When I was a little girl, pet stores used to sell cute, fluffy little chicks at Easter time. They would even dye them shades of pink and green and blue. One of my oldest brothers brought home six yellow cuties for the youngest of our large brood. My mother didn’t get upset, figuring we would probably “love them to death” and the chicks took up residence in a glass aquarium. We each selected the one we would call our own and named them using names we had selected from a picture book of saints. Mine, the cutest, was Sebastian, a name that would much later become my confirmation name. (until I switched teams and became a Lutheran) Two of my brothers chose outlandish names and also used them on their confirmation certificates– Cornelius and Xavier.
Our chicks grew from cute little yellow cotton balls to fairly ugly black and white creatures with some disturbing red lumps around their heads and necks. They quickly outgrew their aquarium and our father built a coop in our suburban Massachusetts back yard. We would rush home from school to see our pets – the only ones of their kind in the neighborhood. My brothers would ride their bikes with Cornelius and Xavier on their shoulders. Sebastian rode in a white, plastic basket with flowers on the front of my tricycle.
Eventually, we learned that our chicks were all roosters, as evidenced by the all-night crowing coming from our back yard. Neighbors started to complain, and my parents finally told my brother, the one who had brought the critters home in the first place, that they needed to find another home. He was doing yard work for a wealthy woman with a big house and she agreed to take our friends. I can remember Chris chasing them around the yard trying to corral them into a large, rubber trash can so he could deliver them to his employer, and the three youngest of us crying at the horrific loss. I only learned later on that the wealthy woman had a dinner party for six that week, and that Sebastian, Cornelius, Xavier, and the rest were on the menu.
To this day, I still love roosters. I used to love to see the fancy ones at the county fair. I can’t say as I’d be willing to pick one up, though, or let him ride with me on a bike or in a car. I think it’s because of that creepy red stuff on their heads and necks. And even though I gave it up when I became a Lutheran, I still love the name Sebastian.