by Ba Feng-ku, Asia Correspondent, Dragon City Journal
Hong Kong, April 14, 2010. An American professor visiting Hong Kong heard the plaintive cries of French chicken while passing a market stall in Kowloon. Professor James Clapp told reporters, “At first, when I heard the words ‘m’aidez, m’aidez,’ I could scarcely believe they were coming from a chicken hanging amongst a row of roasted ducks. He was still alive, but I could see that his feet were in bad shape. And I was amazed that he was French.”
Clapp went on to explain that the chicken, Charles de Coqauvin IV, told him that he had come to Hong Kong as the mascot of the French Rugby Sevens team, but had been kidnapped (“cheeknapped,” Coqauvin said, heavily accented) and sold to a poultry vender. “But I am a rubber chicken,” the much relieved rooster protested, “not good pour mangez.” And then Clapp filled in the gruesome details.
In the desperate hours after the brave professor snatched the bird and made off in a chase worthy of a James Bond film, the chicken told him that the poultry vender was actually renting out de Coqauvin to Chinese families to teach their children how to eat chicken feet, a reputed Chinese delicacy. “Les enfants, zey would gnaw and gnaw on my feet, causing me great pain. I would cry out, but zey would only laugh because I do not speak Cantonese. Il etait horrible!”
The tormenting rentals went on for weeks, and in between de Coqauvin watched helplessly as numerous ducks went to the roasting oven, basted with sauces and then chopped up for the fowl-devouring Chinese. He survived only by forcing down morsels of cow stomach, sea slug, “and other delicacies,” the member of a titled Lyon family of French mascots related with a wince and then a wry Gallic smile. It was evident that the chicken was not fond of Cantonese food, or being Cantonese food.
“Charles is one tough chicken,” Clapp said, quickly realizing the irony. “Well, French rubber chickens are a special breed. I am just glad I could be there when he needed a friend. I hope this can make some amends to the French after that stupid ‘freedom fries’ business.” The chicken just gazed up at his hero, his eyes tearing up.
The chiceken and his savior plan to write a book about their experience and will devote the royalties to a new organization devoted to exposing the tragedy of French rubber chicken-snatching in China,” Clapp said. “It’s big. We’re also planning to do a screenplay about a rubber chicken that is a kung fu master. Think Bruce Lee in a chicken suit. I believe Chuck can star in his own story, once he gets back on his feet.” It was clear that a brotherly human-poultry bond had begun to form, and a new day in Franco-American relations.
De Coqauvin, who, from a certain angle and in very low light, bears a slight resemblance to the late actor Claude Raines, looked up at the professor, who, from a certain angle and in a completely-dark room could be mistaken for actor Humphrey Bogart, and summed it up well. “Zis could ze beginning of une beautiful friendship,” he said, looking down at his bandaged feet.
Listen to Chuck Anthem
© 2010, James A. Clapp (UrbisMedia Ltd. Pub. 5.15.2010)