Imprints - CF Literary and Arts Magazine

Imprints Colume 11 cover

Volume 11

Tender Splendor

If you are ever in Publix and happen to walk by the Deli, you may notice something called a chicken tender. They are slender, juicy slivers of double breaded, all white meat chicken breast. They are the best things sold in the kitchen. They are expensive, and many people succumb to their golden brown goodness. But be aware, if you try a chicken tender, it may just ruin your life. One bite can lure you into its addictive grasp; one drop of its salty juice, which flows from every crisp morsel, is enough to enslave your senses. I think, perhaps, that it's the nicotine we add. Even veteran Deli associates sometimes fall prey to the tender's enthralling allure. This is one such story.

One day I was in the kitchen frying delicious and savory chicken. I fried hot and spicy wings, followed by a copious mix of various chicken portions. Then, when that was finished, I began to fry the tenders. I grabbed a handful of the raw chilled meat slivers and I proceeded to thoroughly bread each one. As I dropped them one-by-one into the frying bin, the bubbling oil consumed them. As the aroma slinked its way into the air, people swarmed to the case like a pack of hungry jackals awaiting the kill. Not lacking in punctuality, I promptly delivered the enchanted meats into their awaiting case. The ravenous customers took all the tenders in sight.

As I went back to the fryer to make more, I noticed one tender left in the basket. One, lonely, tender. It wasn't just any ordinary piece, but it was the piece. The tender to end all tenders. It was large, articulated thick with a crunchy gold crust. It was so perfect that I could not bring myself to sell it to some random customer who would be unable to fully appreciate the tender. So I decided to get a second and third opinion on what its fate should be. I brought my two best friends in to see what they felt I should do. My friend Ron told me, "Josie! Give me the tender. I will not let it go to waste!"

My other friend Jason interrupted, "Wait! Why should he get the tender? I deserve it just as much as he does!" So, I decided to let them both have it. I intervened, "Ron you cut the tender. Jason you pick the half you would like." So Ron grabbed the tender as Jason grabbed the knife. As they approached each other, the rotisserie oven buzzed. This startled Jason, who then slipped on a fryer oil puddle, bumping into Ron. Attempting to maintain his control over the tender, Ron ended up fumbling it. When the tender hit the ground, an eerie silence filled the Deli air. After a few moments, the mayhem began.

Accusations of incompetence flew among them. Jason cried, "You idiot! You dropped the world's greatest tender! You Wookie lover!" Ron immediately retorted, "You bumped me, you ferret molester!" Jason, with growing anger, exclaimed "Well, I wouldn't have dropped it, butterfingers!" Ron, infuriated, refuted, "At least I wouldn't get startled by a rotisserie buzzer, like the little fairy that you are!"

At this point, I intervened. "Stop fighting, you guys are letting a tender ruin your friendship! This is crazy! The tender dropping was an accident, and no one was at fault." But what I said fell on deaf ears. The three amigos had now split, with me stuck in the middle in a vain attempt to keep peace between the two.

The tender had done more damage than I could have ever dreamed of. The tender had caused a permanent rift in their friendship. It was lost forever. So, the next time you stop by the Publix Deli, be wary of the tender. Once you try it, you may lose more than your ability to refrain from eating this expensive delicacy.

Tender Splendor

José Benitez