I've been dreading this moment where I'd actually have to do something big on The Hen to commemorate this anniversary. Thankfully 2020 happened, showing many more things to dread like a global pandemic, blatant racism, and that orange criminal still in the White House. Now that the pressure's off, let's get clucking!
Many of you have joined The Coop since I've been pecking around the Internet via social media and my website, giving you quality content since 2011. But did you know The Hen was born in a highly-regarded newspaper? Yes, The Cackling Hen was born in the critically-read University of South Florida St. Petersburg Crow's Nest! When I was promoted to a section editor of the newspaper in 2010, our editor-in-chief told me I'd have to contribute something to each publication besides brutal edits and poor jokes at staff meetings. But she also gave me the freedom that it could be anything, so I took full advantage and crafted my dream contribution: a satirical humor column that required no research and minimal effort since I was already funny. I just needed a name. Since I was always disruptive and cackling during staff meetings, my fellow Nest friend and editor Tara suggested "The Cackling Hen." On that sweltering Florida August Day, a Hen was born! I hope Lady Gaga plays me in the feature film. Sure, I wasn't clever enough to create my own name (or logo) and I was too lazy to contribute any research to our newspaper, but every word of every Hen article has been my own, and it was mildly tolerable on campus! I never looked back.
For an entire academic year, I pecked at campus issues that deserved a cluck and a cackle. From student government to Chick-fil-A, from budget mismanagement to Britney Spears, no one was safe from the pecking block. But out of every bi-weekly, bi-curious publication, our annual "spoof issue" for April Fool's Day created The Hen's biggest buzz. One student complained that valuable student funds were being wasted on Britney Spears to be the commencement speaker; I told her to research the definition of "spoof issue." Chick-fil-A also wanted to serve The Hen for dinner when I wrote that their Christian chicken was actually leftover rubber, but The Crow's Nest was too busy diffusing an insensitive article toward the LGBTQ community to entertain Chick's complaints. Whew!
After graduating from USF St. Petersburg in 2011, The Hen was no longer allowed to have free reign over The Crow's Nest. I bid farewell to my position and its lucrative $60/week. Riding my mild success with the newspaper, I was determined to continue and build on The Cackling Hen's momentum. Graduating with a master's degree was not going to ruin my career as a published columnist!
Thankfully, the Internet has allowed me to cluck on and grow a bigger following than Florida college students. Since 2011, this has been The Hen you adore and follow. Even a few of you still read this far into the articles! My posts, writing, and abilities may be sporadic and erratic, but I'm still here and I don't plan to fly away. Hens can't fly anyway.
For all of you who have read this far, thank you! I know most of my followers are Ukrainian bots, but for the handful of actual birds who read and interact, it's because of you all I still cluck away. Ten years is a long time! We've been through a lot. And we're still here: clucking, reading, and ignoring each other for months at a time. Maybe one day, I'll go viral again (not with COVID).
Did you know I actually did go viral in 2014? Stay tuned for Part II!
Fact Fact! Did you know my dream of being a humor columnist began when I was in high school? At that time, The Gazette in Colorado Springs had a wonderful humor columnist, Rich Tosches. His writing was always a sharp respite in that conservative city, typically jabbing at the incompetence of local government. He officially won me over when he poked at how aloof my snobby skating club was, and he also took time to speak to one of my high school classes. After scouring the Internet, I cannot find him on any social media. In the off chance that Rich ever stumbles upon my scrappy blog, thank you for inspiring a shy high school Hen in the dark ages, Rich!