Iowa Writes

RON SANDVIK
from "Cold Chicken"


I lay under a blanket on the sofa, awash in the flickering blue light of the television. It was 3 A.M. and the station the set was tuned into had changed from interesting crime documentaries with reenactments and interviews to manic infomercial bombardments. For people like me, occasional tourists in the world of sleeplessness this sense of petty adventure was the payoff. "So this is what people are watching at this hour of the night, Ah-Ha." My wife and children lay in their beds upstairs, exhausted from a long day of burning brush at my parent's acreage. We had chainsawed trees, downed in a recent thunderstorm, into manageable chunks and toted the debris onto a sprawling brush pile to be torched next winter. We worked as a family until our muscles ached and I was tired beyond the ability to sleep. Maybe the big hook of this infomercial was that it featured chicken so prominently.

Ron Popeil, the Salesman of the Century, the man who brought this nation products like the Dial-O-Matic, the Veg-O-Matic, the Mince-O-Matic, the Chop-O-Matic, The Smokeless Ashtray, the CleanAire Machine, Mr. Microphone, the Trimcomb, the Miracle Brush, the Hula Hoe, GLH (instant spray hair), and the Pocket Fisherman was comfortable working the rotisserie beat. The household legend would look at his co-host and then the audience with the kindness of a pastor at a children's sermon and sing out the catchword of rotisserie living: Just set it and forget it!

I lay under a blanket on the sofa, awash in the flickering blue light of the television. It was 3 A.M. and the station the set was tuned into had changed from interesting crime documentaries with reenactments and interviews to manic infomercial bombardments. For people like me, occasional tourists in the world of sleeplessness this sense of petty adventure was the payoff. "So this is what people are watching at this hour of the night, Ah-Ha." My wife and children lay in their beds upstairs, exhausted from a long day of burning brush at my parent's acreage. We had chainsawed trees, downed in a recent thunderstorm, into manageable chunks and toted the debris onto a sprawling brush pile to be torched next winter. We worked as a family until our muscles ached and I was tired beyond the ability to sleep. Maybe the big hook of this infomercial was that it featured chicken so prominently.

Ron Popeil, the Salesman of the Century, the man who brought this nation products like the Dial-O-Matic, the Veg-O-Matic, the Mince-O-Matic, the Chop-O-Matic, The Smokeless Ashtray, the CleanAire Machine, Mr. Microphone, the Trimcomb, the Miracle Brush, the Hula Hoe, GLH (instant spray hair), and the Pocket Fisherman was comfortable working the rotisserie beat. The household legend would look at his co-host and then the audience with the kindness of a pastor at a children's sermon and sing out the catchword of rotisserie living: Just set it and forget it!

Advantages, economies, and new ideas were piled one atop another in a steady rhetorical drumbeat while my optic nerve loaded the beautiful people, their words, and all that they promised into my brain. These sirens of convenience sang from, cooked in, and pitched from a large, homey, well-appointed kitchen. It was a sanctuary, an altar, to domestic harmony. However, something was wrong. I know a lot more about my local television programming and the Showtime Rotisserie than I do about my community, county, or the planet.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


RON SANDVIK

Ron Sandvik was born and raised in Cedar Falls. He believes one of the great powers of Iowa, of the prairie, is how it continually seduces its residents through the gestural force and delicate shadings of each season.

"Cold Chicken" can be found in Notes From The Flyover (NAR Press, 2006), a festschrift celebrating the life and work of University of Northern Iowa Professor Emerita Barbara Lounsberry. Dr. Lounsberry is a noted educator, writer, and scholar. One of her many interests is Midwestern life. Notes From The Flyover is available from North American Review Press.

Contact The North American Review Press

This page was first displayed
on May 12, 2007

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