Weather permitting, I usually have my lunch in the park on my favorite bench. It’s surprising how many people sit down next to you and start talking. I call it “Bench Talk”.
One afternoon a woman, looking flustered, plunked herself down and said:
“I just saw two men hunting pigeons with a butterfly net and then they threw them in a burlap sack. Can you believe that?”
“Lady, you see a lot of peculiar things going on now-a-days.” I took a bite out of my chicken sandwich.
“I confronted them and asked what they were doing? Neither man spoke much English. But one of the men smiled and said:
“Eat, eat. We are poor people.”
“Can you believe it, they were catching pigeons to eat!”
“Well lady, someone had to catch this chicken I’m eating.”
She shook her head.
“Some immigrants eat pigeons and other strange things in their homeland.”
She gave me a disdainful look.
“It must be illegal in Chicago and it’s unhealthy,” the woman squealed.
“No lady, it’s not illegal or unhealthy, just remember to pluck them.”
“But pigeons are like pets. How can people eat something that is a pet?”
The woman kept looking at my lunch, checking for pigeon!
“Look, think about a lamb, it’s even-tempered, pet-like, and they don’t attack humans, they’re quite decent and delicious.”
“Lamb! I can take it or leave it,” she scowled.
“Compare the docile lamb to a cat. Cats are known to be vicious. They kill little birds, tiny cute mice and anything that’s defenseless. Cats scratch humans and they give us the evil eye. Yet people eat lambs and would turn green if you told them to eat a cat.”
“I’ve never eaten a cat,” said the woman.
“Neither have I, I haven’t found a decent recipe for cat, but there are some excellent recipes for pigeon.”
“I might be able to eat a pigeon but never a cat,” said the woman.
“Cat might be good, I think some Asians eat them in their homeland.”
“Sir, are you recommending that I try cat?”
“Well lady, whether you eat a cat or not is your personal choice.”
She glared at me like I was nuts, so I gave her one parting shot.
“ If you ever do try eating cat, I have a cooking tip for you: Always remove the bell from around the cat’s neck before cooking. You don’t want to make a tinkling sound when you belch!”