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Tours de Farce: Playin' Chicken

12:00 AM Tuesday 8/9/05 |   |

These two guys are sitting next to each other in a bar.

You know how it goes. One drink leads to another, followed by more drinks, and by the end of the night, the first guy turns to the second guy and says;

"I'll bet my car is tougher than your chicken."

But the second guy just laughs. You see, he's heard it all before. In fact, his chicken is the toughest, meanest chicken in the county. Maybe even in the state. So the second guy answers back to the first guy, "What kind of car you got?"

To which the first guy answers, "A 1966 Mustang. You game?"

And the second guy sits there for a second or two thinking. Finally, he says, "What's it worth to you?"

"Well," says the first guy as he raises his glass to his lips. "I've got one pair of Beck tickets that says my Mustang can beat your chicken."

"Hmmm," answers the second guy. "I don't know. My chicken doesn't take on any old car for one pair of tickets. You're gonna have to do better than that. What else you got?"

The first guy reaches into his pocket. "Lessee... I can also throw in a pair of tickets for Megadeth, and a couple of tickets for Death Cab For Cutie. You in?"

"I'm thinking about it," answers the second guy. "Are you telling me that if my chicken beats your Mustang, that I'll win all those tickets you just put down on the bar?"

"That's right," says the first guy. "Winner take all."

"Friend," answers the second guy. "You got a deal!"

Well, everyone else in the bar wants in on the action. People are pulling out their own tickets. Tickets for bands like My Chemical Romance and Gang Of Four, and artists like Jimmy Buffett, Ben Lee and Eric Johnson. And sure, most of the other people in the bar are betting on the Mustang, but a few customers are chicken lovers, and they're pulling out their tickets for The Rolling Stones and U2, and placing them in the chicken's corner. The two guys are watching all the action as everyone puts tickets for Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and Stryper into the bartender's hands for "safe keeping." Finally, the two men rise up from their barstools.

"Where do you want to do this?" asks the second man."

"How 'bout the alley out back," answers the first.

"Sound good to me," says the second man as he drains his beer glass. "Let's do it!"

So the two guys, along with the bar crowd as well as the bartender holding all the tickets, including ones for The White Stripes and Nada Surf, head out to the alley behind the tavern. "Man, oh, man," says the first guy. "My Mustang is gonna kick your chicken's butt clear into the next county!"

"We'll just see about that," says the second man as he puts his chicken down on the pavement at one end of the alley, while the first man walks to the other end, gets in his Mustang and starts revving up the engine.

So there it was, the timeless battle between chicken and automobile. The first guy keeps revving the engine of his Mustang, while the chicken stands at the other end of the alley, scratching at the pavement with her talons and lookin' mighty fierce. The bartender shouts out, "On your marks! Get set... GO!"

And the Mustang's tires squeal and the entire alley fills with the stench of burnt rubber. The first man takes his foot off of the brake, floors the accelerator and the Mustang lurches forward towards the chicken. 20 mph... 30 mph... 40... 50... 60... 70... The Mustang barrels towards the chicken. It looks like the chicken's goose is cooked. And then...

With barely a squawk, the chicken, using her beak, grabs the Mustang by its front bumper and then flips the car into the air sending it crashing into the wall at the end of the alley. Final score: Chicken 1. Mustang Zip!

The people still talk about that day when the ultimate competition between chicken and automobile played out before their very eyes. Some people talk about how the chicken won them tickets for The Posies and Pearl Jam, while other people talk about how they lost their tickets for Nickel Creek and The Samples by betting on the Mustang. But no matter which side they bet on - the plucky skill of the feathered birdbrain, or the finely engineered machine from Detroit - they all learned something that day. They learned that horsepower isn't always a match for chicken power. They learned that pistons, valves and cylinders can't top a bird with an attitude. And they learned that, when it comes to bar bets, a chicken is just as good as a Mustang.

But more importantly, they learned the meaning behind that old saying about how the hen is mightier than the Ford.

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