The Chicken Game


My Dad has always been a playful guy. Growing up, my house was the “fun” house to hang out at with my friends. We always had the BEST snacks; sugar-filled treats like Fruit Roll-Ups and a never ending supply of little pizza bagels. I fondly remember the days of video game marathons and jumping on our trampoline until one of us barfed (from said pizza bagels). Though on occasion… something would happen that broke all bonds of brotherhood. With a shriek of “BRAWKK-AKK” and the sight of a rubber chicken smacking the wall and falling to the floor… we all knew the game had begun. The Chicken Game had commenced.

With one second to surveying the competition, the first on their feet had the best chance to strike it rich. Hidden in every room (except the one we’d been occupying) was cash money. Greenbacks. MOOLAH. Usually there were about twenty $1.00 bills and one $5.00 bill. That was the goal…you thought of all the stuff you could get with FIVE DOLLARS!? The rules were simple:

1. Every dollar is visible by the naked eye (you don’t have to move anything).
2. What you find, you keep.

It’s a savage game… every kid for himself. There are leaders and there are followers and The Chicken Game brings out these qualities in everyone. As it was my house, I knew all the spots where my Dad tended to hide the dollars. My friend Michael was a follower and he’d stick to me like glue with the hopes of snatching up my prey before I had the chance. I had a few friends who simply didn’t have the talent (or the will) to find more than a dollar or two and my Dad had a knack of giving out hints. He’d give you a general area to explore or give it away with his eyes by looking to see if a certain dollar had been found yet. The joy a kid feels when he finds $5.00 is indescribable when it’s you and heartbreaking when it’s your friend. Other than that first mad dash at the beginning of the game, my favorite part was when there were only a few more dollars to be found. My Dad would give vague coordinates to the locations and we’d all flock there in unison to see who could spot the money first! Picture a bunch of sweaty red-faced kids pushing and shoving all for a $1.00 bill.

I imagine The Chicken Game was just as much fun for my Dad as it was for us. If you ended up with $1.00 or even $8.00 (the record high)… you really felt like you earned it. The game lasted throughout my childhood and has subsisted into my adult life as well. I know that whenever I have a group of friends over at my parents’ house there is a chance it will happen. I equate The Chicken Game to the popular book series The Hunger Games. While we weren’t fighting to the death, the stakes of The Chicken Game felt just as high.

(photo courtesy of Karin59/

Smiles For All