Teaching Blunders #2: Rotisserie Chicken

In Republic, Plato penned a timeless aphorism describing human resourcefulness: Necessity is the mother of invention.

This is especially true of hungry 23-year-old single men. I am what Shane Claiborne, in his thought-provoking book entitled Irresistible Revolution, calls a “freegan.” I will eat anything that is free.

If you provide the food, they will come. Or, at least, I will. Church functions. Weddings. Seminars. Networking events. Roundtable discussions. You may have heard that the way to a man’s heart is through is stomach. This is only partly true. Plenty of women are lousy cooks. The food has to be appetizing. Glut us on fine victuals and sumptuous bebidos, and we get lethargic. Our thoughts get muddy as a spring creek. We really just want to bask in the sun and sleep off our engorged state. Blood migrating from our brains to our stomachs to aid in digestion—not the food itself—is responsible for a man’s willingness to make rash decisions and exercise poor judgment in the realm of matrimony and romance. If you remember Templeton the Rat from the cartoon movie Charlotte’s Web, then you have a good idea of what I’m talking about. 

We plan smorgasbords and we lose our senses. 

I was 23 years old, single, and teaching high school English and if you dangled the carrot in front of my nose, I’d agree to anything. When Bryan Solomon proposed that we roast three chickens in his electric rotisserie and spend 5th period celebrating Thanksgiving early, of course I agreed. 

Every man I know loves a hearty Thanksgiving repast, and having no kitchen in my classroom was no longer an obstacle.

Bryan got to school early the next day with all the ingredients. He stuffed a stick of butter and basil leaves inside of each chicken. He then rubbed salt and pepper into the skin. Oh sweet nectar of the gods!

My room filled with the perfume of roasted fowl.

I thought nothing of it. Why should I? It was, after all, my room. The first four classes of students wrinkled up their noses, but they got used to it by the end of class.

My mentor, Sharon Tracey, poked her head in the room just before fifth period.

She was furious.

Uh oh.

Why?, she wanted to know, was the hallway filled with smoke? Why did every classroom in our wing of Harding Hall smell like the Kroger deli?

Well, that was an easy one! Ms. Tracey. I told her that Bryan Solomon and I were roasting three chickens as a reward for good behavior in my fifth period class.

She didn’t smile. She said that the smell of roasted chicken was so small that students leaving the cafeteria downstairs were wondering what that smell was. Had she mentioned that the whole school was filling up with smoke?

[Boy, was this chicken going to be good!]

I asked her if she wanted any.

One side of her smile curled up in a smile of sorts. Ha! I had her! There would be no repercussions. 

She declined. She said that if I got it in my head to cook for my students in the future, would I please do it outside?

“Oh, absolutely!” I was adamant. “I had no idea this was going to happen. I just wanted to thank my students for being so well-behaved.”

She shook her head, finally grinned in earnest, and shut the door.

Ms. Tracey was the finest teacher I had in high school. I had her two years for Latin and two years for English. She is the reason I fell in love with writing. I owed her a wing at least.

Note to self: Rosemary would have been a nice touch.

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