Ham and Chicken were an odd pair. For example, Ham enjoyed teaching his theatre friends how to project their voice by breathing deeply through their diaphragms. He had quite a large belly and had become a master at making a Shakespearean sonnet or a line from Frasier boom across a crowded room. Chicken, on the other hand, preferred to keep to herself. She found special joy in getting to the coffee bar at work before her colleagues so she could use the testy Keurig in peace.
Ham and Chicken were in the unfortunate circumstance of composing the entire Human Resources Department of BitBarns Corporation. BitBarns was known for manufacturing tiny barns for economical and environmentally conscious Barnyard animals. The CEO of BitBarns, the big Mouse, felt the synergy of Ham and Chicken’s ying and yang would inspire harmony among the company. This was needed especially after the great Chick-fil-A fiasco that threatened to destroy inter-species communication in the accounting department.
This brings us to July 21st, a Friday. The animals were seated in the cafeteria, snacking on their seeds, kale chips and salted anchovies. Ham was sitting with the animals in sales, laughing raucously, recalling the company softball game a couple of weeks earlier when Ham hit a home run and moonwalked from base to base. Chicken was sitting alone at the end of the table, reading the biography of Barack Obama’s dog, Bo. Chicken heard the topic on the other end of the table shift to the company karaoke event happening that night.
“Ham, what’ve you got planned? Something epic I’m assuming,” mused Baah Sheep.
“Yeah tell us,” probed Baah’s younger brother, Baaah Sheep.
“Naw, I’m just going to see what speaks to me tonight, you know,” Ham replied modestly.
In fact, Ham had been planning his karaoke performance for weeks. He was going to perform ‘Fancy’ by Iggy Azalea and Charlie XCX. This song had all the makings of a memorable karaoke moment. It was a pop song that the ladies could get into, he would crack people up with his gender bending, and he would blow the crowd away with his rap skills. Unfortunately, one of the few talents Ham lacked was the ability to keep on key, so he’d have his best friend Moo Cow sing the Charlie XCX portion. He had memorized every lyric of this song. He wouldn’t even have to glance at the screen. He’d pander to the crowd and they would EAT IT UP.
Rooster, who was sitting with the sales group spoke across the table to Chicken, “Chicken, are you coming tonight?”
Chicken froze. Was Rooster speaking directly to her?
It was undeniable to any animal at BitBarns that Rooster was the most attractive employee in the coop. His combination of deep red, vibrant orange and jewel blue feathers gleamed in the sun, his crown was always perfectly quaffed, and his stout chest was built like SuperMan’s. That Rooster could wake all of New York City, or at least Newark, with his morning cock-a-doodle-doo’s.
Chicken responded shyly, “Oh I don’t think so, karaoke’s not really my thing”.
Baah Sheep yelled, “What are you talking about?! We used to sing in the state choir together, Chicken was the best!”
“The Best!” parroted Baaah Sheep.
“Well yeah but I wouldn’t say karaoke and Gospel are the same thing,” responded Chicken.
Ham chimed in, “I actually agree with Chicken, Karaoke’s bold and uninhibited and-”
“You gotta come Chicken! It won’t be the same with out you!” said Rooster.
Chicken’s heart was pounding. Maybe Rooster had been harboring feels for her this whole time and she was just too humble to think he would ever be attracted to a plain old chicken. “Um, well, okay then. I’ll be there.”
“Great! We’ll see you tonight,” said Rooster.
Chicken giggled and let out a little “backaw”. She was so mortified, she wrapped up the rest of her unfinished anchovies, threw them in the garbage, and quickly waddled back to her desk.
When karaoke was underway, Ham started to fret. Moo Cow was no where to be seen and he had already put ‘Fancy’ in the line up. The Sheep brothers were currently doing a duet of Journey’s “Faithfully,” which was a weird choice for two brothers and made everyone in the room slightly uncomfortable. Ham frantically texted Moo Cow.
“Where are you man? Are you coming?”
