Those are not chicken.

Madame X is one of those people who took me under her wing when Johnny Rotten deployed. I firmly believe that everyone should have a friend like that, especially if one lives far from wherever ‘home’ is and one has found herself completely alone in her brave new world.

The Portrait of Madame X.

Seriously, y’all.  She is  a hell of a person and one of the nicest folks I’ve met. She also tended to put me in situations that were, to put it in the kindest possible way, “learning experiences”. Whether that is included in being a hell of a person or is the exception to that statement is up to you to decide.

This is the tale of one of those learning experiences.

Madame X and I were on our way to a party out in the country. She was actually invited, and I was her plus-one, not that anyone had actually allowed for plus-ones. I had been raised to be a polite person– though I often fail at that, as anyone know knows me in real life can attest– and I was a bit concerned about showing up without an invitation. Whatever, she assured me that it was fine.

When I say this was out in the country, I mean it was way, way waaaaaaaaaaaay out there. We drove towards nowhere, and about 20 minutes past when I thought we would have reached the end of the earth, we finally arrived.

No, we were not ‘there yet”. I may have repeatedly been told to stop asking.

Madame X introduced me around. Everyone was very nice, especially when they heard that my husband was overseas. If there’s one thing I have learned about Oklahomans, they take supporting their troops very, very seriously. I felt awesome. The kids were playing, I was chatting to strangers, and someone– probably Madame X, come to think of it– had put an ice cold beer in my hand. I was definitely the ‘new person’, an outsider, and the subject of much curiosity, but everything was going smashingly well.

If you like me and want no misfortune for me, perhaps you’d better stop reading here. You can close out this story, secure in the knowledge that I did not make an ass of myself and everything was good, if a little boring.  If, however, you like me but like schadenfreude just a little bit more, keep reading.
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Still here? Sadist. Okay, on we go.

So everything was going smashingly well, as I was saying.  Madame X had realized that I was doing A-OK without her having to run interference, and she was off talking to her friends. I heard my name called from over by the food prep area, and went over to see what was going on.

I could feel everyone’s eyes on me. I’m not sure if I imagined it or not, but it seemed a hush came over the partygoers.  I looked around, but could see nothing that would cause this.  The very large man in overalls that had called me over was grinning at me, and suddenly, I had a very, very bad feeling that I was about to have yet another ‘learning experience’.

He asked if I knew what calf fries were. I most certainly did: deep fried bovine testicles. Bull-balls, if you will. They are sliced thinly, then dredged-or-something, then battered-or-breaded-or-something, then fried. They don’t just fry the whole thing, because that would be ridiculous, you know? Madame X had told me about them on the way there, and had made a point of telling me that I absolutely was under no obligation to try them if I didn’t want to.

It looked like that “no obligation” thing was about to change.  The large grinning man asked if I wanted one, and without waiting for a reply, pulled a piece of bovine testicle out of his overalls pocket and handed it to me.

I looked over at Madame X, who had the most horrified look I’ve ever seen on her face. I don’t think she’s a praying type, but I think she was praying really hard right then. Had she been closer, I’m sure she would told the guy to knock it off, but she was far enough away that all she could do was watch. I had to deal with this all by my lonesome, with a very curious audience just waiting to see what this city girl would do. It was like I had showed up at an Old West themed dinner theater production, and I was the surprise star.

I realized, as I looked at the castration byproduct that was still warm from large-man body heat and a bit linty from his pocket, that the fried-‘nad was cooling. As unappetizing as I felt it was while hot, cold would be much, much worse.

For illustrative purposes only. This is probably not the previous owner of the deep fried huevos de toro.

There is only one possible solution to a situation like this. It wasn’t a  snack, it was a test. It was a game of chicken, with something that tasted like chicken but totally was not chicken.  I had no choices. I had to eat the calf testicle or be shunned as a stick-in-the-ass city person who is too good for calf testicles. Worse, Madame X would be shunned too just for knowing me, and both of us would be subject to “Bless her heart, but…” behind our backs. I popped it in my mouth, chewed twice, swallowed and thanked OverallMan.

I made the right choice. The audience seemed satisfied and went back to their drinks and small talk, though a few of the ladies looked a little disappointed that there were no histronics.

Madame X was impressed, and honestly, I think thats when we went from friendly acquaintances to actual friends. Maybe that should be the test of any friendship: would your potential friend eat a linty chunk of bullball from a strangers pocket, just to make sure you aren’t shunned by your peers for knowing her? I’m proud of myself, because yes, I am that kind of friend.

I would probably do it for you too, because in all honesty, calf fries are actually kind of tasty. Next time, I might even try them without the lint.

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