sister Sarah, to the culmination of her fifth decade on this planet.
The pub is located maybe three minutes from our house. And thank God, because Corb and I had spent the whole day FINALLY moving everything out of the old apartment and cleaning it up. If the place had been any farther away, I'm not sure we would found the energy to go anywhere, frankly. After the long day, it was a quick hop back home for a change of clothes, and then, off to the party.
They stuffed the lot of us into a secret room in the pub, waiting for Mama Sue to arrive. No word of a lie--there's like this secret wall that pushes open, like something out of Diary of Anne Frank. Corb and I whiled away the time hanging with some of our friends, all members of the local theater group, the South Eldredge Artstastic Playhouse (or SEAP, for short). I nursed my signature Appletini, and the two us caught everyone up (whether they wanted to be caught up or not) with the details of our move.
"Oh, you're in South Eldredge, now? And where are you living?" was the standard response.
"Oh, it's an apartment community near the local Shop and Grab," we'd say. "You can't miss it."
"Where?" And we'd give directions.
Usually, recognition, at that point. "Oh, you're living at the old chicken farm!" they'd exclaim.
And I'd bite my lip and refrain from blurting out a cock joke.
Turns out, before our friendly little complex was built a few years ago, the land housed an enormous chicken farm. "It used to smell something awful," Mama Sue informed us, when she finally arrived. "You could smell it from miles away!"
Might be a reason for that. Today I did a little bit of checking, and discovered the name of the chicken farm. And, from that, this charming entry, from the local paper: "April 7, 2005. The skeletal remains of an unidentified person were found yesterday in a plastic bag beneath shrubs on a former Mansfield chicken farm, police said. It was not clear how long the decomposed body had been there, police said. Someone who lives on the property reported finding the bones yesterday about 1:50 p.m. in a wooded area on Lamonte's Poultry Farm. Neither police nor prosecutors would identify the person who made the discovery. An autopsy was planned for today."
Hmmm. Maybe I won't tell the kids about THAT little bit of trivia.
Thankfully, no one at the party identified the place as the "Chicken farm where the human bones were found." That wouldn't have been cool. Still, they all knew it as the old chicken farm, old human bones or not.
Funny how local people always remember things the way they once were, not the way they are today. It's as if there's a picture of the past, frozen in their heads. I lived in North Eldedge for most of my life, and used to pick my kids up for certain things at the "old junior high," even though it hadn't been a junior high for over twenty years. The local mall was located near the "old drive-in," the local CVS was where the "old HoJo's" used to be (and man, do I miss having french fries and iced tea with my friends Buns and Pauloo at that old Howard Johnson's...)
And now, Corb and I live at the smelly old chicken farm. Well, it could be worse, I suppose. Maybe South Eldredge had an old whorehouse, somewhere. Now THAT would have been somewhat embarrassing.
Anyway, it was a fun party. Complete with a new Mama Sue celebrity spotting!
"Tom and I were touring China just last month," Sue said, chugging down a glass of white wine. "One day, we were taking a bus tour from Beijing into one of the outskirts. I realized about two hours into the trip that there was no bathroom in the bus, and nature was really calling. So I went up to the bus driver and asked him what he could do about it, and he pulled over to an abandoned building and told us to relieve ourselves behind it! Well, for the guys, it wasn't that bad. They just had to stand there and hold it. But for the women, we had to squat behind a pile of hay. So there I am, squatting down, with my head peering out from behind a bale, and suddenly I look up and say, 'Oh my God...it's Tom Selleck!'"
I tell you, it could only happen to Mama Sue.