Here is the situation with the chickens in Luckenbach as I assessed it, something to which David Kinne alluded in an earlier comment. I am not new to chickens. On the farm in its high times, there were usually about 70 layers at a minimum producing eggs. At a tender age, I would gather the eggs. My mother would candle the eggs in the basement of the house. She and I would haul them to Marion and sell them. If you do not know what "candling" is, do not give it a second thought.
Those hens were locked up and chaste. As soon as the young cocks, who lived in their own compound, started to approximate adulthood, my mother would have their heads. We ate them. They were gone. Never saw a hen in their lives. Those innocent, never-tested creatures were nothing like the colorful roosters strutting around Luckenbach. The roosters strutting around Luckenbach are poultry from hell.
Luckenbach roosters are way juiced up on chicken testosterone. They are cocky. I counted seven of them present when I was there. There were only three hens as I counted them. Those three hens’ eyes were glazed over.
The fact that there were only three hens and that a hen can only do so much made those roosters competitive. They were continually staring each other down, flapping their wings, profiling, and crowing—crowing constantly. Noisy. Someone might be singing I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry at the open mike on the outdoor stage, and a couple of those roosters would sound off at precisely the wrong moment. Ruined the whole effect of the tune. Comparable to someone howling like a dog during an aria.
Over coffee one morning I suggested to Danny, the bartender and a singer/song writer, as everyone is there, that we ought to kill and eat at least three of those roosters as a service to the community. It would cut down the ruckus. Danny thought this a capital idea. He was going to take it up with Virgil, the manager of the store and everything else, as nearly as I could tell. Danny may have done that. But the further south you travel in this hemisphere, the less of anything actually comes of such bright ideas.
While sitting around listening to music or chatting, I watched those roosters. I came to understand how cockfighting got started. I detest cockfighting as much as anyone. I do not agree that “to understand all is to forgive all.” In fact many times to understand only provides better reasons to condemn something and do battle with it. But all that aside. . . .
You watch those roosters strut around and challenge each other over the three hens, and you cannot help but speculate as to whether, say, the red one could whip the green one’s ass. You start to size them up, make some judgments about the assets and liabilities of each—size, musculature, spurs, attitude, heart. You start to pit them against each other in your mind. You begin to see then that it is a small step from that speculation to fencing off a little circular pit and putting two of those roosters in it to have at each other. Settle the whole question.
I was not thinking that anybody ought to do that. I am saying that I began to understand how such a thing, so mystifying before one thinks it through, came to happen. The fact is that it did not just come to happen. It became an overriding passion of a great number of people in this world. There are probably thousands of cockfights going on in the world as I write this . . . okay, maybe 73 cockfights going on in the world as I write this.
That was where I was on this whole issue when two of those roosters started scuffling and totally interrupted Blue Moon of Kentucky being sung by a husband and wife duet in beautiful harmony. At that point I lost my philosophical detachment. I personally would have put those two together in a little circular pit–I am talking about the roosters now, not the husband and wife duet. I would have watched while they tore each other up. I would have cooked the loser and ate him, sharing with friends of course. I mean it.
This would be the winner.
But they were not my roosters.