Patsy Porco

Posts Tagged ‘sister’

What Should I Do?

In Ethics, Humor, Poll on September 11, 2013 at 11:12 pm

mini water pistols from Veronica September 2013The other day, I was talking to one of my sisters about an argument I was involved in at a recent family gathering.

I told her that I had totally lost my cool when a relative said something that I disagreed with. The result was a very loud yelling match.

This doesn’t happen often with me, and not in years. I usually suppress my anger and then vent all over my husband when we get home.

Lately, I’ve been venting all over whomever is annoying me.

My sister said that this was not acceptable behavior, unless it was happening because I’m getting older.

“You know how some older people have no filters?” she asked. “They say whatever comes into their heads no matter whom they offend. Maybe that’s happening to you.”

“I’m 53 years old,” I answered. “I’m not even eligible to apply for that license for another 27 years.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” she said. “Well, I think you’d better find another way to deal with your temper. Why don’t you buy a mini water pistol and keep it in your purse? Then, when someone makes you angry, you can just whip it out and squirt him or her with water.”

“I imagine that would make the situation even worse,” I said.

“Nah,” she replied. “Do it when nobody’s looking and then deny any knowledge of what happened.”

“Yeah, that’s a great plan,” I said.

“How many handbags do you own?” she asked.

“Four everyday ones and three evening bags,” I said. “Why?”

“I think that you should get one for every bag you have, just so that you’re always prepared,” she answered.

After a good laugh, we moved on to other topics.

Two days later, I received a package. Inside the box were 12 colorful mini water pistols.

My husband asked what I was going to do with a dozen water pistols. I told him my sister’s idea. He shook his head and walked away, never suspecting that I might actually take her suggestion seriously.

I am now faced with an ethical question … would it be wrong …

… to buy five more handbags to accommodate the five extra water pistols?

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Me, Myself and I

In Humor, Religion on August 23, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Busy, self-important people often say, “If I want something done right, I have to do it myself.” This belief, in turn, keeps them even more busy — which is why they also say, “There aren’t enough hours in the day.”

The answer to their plight might, at first, appear to be cloning. Or, that thing that Hermione did in one of the Harry Potter books. She cast a spell on herself which allowed her to be in two places at once. It didn’t work out that well for her, however. She got confused, and more importantly, she confused the hell out of her friends.

What is my point, you ask? My point is that those people with their delusional opinions of themselves have three choices: they can either get over themselves, become hospitalized for exhaustion, or locate their alter egos and have them help out.

Not long ago, I discovered one of life’s truths. Since there is nothing new under the sun, this truth has, no doubt, been previously discovered. But it’s never come up in any conversations that I’ve had, so I’m taking credit.

At the time of my revelation, my sister and I were having a conversation about sunflowers. She said that they were her favorite flowers. I told her that they were mine, too. Then she said that she and I had a lot in common; we even have the same voice. (Years ago, a complete stranger who was walking ahead of her on a street in downtown Columbus, Ohio, heard her laugh. He turned around and asked if she was Patsy Bahner [my maiden name]. He had heard me on the radio, but he had never met me.)

As soon as my sister said that we had a lot in common, I automatically responded, “That’s because you’re a continuation of me. Just like I’m a continuation of Mom.”

We both pondered my declaration for a second, and then pronounced me brilliant. (Well, one of us did.) Then we drank more wine.

I’m naming my new belief Co-Creationism. Here’s how it works: we all have God-only-knows-how-many alter egos strolling the Earth. Some of our egos are becoming better souls, some of them are muddling along not accomplishing much spiritually, and some are on that proverbial Highway to Hell (see: Book of Proverbs). When our many souls eventually merge together for an appearance at The Great Reckoning, each of us will be hoping that the color of our final soul is on the whitish end of the white-black spectrum.

This new (to me) belief should appeal to forward-thinking trend setters. It won’t be long until Hollywood types start wearing (or “rocking” as they say) my Co-Creationism toe rings (color of rings to be determined).

All of this deep thinking has exhausted me. I think I’ll have one of my alter egos take a nap.

Lysol and Holy Water

In Humor on February 16, 2013 at 12:28 am

I know it’s not popular to believe in evil spirits, but I do. I just think it’s strange that, back in Jesus’ day, he and his apostles spent a good amount of time casting out evil spirits. Once the demon spirits were expelled, the cured people were good as new.

So, why would evil spirits just suddenly go away? In my opinion, they didn’t. They just went out of fashion. When society stopped believing in them, they didn’t close up shop. They were busier than ever but, once they became passé, they were able to operate under the radar, ignored and blameless. Now, when people were evil or acted crazy, they were labeled as “unstable”—instead of as “possessed.” I imagine that when the demons were given their free pass, they had a hell of a party.

