Football’s almost here, so chicken wings are in my future
- Updated: September 7, 2012
I didn’t grown up in wing country so to speak. While it’s true that Westchester County may surprisingly boast one of the money wing spots I’ve visited, the tasty little saucy poultry pieces were not really a part of my youth. No, it wasn’t until my college years in upstate New York where my wing awakening really began. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be wings. Sheet pizzas and wings. Subs and wings. Beer and wings. 10c. 25c. All-you-can-eat. Wings upon wings. So where is this all going? Well, this Sunday is a big day. The founder of this here blog turns a terrible-sounding 35 years old…and the Jets open the 2012 season. And, well, my wife asked me what I might want to chow down on during said afternoon Gang Green opener, and all I can think about is chicken wings. Did I mention I’m not even sure if I like them anymore?
Let’s take a trip down wing lane, because it may explain some things. As I mentioned, the chicken wing was a late addition to my culinary repertoire. But, once its was introduced, it became a seasonal staple of sorts. Between football and the fall, and summers in Southwestern New York (just outside the very mecca of wingdom in Buffalo), these finger-licking delicacies suddenly seemed to follow me everywhere. “Anyone want apps?” Let’s get an order of wings. “Dinner tonight?” Pizza and wings. “Late-night snack?” Daddy hungry, daddy want wingy.
But of all occasions, the college fraternity house Sunday afternoons were the most familiar breeding ground for wing consumption…or should I say…carnage. One of my favorite folks in the world (and former roommate) had a line that always led to a predictable and frightening outcome. We still use it today. It usually was uttered in one of our house’s larger rooms. A few young men would have gathered. Many would still be ostensibly sleep-walking. Some would have accomplished a morning task and perhaps even consumed a meal they call breakfast. Others might be drinking warm Milwaukee’s Best Ice or Genny Summer Brew (yes, such a thing exists) cans snatched from the bottom of a garbage bucket from the previous evening’s festivities. All were nursing varying stages of a hangover. As glossy eyes stared at James Brown or whomever blathering on during a pre-game show, the challenge typically came: “You won’t order a hundred wings right now.” Oh, I can hear it now.
I can’t describe it. You need to experience it. At that moment. The tone. The intonation. Part mocking. Part questioning your manhood. Part chiding. Subtly implying. You want those wings. You NEED those wings. Inevitably, a few would grumble. There would be some eye rolls and a few looks of dread. Of course, those pangs of doubt and uncertainty inevitably crumbled under an avalanche of peer pressure, not-so-hidden lust and, ultimately, a heaping tower of 100 butter and Frank’s-soaked hot wings…and maybe a few overly-doughy mass-produced pizzas, fountain sodas, Gatorades, a tin of dip or two…you get the picture.
How vividly and fondly I remember those days. Unfortunately, the image that is most burned in my head is that of the aftermath. Usually hours later. Congealed fat on plates. Piles upon piles of bones. Several wounded warriors with only a chunk of meat removed that were ultimately discarded during one last push of gluttony. Dozens of small blue cheese cups with their contents in various states of decomposition. Stained paper napkins strewn all over and various college-aged men in a chicken wing-induced coma nodding off during halftime of the 1 p.m. games.
That final scene is what still makes me hesitate on the wing thang to this day. That, plus an actual consciousness of my general health and all. Plus, there are times where the idea of breaking apart the joints of those slimy, little f-ers really just make me more sick than psyched. Still, a few high-quality wings have a special ability to hit that certain spot. Perhaps it’s my love of cold beer, and the fact that those chicken pieces drenched in their scrumptious sauce so delightfully pair with a red-white-and-blue that keeps me coming back.
So, Glenn, this Sunday I’ll think of you as another NFL season really kicks off. I’ll also probably have at least one idea and answer for my wife on what I might want to eat. I probably won’t eat 100 wings, but you can bet I’ll have a couple. I mean, what’s football without wings right?