Poultry Psychoanalysis


Angela Richart

“Doc, do you really think you can help me?”

“Of course,” the doctor smiled warmly, “but that requires you opening up and telling me about that baggage.”

Dr. Mallard stroked his goatee as he sized up his newest patient, Chuck. He was a quiet type, who didn’t care to talk much, probably from years of emotional damage. He was some washed up celebrity who buckled under the pressure of fame. If he’d seen one case, he’d seen a thousand.

“Now why don’t you go back to the beginning and tell me how this whole thing started,” probed the doctor.

“Well,” Chuck started. “It all started on a dreary day in 1847…”

“New York City was a beautiful place to live, horses and buggies, people shouting happily. There was no better place for a chicken to grow up. I was going about, minding my own business. You know, clucking, pecking the ground, making eggs, that sort of thing. When some spiffy, stiff necked man in a suit came up to me. He said he was some sort of philosopher.”

“I see,” Dr. Mallard mused, “and how did you feel about the man?”

“Honestly Doc, I thought he was a nutjob. He had a theory that there was not a creature as intelligent or profound as a chicken. He said he wanted to think like I thought and to do so he needed to do as I did. I was just like, whatever floats your boat, city man.”

Dr. Mallard scratched his head in thought, “So you were hostile toward him?”

“Nah, I just kind of ignored the guy. I just continued about my day, clucking, pecking, egg making and he kept following behind me clucking and pecking away. He asked me all these complicated questions about my beliefs and values. I just said, ‘Sir, I’m a chicken. What values do I need? I cluck and peck and make eggs?’ He just kept scribbling these notes in a big book.”

The doctor considered Chuck’s words, “So did the note writing make you uncomfortable at all…?”

“Not really, like I said I pretty much ignored the guy. But at one point I spy me a big, fat, juicy grasshopper on the other side of the road. So naturally, being a chicken I crossed the road to catch it…”

“I’m going to stop you right there,” Dr. Mallard cut him off, “I need to know why you crossed the road.”

Chuck’s shoulders heaved with sobs as he sputtered out the heart of his gut wrenching problem.

“That’s just it, Doc, I don’t know. That philosopher reported his findings to the journalist people. When it went to print I became the famous chicken that crossed the road. It’s crazy how one afternoon can change your entire life. People ask me all the time why I did it and I have no answer for them. All I can say is ‘to get to the other side.’ But even then I don’t know if I’m being honest with myself.”

Dr. Mallard loved this part of the session, when the walls came down and the patient really opened up and let out their inner demons. This, however, was a monstrosity of a demon. He’d heard of the famous chicken that crossed the road, but he was almost flattered to be sitting across from him! He could see how the crushing weight of the question “why did you cross the road” could drive one to madness over the years.

“It’s horrible, Doc, I can’t walk down the street without a sneering chorus of puns. ‘Why did the duck cross the road…to prove he wasn’t a chicken!’ I can’t even wake up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror. “

The good doc couldn’t help but snicker. Chicken jokes were his forte. “Did you hear the one about the dinosaur?”

Chuck looked up sullenly, “No, but I’m sure I will eventually.”

“Why did the dinosaur cross the road?” the doctor sputtered out.

Chuck just stared with a deadpan expression on his beak.

“Because—the chicken didn’t exist yet!” he said between fits of hysterical laughter.

Dr. Mallard’s eyes were watering and his sides were aching, when he finally composed himself.

“So you crossed the road, and then what happened?” Dr. Mallard inquired, fully recovered.

“Well, by the time I got there, the grasshopper was gone. So I rolled around in the dirt to get his scent and then I walked back to the other side.”

Dr. Mallard cut in again, “Wait, wait, wait. Let me get this straight. So you crossed the road, rolled in the dirt and crossed the road again? Am I getting that right?”

“Yes, sir,” replied the glum patient.

“So…” the doc pondered, “does that make you a dirty double crosser?”

The doctor burst out laughing once more, his big belly shaking like a San Francisco earthquake. He began sliding down his chair and onto the hardwood floor of his office.

Chuck had finally had enough; this was his last attempt at therapy.

“Oh, laugh all you want! I’ve heard it all before,” he shouted at the still incapacitated doctor, “While I’m crossing the road I’m poultry in motion. I shouldn’t cross the road because it would be a fowl proceeding! You doctors are all the same, thinking it’s okay to ruffle my feathers. Well I’ve had it!”

Chuck stormed out of the office, still hearing the fading echoes of the doctor’s incessant howling. He should have known better than to trust a duck for a doctor. That Dr. Mallard was a real quack!  Sure enough a few weeks later Chuck was a feature in the daily newspaper, so much for “duck”tor-patient confidentiality.

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