This all relates, of course, to my recent outing on eBay. All winter long, I had been looking for a nice pair of black leather riding boots with a small stacked heel. Because I only shop at Marshalls and TJ Maxx—along with the rest of humanity—pickings were scarce. Either the heels were sky-high or the prices were, which was surprising considering where I was shopping.

By February, I still didn’t have a pair of black boots, so I decided to risk catching plantar warts and buy a gently used pair on eBay. I figured my chances of contracting warts were slim if I sprayed the inside of the boots with Lysol. Anyway, I found the boots I was looking for, won the bidding war, and paid considerably less (including shipping) than I would have at my usual hunting grounds. Once I paid for them, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to take a look at handbags.

Four successful auctions later, I was the proud owner of one new evening bag and three previously owned leather purses.  I got excellent deals on the bags (including shipping); however, I still wasn’t shocked at my husband’s vehement (read “loud”) request that I “get off eBay right now.”

I always confess everything to my husband. Even if I plan in advance to go overboard with whatever I’m doing, I also know that I’m going to tell him what I did, to relieve my guilt. Knowing about my future confession keeps me in check. Kind of.

I told one of my sisters about my purchases and she said, “Ewwww. How can you wear boots, or carry a bag that was owned by someone else?”

“I’m going to wipe down the boots and bags with Lysol wipes and spray their insides with Lysol spray. They’ll be germ-free once I’m done,” I said.

“But they could have bad juju,” she said.

“Juju”? I asked.

“You know, evil spirits or bad auras, or something.”

“Huh,” I said. That was a new one. “Well then, once I clean them, I’ll sprinkle everything,  inside and out, with holy water.”

“That might work,” she said. “Hey!” she added, “I think you just invented the next generation of cleaners—ones that get rid of germs and bad juju.”

“Wow,” I said. “You might be right. But, we’ll need to find a new word for juju.”

“Why?” she asked. “Nobody believes in evil spirits, but juju is a commonly accepted thing.”

I can’t help but wonder what kind of people she hangs out with.

Idiot Lesson

In Humor on January 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm

My mother uses the term “idiot lesson,” when she’s referring to something ridiculous that happened to her or to someone she knows. The “idiot” in question could be anyone involved. Today, I was involved in my own idiot lesson, and the idiot was me.

My mother’s birthday is January 20th, two days from now. I realized this last night. Of course I hadn’t mailed a gift or card. This morning, at work, I made a homemade card on my computer. Then, on my lunch hour, I ran over to the Gap and found the perfect gift for her. That only took 20 minutes, so I headed over to the post office. When I got there, it was gone; the building which had housed it was gapingly empty. That was weird, because I had recently been to that branch, a mere seven or eight years ago.

As I returned to my car, a fur-coated woman walked toward me. My job is in an affluent town–not the town I live in–so I assumed that the well-groomed, be-furred woman lived there and knew where I could find a different post office branch. I asked her if there was another post office in town and she informed me, in a cultured English accent, that no, there was not. And, she added, it was a sad loss to the community when the branch I was standing in front of was closed.

(As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m a sucker for an English accent. If you were to tell me, in an upper-class English accent, that I was really a man and had been living a lie for 52 years, I would believe you. I don’t know why this is–why I admire English accents so much, not why I’ve been living as a woman when I’m actually a man. I know my awe is a genetic trait, though. Back when I discovered that I was pregnant, I enlisted my sister’s help in finding me an obstetrician. She made a few calls and told me who to choose. She said she picked this particular doctor because his nurse-receptionist had an English accent. I made an appointment.)

So, I headed over to a convenience store in my town, ten minutes away, that had a post office in the back. I sent the package via two-day mail and sighed in relief as the clerk affixed the postage to my package. My sigh was sucked back in when she told me that the package would definitely arrive by Tuesday. Tuesday, holy crap! But, it made sense, once I clicked on my brain. Two days from now was Sunday, a day the post office doesn’t deliver, and the next day was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday. If I had previously known these two facts, I wouldn’t have run all over two different towns during my allotted 60-minute break—a break that was rapidly becoming a no-minutes-left break. I could have just ordered flowers over the Internet and had them delivered on time, with no hassle for me. But, it was too late for remorse. I decided to cut my losses and get back to work on time.

