Chicken Butts are Forever

By Michael

We’re sitting on the tarmac in St Louis. It was supposed to be Chicago, but one of those summer storms that sweeps across the Midwest sent us into a holding pattern and then we ran out of fuel and, well, American doesn’t fly ultralights, so we stopped at the nearest filling station.

I scored an upgrade to first class, sitting across from a dad and his daughter who were up front while mom and the other daughter were in back. I think the girl back in steerage with her mom was unaware of how cheated she was by all of this; she probably doesn’t even resent her sister for this abuse. Yet.

But the plane is on the ground now, so the second daughter comes up for a visit with her sister and it took me back in time, because they sounded just like my girls.

Do you know what?

Chicken butt.

Stop saying that.

It’s funny.

No it’s not. I don’t want you to do that anymore.


You know what?

Chicken butt.

I told you ‘no.’

I know but it’s in my head.

How did chicken butt survive 20 years? Like Dracula or I Love Lucy reruns, it never sleeps, never disappears. Like that joke that goes, “So the policeman said, ‘Are you looking for trouble,” and Shut Up said. ‘How did you know?'”

Do these things go dormant for 37 years like the swine flu, only to rise up again with a vengeance to irritate moms and dads everywhere? Or maybe it’s the aunt who has all those cats in her house, the one who thinks she’s still hip and wants the kids to know she knows all the humor that kids know. Only the kids didn’t know it until she re-infected them.

Or maybe there’s some kind of passing of the torch within a secret society of children. Is the last kid to turn five instructed to turn to the newest four-year-old and pass on the humor of a thousand generations?

And it might be more than 1,000 generations. Biblical scholars report that Cain asked Abel, “Know ye whateth?” and Abel said, “Chicken butteth,” and it all went downhill from there.

Clearly, bad childhood humor has the survival skills of cockroaches and will outlive us all. As the girls were jabbering about chicken butts, I noticed the six-month-old boy in the first row. His mom was holding him, but he was paying just a bit too much attention to the conversation two rows back.

Michael Rosenbaum is 5 Minutes for Parenting’s first dadblogger. He is a business consultant, playwright and author of Your Name Here: Guide to Life.

Michael blogs on life issues at Your Name Here Guide to Life and manages the Adult Conversation discussion group on Linked-In.

14 Responses to Chicken Butts are Forever
  1. Stephanie
    June 22, 2010 | 9:10 am

    Oh sigh, it’s already starting making the rounds here, and I’m pretty sure I or my husband taught it to OUR kids LOL.


  2. Jeni
    June 22, 2010 | 10:06 am

    My mom taught me that! Except she’d say, “Chicken butt, five cents a cut.”

  3. Renee
    June 22, 2010 | 10:56 am

    My two year old just learned this joke from a nine and ten year old. I laughed when I heard her because I have not heard that since I was little. Remember how much fun it was to say it?

  4. edj
    June 22, 2010 | 1:03 pm

    I know!! I was amazed at how childhood humour sruvived to the current generation. And where will it end? Who knows?

  5. Kelly
    June 22, 2010 | 3:53 pm

    I will need to turn this off as soon as I leave the comment, lest the chicken butt virus infect our household as well. (I can’t believe we’ve managed to avoid it so far.)

    But this is stinkin’ hysterical.

    How about an older brother taking a younger sibling’s hand and smacking them with it, all the while saying, “Why are you hitting yourself? Huh? Huh? Why are you hitting yourself?”

  6. Michael
    June 22, 2010 | 5:05 pm

    If values were a bad joke, we’d have no problem passing passing them along and knowing our kids would remember them forever.

  7. Kim
    June 23, 2010 | 3:08 pm

    Kelly, I must too be 5 years old, as I enjoy grabbing my kids arms and ask “Why are you hitting yourself? Stop punching yourself!” My 3 year old thinks this is the funniest thing ever. And the magic of doing this to a 3 year old is that he thinks I’m the one that made it up! Wait till they go to school, my coolness will expire.
    Michael, please go to and look up the Family Guy episode about the survival of the dirty joke. It sounds strangly familiar to your theory about the passing along of the Chicken Butt.
    Guess What…
    Chicken Butt.

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