Two items in the news caught my eye this week: poultry and pals.

First up is rotisserie chicken. I mean, what could be better? It’s inexpensive, tasty and relatively healthful—a win-win all the way around…and around, and around. Mary Ellen and I enjoy this for dinner about once a week. But we don’t rotisserize our own. We prefer the plump, herb-encrusted delights at Sam’s Club or Costco. At $4.95, it’s worth the drive.

We recently made the trip, and we were hoping to get in and out quickly, since all we wanted was the chicken. On the way to the back of the store, I picked up a new iPad. There was a good deal on printer ink. I also grabbed two cases of imported beer. We selected our chicken, and on the way up to the register, Mary Ellen stocked up on some chocolate truffles they were featuring…oh, and two bottles of her favorite wine. We tasted some yummy mini eggrolls a woman was offering as samples, and then we bought several boxes to freeze.

At the register, the clerk totaled our purchases. “Boy that chicken smells delish,” she said.

“I know,” I responded. “How can they possibly afford to sell an entire cooked chicken for only $4.95?”

“I don’t know. Okay, that will be $640.00. Enjoy your dinner.”

A few days later, I read in USA Today that the rotisserie chicken conglomerate (which sounds like a bad recipe for the leftovers) is coming under some heat. Consumer advocates are questioning whether a prepared bird from Costco or Sam’s Club is really worth the price on a per-pound basis.  Consumers Digest claims that the rotisserie chicken “looks cheap, but it’s really not, which can easily mislead people.”  I remember my father saying something like this to my sister when she started wearing makeup in the ninth grade.

When my wife read this, she started to buy fresh chickens out of the refrigerated case again. After she gets the birds home she gives them a very careful inspection, wiggling the wings and legs, then poking the breasts and finally sniffing them thoroughly. She was sure one particular chicken wasn’t any good. I told her neither of us could pass a test like that, either.

Also in the news this week, a well-respected journal reports people don’t know who their friends are. They analyzed friendship among 84 subjects by asking them to rank one another on a five-point continuum of closeness, from “I don’t know this person” to “One of my best friends.” Only about 50 percent of people found themselves on each other’s list. Apparently, people you think are your friends often don’t feel the same way.

This is just the kind of thing that fuels my insecurity. I called my friend, Garry to see how he’d respond to my question: “If you were asked to make a list of your top friends, would I be on it?”

“Well, I need a little more information. How long can the list be?”

Then I called John. “Hi, John, it’s Dick Wolfsie…”


I was desperate. I knew I could depend on Bob. “Hi, Bob. I have an important question to ask you. If you made a list of people you consider close friends, would I be on it?”

“I’m not taking you to the airport.  Have you tried that Uber App?”

Then, I thought about calling Mickey, but I didn’t. Let’s just say I chickened out.


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My wife is a planner. She doesn’t like surprises.

At Christmas, she is very specific about what she wants. So she tells me ahead of time what to buy. This is not to say that Mary Ellen is not a spontaneous person. Why, at the drop of a hat, my wife would jump into a cab (that she had arranged a week beforehand), then board a plane (if she had reservations two months ahead of time to get super-saver tickets) and head for some last-minute destination (more like 4,000 minutes, but minutes nonetheless).

Even the hotel would be a spur-of-the-moment decision, once she had researched every Internet site for the best possible deal in the solar system. Yes, that’s how impulsive she is. I can barely keep up with her.

But that being said, I was still taken aback by a question she posed to me recently on our way to a movie—a movie she chose after careful analysis of all the reviews, along with an online purchase of tickets.

“Dick, next year, do you want a surprise party for your 70th birthday?”

“Excuse me?”

“Well, before I waste a lot of time finding a place to have a party, rounding up a few of your friends, and spending a lot on food, I just want to be sure you really want a surprise party. Hypothetically, of course.”

“I know this is really narrow-minded and ungrateful of me, but isn’t a surprise party supposed to be…you know…what’s the word I’m looking for?”

“Well, how soon we forget. Do you remember what you said when I threw a surprise party for your 50th?”

“I seem to recall saying, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t have.’”

“That’s exactly right—and I’m not going to make that mistake again.”

“Okay, who would you invite to my surprise party? Once again, hypothetically.”

“Well, to make things easier for me, you could just jot down several names on a piece of paper. And include some folks you wouldn’t expect to come to your party. Maybe even a few people who aren’t really that crazy about you.  If I could convince them to come, that would really make the party a surprise.”

“Is there anything else I shouldn’t know?”

“Well, I don’t want you to know exactly where the party might be, so come up with three places where you wouldn’t expect people to jump out of nowhere, screaming ‘SURPRISE!’”

“Make it easy on yourself, Mary Ellen. Why not just have it at our house, and that way, when I come home from work, everyone can just be hiding in the kitchen.”

“Well, how clever is that?  They’d have to think you were pretty darn stupid to walk into your own home on the day of your 70th birthday with 15 cars parked on our cul de sac and not know something was going on.”

“Okay, then, let’s do it the day after my birthday.”

“Hey, that’s a super idea. I can’t wait. This is going to be an even bigger surprise than you thought.”

“Yes, Mary Ellen, this sounds like a fun party. Hypothetically, of course.”


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