I hopped onto the highway connector–which I never drive on–and almost missed the exit to the highway. Almost. I quickly checked the lane next to me, forgetting to also check my blind spot, and moved into the exit lane, almost causing an accident, judging by the angry horn blast from the car behind me. My heart jumped through my chest and landed in my lap. I gave an “I’m-sorry-I-cut-you-off-but-I’m-glad-you-didn’t-crash-into-me” wave to the driver behind me, reinserted my heart, and got off the highway onto a local road. As I approached my workplace, I passed a post office branch in a strip mall–exactly one block from the closed post office I had visited earlier. I could not believe that that English woman had led me astray, and into an almost-accident.

What an idiot lesson, to quote my mother, who will not be receiving her gift on her birthday. I guess I’d better order those flowers, after all. Bloody hell.

Thanksgiving Leftovers

In Humor on November 30, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Thanksgiving was eight days ago, so you might wonder if I really have any leftovers—unless you know that I made a complete Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday (five days ago). We spent the real Thanksgiving at our cousins’ house in Larchmont. They hosted a lovely dinner in their gracious home and I enjoyed every minute of it, especially the many minutes that I didn’t have to cook for 20 people. However, turkeys were cheap that week, and I do like having leftovers—read stuffing—so, on Sunday, I cooked a 19-pound turkey for our family of three. Therefore, I do actually still have leftovers.

That being said, this blog post is not about food at all. It’s going to be composed of a little of this, and a little of that—i.e., story ideas that I have been warehousing in my brain for future posts. Because none of the stories have enough material for an entire post, I’m tossing them all into a post-Thanksgiving word casserole in order to empty my brain of all of the bits and pieces, much like one does with leftovers in the fridge.

In the beginning of November, we took in some Hurricane Sandy refugees, so our house was a little more full than usual. Before you submit my name for a Good Samaritan award, I should point out that the refugees were all related to us. I don’t think it counts when you take in family members who have had the ocean meet the bay right in their living rooms. During a middle-of-the-night discussion on their first day in our house, my refugee brother suggested that I try cobbling my blog posts into a book, like Jenny Lawson did in Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir). He said that, while he hadn’t yet read her book, he had heard that it was very funny. And like me, Jenny had started out blogging (http://thebloggess.com/). He then decided to order the book for me. According to my refugee sister, he announced his intention right in front of me. Middle-of-the-night discussions accompanied by middle-of-the-night beverages can often leave memory blanks, which could explain why I had no idea who had sent me the book once it arrived. On the other hand, my refugee sister could be wrong about his telling me. It really doesn’t matter because my refugee brother won’t answer my questions about this. Maybe he wants to stop the argument, or perhaps he likes being mysterious.

Either way, I am so glad he bought it for me. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is hilarious. The other night, my husband asked me to get up at 4:30 a.m. and take him to the train station since his car was being repaired. Instead of rising early, I stayed up all night and read Jenny Lawson’s book. When he got up at 4 a.m., he found me laughing my head off, and snorting. He asked me to please keep it down because the neighbors were sleeping. I asked him how our neighbors could hear me through closed windows, and he said that my laughter was THAT loud.

I’m free with my laughter, but very little makes me snort. Once in a while, though, I’ll be thinking of something that happened and I will find myself laughing through my nose. The thing that I’m remembering doesn’t necessarily need to have been funny at the time. Oftentimes, what happened was actually quite disturbing or frightening while it happened, but over the course of time, the fear has been removed from my recollection, leaving only the absurd.

For instance, this past summer, my cousin, Joe*, and his wife, Mary*, took a trip from their Philadelphia suburb to Manhattan with their daughter, Celery*, to celebrate Celery’s 16th birthday. Joe and Mary asked me to come into the city and meet them on their last day there. Joe told me that he’d be at the corner of Spring and Broadway in SoHo. When I got to that corner, he and his family were nowhere to be found—and yes, I checked all four corners. I called his cell phone and he swore that he was on the southwest corner. I looked, and he was definitely not there, unless he had taken to wearing a turban since I had last seen him. He said that he was wearing a baseball cap. I asked him to check the street signs, and he said (rather impatiently, I might add) that he was on the southwest corner of Spring and West Broadway, just like he had said before. I imagine that I rolled my eyes at this out-of-towner’s naiveté. “Joe,” I said in a superior voice, “West Broadway runs parallel to Broadway. You are four or five blocks west of Broadway.” “That doesn’t make any sense,” Joe responded. This time, I know I rolled my eyes. “Stay where you are. I’ll be right there,” I said. After about five minutes, I met up with him and his family. “Where do you want to go?” I asked Mary and Celery. They named a bunch of stores on Broadway. So we all headed back to where I started out.

