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“Chicken Dinner”

My grandmother would cook us dinner, chicken, acorn squash, and ice milk for dessert. She was diabetic and had flat blue ceramic bowls of stale candy wrapped in plastic and foil in her apartment. My grandfather would drive us places like the zoo at Central Park or sleigh riding at Delwood Country Club and wait in the car until we were done. She never let us ride in taxis and always carried tangerines in her purse. She would order extra chicken legs from the butcher for dinner. “I ordered extra chicken legs from the butcher just for you, Carolyn, because I know you love them,” she said. She would suck the bones of her chicken and pile them on her plate. Then she would take my bones and then my sister’s bones and then my grandfather’s bones and suck the marrow. If my parents were with us, she would suck their bones too. The bones balanced in a big heap on her plate. She wore big gold rings and licked wet chicken juice off her fingers. Then she would make coffee. She would push her plate to the side to make room for her ice milk dessert and her coffee with milk and sugar that she drank from bone china. Sometimes a sucked bone would fall onto the table, and she would pick it up and put it back on the bone mountain. She would pour her hot coffee so it would overflow, and then she’d slurp it from her saucer. She left brown coffee rings on the white tablecloth. I often wondered about all those boneless, legless chickens, wobbling like Weebles.


After graduating UCLA with a BA in English literature, Carolyn Ziel has worked as an executive recruiter, writer, and speaker. She’s studied with Jack Grapes, Richard Jones, John Fox, and Perie Longo. Carolyn is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Visit her here: for more.

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