would you like fries with that?

Last night my roommate and I indulged in a number of vices: cheese, cigarettes, beer. A couple of hours later, sitting on the balcony, I blurted out a tipsy confession:

I really want meat right now.

This statement may not be shocking, but it runs contrary to the more than third of my life I’ve spent as a vegetarian.

I try to dissect the craving — it’s salt, I decide. I just need salt.

We decide to run across the street and split a plate of chips. On our way, we’re accosted by a friendly Ugandan who offers us “special chicken.” We pass him by, get our chips, and head home. We meet him again.

“Hello, madame! Hello! You want special chicken?”

He’s very insistant, and we’re very…err…persuadable. “Might as well put all possible toxins in our body at once,” Roommate says. I shrug. What’s one piece of chicken? And what makes it so special? We rummage in our pockets for cash, and Roommate comes up with a dollar.

“Fine. I’ll give you one American dollar for one piece of special chicken.” We look at each other and giggle at the lengths to which a street vendor will go to make a late-night sale.

Rather than go back to his grill to make the chicken, though, this particular street vendor disappears into a little shack in the parking lot. He comes back chickenless, and we wonder if he’s going to demand money that’s actually worth something here.

Instead, he presses a small, white, cylindrical object into Roommate’s hand. “Special chicken,” he repeats in a whisper.

Oh holy mother of God.

Roommate and I stare at the joint — for that is what it is, unmistakably — in horrified amusement.

“Special chicken,” I say again.

“Special chicken,” Roommate agrees.

The vendor — dealer? — nods his head enthusiastically. “Special chicken!” he crows.

Indeed.