“Sorry bro, I was eating this amazing sandwich from that place ‘Grazers’ on 13th and well, I just forgot. And then I remembered but I was tired so I took a nap and then I rolled out of my bed and landed on my knee cap and dude it’s broken. I’m at the emergency vet now. Don’t think I’ll make it.”
Ham was fuming.
“Sorry to hear that, feel better soon.” Also you’re an idiot and I will forever harbor a tiny amount of resentment towards you.
Ham looked around the room for the decent singers who could take Moo Cow’s place. There were the Sheep but they had already dampened the mood with their insistence on only singing 80’s ballads. There was also Chicken. He looked her up and down. She was sitting next to Rooster, quietly sipping on a Moscow Mule. “Maybe… But naw, she’s such a stick in the mud. She may have the voice, but she probably won’t be able to match my stage presence,” Ham thought.
“Ham you’re up!” yelled Fluffy Alpaca from the Design team.
Ham took the mike and prepped the crowd. “Are y’all ready for some Piggy Azalea?” His co-workers hooted and hollered.
*Boom, boom, boom, ba, ba, boom boom boom*
Ham started to rap. He was fierce, he was fire, he grabbed a pair of sunglasses off a table and threw them on while he dropped his sick beats until….the rapping ended and the singing began. Ham froze for a millisecond and then started to sing “I’m so fancyyyy”. His voice screeched. He sounded like he had been punched in the piglets. The room broke out into uncontrollable laughter. Even Chicken giggled. Panicking, Ham started to cough.
“Ugh sorry guys, *cough cough cough* something in my throat. I should probably just, here,” he shoved the mike into Chicken’s wing. “I’m gonna *cough cough* get some water.”
Everyone looked at Chicken. “Okay, I guess I’ll go,” she said. She figured she’d do a song she knew and performed once in choir. It was “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen which you have likely heard if you have watched any season of any singing competition ever.
The room was still noisy, recovering from the hilarity of Ham’s singing voice when Chicken began, “I heard there was a secret chord, that David played, and it pleased the Lord,” she sang, and the noise of the room instantly fell away. Everyone was listening. She sang, she breathed in the air of the room and expelled it in perfect notes that skipped from ear to ear. By the end of the song, Fluffy Alpaca had tears running down her fleece. The Sheep brothers both had their jaws hanging open. Everyone burst into applause. Chicken smiled and gave an excited little shimmy and sat back down next to Rooster.
“That was incredible! You’re amazing!” said Rooster.
“Well thanks,” she responded coyly.
“Flufster, you alright over there?” asked Rooster to Fluffy Alpaca.
“Oh yeah, yeah that song just reminds me of my dad.”
“Oh my gosh!” Rooster replied. He got up and sat next to Fluffy, wiping a tear off her face and whispering things into her ear that made her giggle. Chicken’s heart dropped to the pit of her stomach.
The night dragged on and on as everyone in the room got drunker and sleepier. Rooster left with Fluffy Alpaca. Chicken was thanking God the night was over and she could go home to her book when she noticed Ham asleep on a bench. “Shit,” she thought. No one is going to want to deal with this and she is in HR so she should really make sure he gets home okay. She shook him awake.
“Leave me heeere, I’m tired and my tummy hurts and I wanna go home but I don’t wanna move,” he mumbled pathetically.
“Come on, I’ll help”.
Chicken got Ham on his feet and they made the walk/drunken hobble back to his barn.
“Did you know I was born in L.A.?” said Ham.
“I did, you’ve told me.”
“Well I was. And I would probably be famous right now if my parents hadn’t moved us to stupid Oregon with its stupid trees and its stupid artisans and its stupid obsession with unicorn decor. They’re note even real, Oregon, THEY’RE NOT EVEN REAL.”
“You smell like tuna, Chicken. Not that that’s like a bad thing, tuna’s delicious, like it’s good. I’m not saying it’s a bad smell, but I just thought you should know that that’s what you smell like.”
After what felt like centuries, Chicken left Ham to pass out in his hay bed and Chicken made it home to her coop. She fell asleep reading a book which, thankfully, was devoid of rooster bastards and drunken pigs.