CHICKEN GIZZARDS AND THE PROPER USE OF RUBBERS
When you're seven, the world has no discernable size, and the days of summer tend to blend themselves together into a long procession...like an endless, slow-moving train of multi-colored boxcars filled with the lessons of life. Pick a car...any car...and find yourself...
...sitting at my grandmother's table, curiously eying a more-than-ample serving of fried chicken gizzards. Not your average, barnyard variety fried chicken gizzards, mind you...but huge, hard, stomach-turning, PRIZE-WINNING fried chicken gizzards right out of the black-iron skillet of hot lard on Granny-Tex's stove. Nothing like a hot, hearty lunch for an aspiring young cowboy.
Trouble was, I wasn't about to eat those things...I knew it, and SHE knew it. Still, we had to keep up appearances, so I passed the time by arranging the little buggers in rows...three by three...two by fiveâ€¦while she, playing the role of advocate for all those starving children in Africa, dropped a fresh batch of salvation into the grease. It had the makings of a LONG lunch.
Suddenly remembering how, that very morning, Roy Rogers had explained that all good cowboys learn to impervize (whatever THAT meant), I gobbled down a half slice of bread, and carefully slipped two of the offending morsels into the pocket of my jeans. Chew, make "mmm-mmm" sounds, make sure she wasn't looking...not too fast, a few at a time.
Four slices of bread later, not only was my plate empty, but she was happy, and I was suitably fueled for an afternoon of summer cowboyin'. I didn't give much thought to the big greasy spot down the side of my jeans as I rode away, and luckily, she didn't seem to notice.
Since my trusty Daisy repeating BB rifle had once again been confiscated by the local Granny-Sheriff (for shooting empty fruit jars off the shelves on the back porch), my latest weapon of choice against an ever increasing number of outlaws was a good old-fashioned, homemade slingshot. And having recently acquired a new set of rubbers at the corner drugstore, PLUS, having discovered a limited supply of ammunition (marbles from the antique Chinese Checkers game on the top shelf in Granny's closet), I resumed my duties as defender of the ranch.
The bad guys seemed especially brave that day, and in a few short hours, my supply of small round bullets was all but exhausted. And as any cowboy will tell you...just as you run short on ammo...the biggest, meanest, ugliest outlaw this side of the Pecos will ride into town, and boldly assume a lookout on top of the old pitcher-pump beside the back porch. Cleverly disguised as a red-breasted robin, he didn't fool ME for an instant.
Sneaking closer, I reached for one last bullet I knew wasn't there, and my hand came out holding a cold, hard, greasy lump of Granny Tex's salvation. I weighed the possibilities and decidedâ€¦why not? As Roy had said...a cowboy has to impervize.
To accurately use a home-made slingshot, one must learn to properly stretch the rubbers for maximum projectile velocity. Not enough stretch, and the shot falls short...too much stretch, and the aim is seriously affected. Steady cowboy...smooth and easy...don't jerk the shot...aim...now RELEASE.
Mini-cowboys are not aviation engineers, but oddly enough, there is something aerodynamically sound about a fried chicken gizzard. It flew like an arrow, and I only missed the outlaw by an inch or two. But in the background, the kitchen window was a much larger target, and target size all but negates any slight error in a young cowboy's aim.
The smooth glass was no match for the force of the new rubbers, nor was the old, dented coffee pot on the back burner of the stove, which exploded in a dark, liquefied, mushroom-shaped cloud. The gizzard itself, not being suitably designed for such speed and impact, fragmented prematurely...the pieces splattering harmlessly across the feed store calendar taped to the kitchen wall.
That night...you guessed it...jail food. And there's only one thing worse than a fried chicken gizzard...and that's two dozen cold, leftover, fried chicken gizzards. If you can keep em down, they're filling enough. But the bad part is, they chew like...new rubber.