Just ‘wing’ it

Joe-Pisani-did-I-say-thatI recently saw a heartbreaking story out of China, home of the Great Wall and the egg roll, that has major implications for all of us who were ever dumped by someone we loved or someone we thought loved us, even if it was only for our money.

A young woman named Tan Shen from Chengdu broke up with her boyfriend, and she was so upset she spent the week at KFC eating chicken wings, night and day. Apparently she needed to take stock of her life, and the wings provided the inspiration, although her cholesterol probably took a beating.

“I hadn’t planned on staying there long. I just wanted some chicken wings,” Tan said in a Yahoo story. “But once I got in there and started eating, I decided I needed time to think. I didn’t want to go back to my apartment because it was full of memories of him. So I stayed.”

After the week, she said, she was “getting sick of the taste of chicken,” so she took decisive action, quit her job and caught the train to her parents’ home. Let’s hope the story has a happy ending for her and Colonel Sanders.

Now we all need a place to go when we’re down and out, but I’ve never tried to find it at my local KFC, even though I’m a fan of chicken wings (no barbecue sauce, please).

You have to admit the chicken wings therapy is certainly safer than medication, not to mention cheaper. In addition, you get to spend quality time with fast-food workers, who are under-appreciated in America and who know more about day-to-day struggles than your average corporate executive or politician.

Right now, there’s a big debate about paying fast-food workers more. I think the staff of KFC in Chengdu should be role models for the industry and get surprise raises for the compassion and customer service they showed Tan.

Her story reminded me of the night I spent at White Castle in the Bronx after breaking up with my girlfriend. The next day, I felt like I needed to have my stomach pumped out because I ate so many sliders, and the taste of onions kept repeating on me for days. (I should have gone for the wings.)

Back in those days, “KFC” was known as Kentucky Fried Chicken and Colonel Sanders was a grandfatherly kind of guy you’d want to share your problems with over a bucket of deep-fried chicken parts.

Love problems seem to encourage compulsive behavior. When I got dumped in high school, I played a 45 rpm of Positively Fourth Street by Bob Dylan for so long that the song was so embedded in my brain that I couldn’t sleep. You’ve heard the line, “You’ve got a lot of nerve to say you are my friend; when I was down, you just stood there eating chicken wings.”

Over the years, I was dumped a few times, so I understand the pain of rejection and I have sympathy for Tan. I just hope she found the answers she needed and that she meets a guy who loves her and shares her love for chicken.

Very often, young people don’t realize that the pain of heartbreak passes, although it feels like the worst agony imaginable. Your pride is wounded. The fear of loneliness haunts you. You think your life is over. Many young people become angry, violent and even suicidal.

Looking back, I understand that all those torturous experiences made me stronger, even though it was hard on my ego and my heart. At the time, I never really knew what was in my best interests. However, I recognize now that everything works out for the best — and my life would have been miserable with any of the girls who dumped me.

As for Tan, if I could speak Chinese, I’d tell her, “This, too, shall pass. Everything happens for a reason. The guy was probably a dirtbag. And most importantly, go easy on the fried food.”

Joe Pisani may be reached at [email protected]

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