Patsy Porco

Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page

I’m Going to Kill a Mockingbird

In Humor on August 26, 2011 at 3:45 pm

When we were in our twenties, I remember that my sister–let’s call her Monica–would be amazed when her friend Lisa knew things that she didn’t know. They weren’t earth-shattering things, just stuff like spray starch comes from vegetables or dogs are descended from wolves. Anyway, when she would ask Lisa how she knew whatever it was she knew, Lisa would always say, “It’s common knowledge.” This bugged Monica no end.

Monica might have missed out on the common knowledge gene but I was absent the day they assigned our places on the learning curve. I probably didn’t understand the concept and got out of line. Anyway, I got put on the lowest, or the highest, end; it all depends on whether being a slow learner means you have a high or low learning curve. I haven’t figured that out yet. Suffice it to say that things that are obvious to others aren’t to me. For instance, there’s this bird–or a flock of them for all I know–that lives right outside our upstairs hallway window. We’ve lived in our current house for more than five years, and it took me until today to realize why, during the summer months, I always think the phone is ringing in the morning when it isn’t. I can’t count the number of times I’ve stood by the open window and heard the phone ringing in my bedroom. Yet everytime I picked up the phone, all I heard was a dial tone.

Today I realized why nobody is ever on the other end of the telephone line–the phone isn’t ringing. It’s the bird that is ringing–or perfectly imitating our telephone’s ringtone. I had to hand it to the bird; he or she had the sound down pat. I wondered what kind of bird it was. It occurred to me that a good name for the bird would be mockingbird; it was too bad that that name was already taken. Unless. And here’s where the learning curve thing comes in. Maybe, I thought, the bird actually was a mockingbird. Maybe mockingbirds were so named because of their mimicry. A quick search on Wikipedia confirmed my suspicion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mockingbird

I was floored. I always thought that mockingbirds got their name because they were nasty and made fun of other birds. That isn’t as far-fetched as you may think. Animals can be evil just like humans. When we lived at our former house, we had vindictive squirrels. They would sit in the tree outside our house and toss hickory nuts at my husband’s head while he raked leaves. It got so bad that he had to wear our son’s bicycle helmet whenever he raked. So it didn’t seem unlikely that mockingbirds would mock any bird who wasn’t in their cool-bird flock. It turns out, though, that they mock or mimic the songs of other birds, and the sounds of insects, amphibians and telephones. The Wikipedia entry didn’t actually mention telephones, but that’s probably because it’s common knowledge.

I wonder why they don’t also mimic mammals, like people and pets. Maybe they do. Our dog seems to bark more than usual in the summer when the windows are open. Whenever I scold him, he looks at me quizzically. Maybe it’s actually a bird that is barking. What a thought. There’s another bird that wolf-whistles at me every morning and it never fails to lift my spirits. Now I’m thinking that maybe the wolf-whistling bird is a mockingbird who is imitating a construction worker. Who knows? Maybe someone higher, or lower, on the learning curve could tell me. I’m so confused. There’s only one thing I know for sure: starting today, I’m keeping the upstairs hallway window closed.

 

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Saints and Sandals

In Uncategorized on August 2, 2011 at 10:19 am

As with most problems, this one started with shoes. In this case, it was the most wonderful pair of sandals I’ve ever seen. And they were on the clearance rack for $20. And they were in my size. Being a mostly religious person, I pretty much suspect that there are people up there who are looking out for me in general. But I know in my Pilates-free core that a woman is looking after me when it comes to foot apparel. She never fails me. If I had been asked to imagine the most wonderful flat summer sandals in the world, I would have conjured up the very ones that were on the sale rack. The guy up there in charge of my lottery tickets needs to take lessons from my shoe muse.  Anyway, without hesitation, I scooped them up and experienced a rush of victory felt only by Olympic gold-medal winners and the Coney Island hot-dog-eating champion.

I placed my treasure into the seat of my shopping cart and parked it three feet away so that  I could check to see if my muse had any more surprises for me in the shoe department. She didn’t, but that was fine since she had far surpassed my expectations. Now, at this point, you all know what happened. I turned to my cart and the sandals were gone.

Because I am nothing if not hasty, I immediately started in on the first of the five stages of grief. (Just so we’re all on the same page, the stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance: http://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/.) I actually progressed through the first two stages simultaneously. “My sandals are NOT missing!” I screamed internally, following up with, “Somebody stole them and I am going to kill her.” Sexistly, I assumed that a woman was the culprit, but anyone of any gender could well have been overcome by desire for them.

Bargaining is the third phase and I am pleased to report that I did not make any promises to God that I had no intention of keeping. I did, however, call on St. Anthony to find my lost shoes, even though I was certain that they weren’t so much lost as they were to be found in someone else’s cart. I double-checked the rack to make sure my shoes weren’t put back and then–I’m not proud of this–I decided it was the perfect time for some vigilante justice.

Up and down every aisle I went, peering into carts and even going so far as to lift some items in one woman’s basket in order to see what was underneath. Let’s just say that that didn’t go well. You generally don’t hear a lot of screaming and cursing in Marshalls. I backed away and continued on my mission. Once I reached the other side of the store, I started my search over, just in case the sandal snatcher had eluded me the first time. I had no luck, so I went to the register and asked the women behind it to keep a lookout for a pair of flat, bejeweled sandals that were in my cart and had disappeared. I magnanimously suggested that perhaps someone had  taken my cart by accident and that she would discover unwanted sandals in her cart when she checked out. I asked the saleswomen to hold them for me if this were the case.  Due, no doubt, to a language barrier, they just stared at me.

I then moved quickly through the fourth phase, depression, because I’m medicated for that. The last phase is acceptance and I zoomed right through that, too. I knew if those sandals were still in the store, St. Anthony would uncover them. If they weren’t, I’d have to revisit the last stage. In the meantime I concentrated on following people around and shopping out of their baskets when they were distracted. No, I didn’t really, but I was tempted. And, if former President Jimmy Carter is right and lusting in your heart is the same as committing adultery, then maybe I did steal things, but nobody noticed.

Once I had given up the hunt, I  decided that I needed therapy. Since I was already in the store, I opted for retail therapy. This time, I vowed to never let go of my cart. During the course of my treatment, I once again passed the clearance shoe rack. I was totally unsurprised to see my sandals innocently sitting there. Non-Catholics are really missing out when it comes to St. Anthony. If anything is there to be found, he will find it if you ask nicely and always remember to say thank you. This time, he played with me a little before offering up my holy grail. I saw the sandals with the size 9 sticker on them. I tried them on and they didn’t fit. I then realized that they weren’t a size 9 but a size 6. Disappointed, I put them down and re-scanned the rack. One other identical pair sat there. The sticker said size 9 and this time they really were a size 9. You have to love a saint with a sense of humor.

 

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