"A family from Newport News got more than they bargained for when they bought chicken wings from McDonald's last night."
Behind her, an icon appears. It is a picture of a chicken head. Underneath the picture is the caption: CHICKEN HEAD. It looks like a parody of the evening news. Easily, George W. Bush's or Al Gore's picture could have been behind that newscaster.
"Take a look at this," the anchor says.
Then, you see a close-up of a hand poking around in a box of fried chicken. The hand grabs something and slowly pulls it out: It's a fried Chicken Head! Aeeeeii! It's disgusting: Everyone around your buddy's computer gapes in amazement. Then they start guffawing.
Because it's an entire chicken head: comically parted beak, eyeballs, even a little red comb peeking through the batter.
This nation is currently trying to extricate itself from a political tar pit; it wallows around like a bellowing mastodon. What we need more than anything right now is one good sustained belly laugh.
Thank you, Chicken Head. Please scurry to every cubicle across this chad-weary nation.
The story: On Tuesday afternoon, a Newport News woman named Katherine Ortega took her 5-year-old son to a McDonald's, where they bought a box of fried chicken wings (a special promotion). As she passed them around her dinner table, she realized that one of the wings wasn't a wing!
She called WVEC-TV, Channel 13 in Newport News. They thought it was a hoax until they dispatched a cameraman to Ortega's home.
"Our cameraman called in and said, 'The batter on the chicken head is the exact match of all the rest of the pieces of chicken,' " reports WVEC news director Jim Tellus.
Now, the facts of this story could have been blandly reported: That Ortega and the McDonald's franchise owner met yesterday to discuss the situation (translation: "How much do you want?"); that the owner issued a sober statement promising a "thorough investigation" and that Ortega didn't return a call seeking comment; that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating.
But that would have been wrong. Because the beauty of the Chicken Head story is it's a burst of pure and happy absurdity in a time of tedious, orchestrated absurdity.
Thank you, Chicken Head. For an exhausted nation, your timing could not have been batter, er, better.
Click on www.pilotonline.com/videoNEWS/nw1130hea.html. You must have RealPlayer.
© 2000 The Washington Post Company
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