Thursday, 16 March 2017


Chicken Wings and Negotiations

Chicken wings have come a long way, from disposable offal to a loss leader or even a main attraction. Unless the birds have been given some dubious and weird Russian hormonal steroid, chicken wings aren’t awfully meaty; they’re essentially delivery systems for the flavours of their various sauces and coatings, stuff that gets under your fingernails.

In Vancouver once Ann and I killed time in a shabby sports bar which proclaimed itself famous for its wings. There were so many varieties listed on the laminated menu that there was no space for descriptions under the cutesy names. I asked our bartender what Hail Caesar! tasted like. Caesar Salad? A Bloody Caesar? She didn’t know; she didn’t care; we were fortunate she’d shown up for her shift. She was no a shill for a fantastic franchise opportunity even though those terrific and exciting details had somehow been squeezed onto the menu.

Wings are often served with strings attached. Years ago when I still lived in Calgary I frequently hooked up with my friends Rene and Kevin. We had worked together for a time and the three of us were still in the advertising business. One particular evening we convened at the James Joyce pub in the Mission District which abuts the Elbow River. It was wing night, our server informed us. Two bits apiece provided patrons ordered a minimum of a dozen.

Kevin looked at the waitress for a moment and then said, ‘We’ll have a dozen wings, please. But since we’re getting separate bills, could you charge us each a dollar as we’ll eat four each.’

Rene stared up at the ceiling smirking. I fiddled with my beer mat.

Our server replied, ‘I can’t do that.’

Kevin said, ‘But they’re twenty-five cents each.’

‘But you have to order a dozen. That’s how I enter them into the system.’

‘Then why don’t you advertise them at $3 a dozen?’

‘Because they’re twenty-five cents each.’

‘Okay. Since the three of us are splitting the order, do we have to get all the same flavour or can we get four each of three different flavours?’

Our server’s head exploded. We laughed and ordered another round. And she came around once it dawned on her that Kevin had just been giving her a hard time.

I was reminded of that exchange Tuesday night. Stats Guy and I drove beyond the darkness on the edge of town to meet our bedroom community friends Roy and Dave at The Sawmill in Stony Plain. The distant venue for the Tuesday Night Beer Club was Dave’s idea. It was wing night; they were to be had for just $4.95 a pound.

As our evening was wrapping up Roy ordered an additional pound of wings to take home to his wife Connie. Our waitress was gracious enough to inform him that the $4.95 wing special was eat in only and that if he wanted a pound of them to go she would have to charge him full price, $11.95.

Roy said, ‘Oh, never mind then.’

For the most part, you can understand limits and restrictions in restaurants and lounges because conniving gluttons waddle among us. I asked her, ‘What if we ordered those same wings for the table and then asked for a doggie bag?’

She said no. She then considered the absurdity for a moment (and likely how much money we’d already spent and her tip) and added, ‘I can do that, but you’ll have to eat at least one.’

I glanced at Roy. He said, ‘That’ll work.’ It wasn’t as if Connie was going to weigh them.

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