My youth often places me outside of Charlestonian norms. Being raised in Colombia gives me a certain cultural edge which places me just outside of what seems to be the standard American experience. But really, these are perhaps subtleties which are inescapable when different cultures clash. For example, when I was about seven years old there was a certain level of normalcy to being invited to the birthday party of every child I had ever met. Dresses, balloons, clowns, soda, and cake were staples to these parties- as were party favors. Nothing unusual about this, I have often experienced party favors in America ranging from candy and flowers to photographs and glasses. But never have I gone to an American birthday party and received a baby chick.
As such, I gained a companion during one of my many social engagements that quickly became my best friend, it had little choice on the matter. My family thought it best to keep my chick at our mountain house which we often went to during the weekends and holidays. Living in the city, our mountain house was an escape from the city life which we retreated to as much as possible. Thus, I only saw my flightless friend a couple of days a week and was able to note its growth from tiny yellow creature to fully functional brown menace within a few months time. At that point it seemed that the only game we played involved some sort of chase scene.
Upon arriving on one such weekend and having had no time to play with my chicken, I was called by my grandmother for lunch. It was chicken soup, sancocho, as it is called in Cali. I thought little of it as it is a traditional dish which my family often enjoyed, and so it went that the weekend passed and I had not gotten around to going by the chicken coup or the garden. The next weekend, I walked to visit my dear friend but found no one. I searched out the groundskeeper thinking he if anyone would know where it was, but the vagueness of his answer put me under the impression my chicken was out and about. Giving it personal freedom I settled on a different venture and spent the weekend with few cares.
Arriving again to the mountain house, I was surprised once again at my inability to locate a fat flightless bird with little curiosity. Alas, I commented to my mom of my frustration and was nonchalantly informed that in buying the chicken feed the groundskeeper had made a mistake and bought a fattener instead of a regular chicken feed. My chicken had become so overweight that it had been in danger of a heart attack, which would spoil the meat. It had not died in vain as it had gone to feed us that delicious soup to which I had second helpings. My conscience was not actually burdened as it had been so long since I had eaten my friend, and this was the first time I was introduced by my mom to the concept of altruism. I am not a vegetarian, but I did love that chicken.