Joe had no interest in shopping, so I suggested that he and I visit the MLB Fan Cave which was a few blocks north of where his wife and daughter were shopping. Usually the Fan Cave doesn’t let people in. It’s a place for contestants to watch sports, hang out, and tweet to their followers. Tourists are able to watch the contestants through plate-glass windows. That day, however, tours were being given, so we walked through the sports-themed cave and watched the contestants watch television. Every MLB team had a fan who was competing in the MLB Fan Cave contest. (I never was able to figure out what kind of contest it was.) Joe sought out the Phillies fan and chatted him up. At the end of the tour, we were taken to the front door, next to which was a display of dirt from every Major League baseball field. As the tour guide spoke, Joe told me to take some dirt from the Phillies’ field. I asked if that was allowed and he said that he had just seen another guy do it, so he was sure it was fine. Thinking back, I should have realized that it was not fine because there were no containers to put the dirt in. We had to use his baseball hat. Then the security guard approached me, shaking his head. He put his hand out for the hat. Shooting daggers at Joe, I gave the guard the hat so that he could pour the dirt back into the display. The guard said that dirt was only given out to corporate sponsors or at special promotions. I looked over to see Joe looking away from me, and laughing through his nose.

After we got out of there, we met up with Mary and Celery, who were dying to see Chinatown, where they had heard that you could get really convincing knockoff designer bags. I told them that designers do not like having their bags duplicated and have been urging people not to buy counterfeit merchandise. (In my opinion, designers should instead be leaning on the police—who absolutely have to know about the counterfeiters’ operations.) Because of the pressure from designers, the counterfeiters have become cagey. I told Mary and Celery that the only way they were going to get to see the really convincing knockoffs was if an Asian woman approached them on the street and said, “You want bags?”

Mary, who really wanted to make her daughter’s birthday special, or spend a night in jail, said, “Let’s go!” So, we made our way to Chinatown. We looked into all of the kiosks and saw unbranded handbags, hats, watches, and novelties. Within moments, an Asian woman approached Mary and said, “Want to see some bags?” Mary looked at me to determine if this code was legitimate. I nodded yes, and off we went. Well, off Mary went. The woman and Mary tore down streets and alleyways at the speed of light. Celery, Joe, and I tried to keep up. Eventually we caught up with Mary who was standing in an open kiosk. The guide motioned toward the back of the shop. Mary didn’t hesitate to follow her. Celery and I held back. As Mary proceeded through an invisible door, I told Celery that we shouldn’t let her go in alone. Celery agreed, so we headed toward the door. Joe said he’d wait outside. One of the employees said that Joe had to accompany us, or leave. Joe left to get ice cream. So Celery and I went through the door behind Mary. The guide followed us in and shut the door. Then she got on a walkie-talkie and gave instructions to someone on the other side to lock the door. We heard a loud click.

“Mary, we’re locked in a soundproof room!” I cried. “We could be murdered, and nobody would ever know.”

“I have my cell. I’ll call for help if we need to,” she replied.

“I wouldn’t count on getting a signal in a soundproof room,” I said.

She didn’t answer because she was busy checking out the hundreds of “designer” bags hanging from hooks. They were the same bags that were on display to the public out front, but these bags had designer labels affixed to them. By this point, I was in a panic about spending my last days in a tiny room surrounded by knockoffs. I felt really badly for Celery, too. Not so much for Mary, who had gotten us into this situation. I knew that this was my punishment for ignoring the designers’ warnings about buying fake bags. Then the door opened, and I breathed a sigh of relief. A few more customers were ushered in. Then our guide got back on her walkie-talkie and had the door locked again. We had missed our chance to escape. It reminded me of the scene in The Twilight Saga: New Moon when unsuspecting tourists were lured into the Volturi’s castle with a promise of a tour, only to become the Volturi’s lunch. Celery and I shot alarmed looks at each other. Mary, who obviously had never read or seen New Moon, was thoroughly enjoying herself and was not at all concerned with our fate.

Then the door opened again. This time, Celery and I were determined to drag Mary outside to safety with us. But we didn’t get the chance because the very angry store owner came up to me and told me that we had to leave because my husband was waiting for us outside their seemingly empty store, which would attract attention from the police. I told the woman that my husband was at home watching the Yankees. Then I realized that it was Joe who was causing the problem. Mary looked at me and said, “Go out and tell him to leave.” So that was how she was going to play it: Joe was now my husband and if anyone had to leave, it was me, not her. I should have felt relief at the chance to leave, but I couldn’t, in good conscience, leave Celery and Mary in there. (Well, maybe Mary.) At this point, Celery pulled out her cell phone to call her father, proving my theory that you cannot get a signal in a soundproof room.

That was the final straw. Celery and I told Mary that it was time to go. She agreed, but didn’t hurry. She held up a few bags and asked Celery if she wanted any of them. Celery, who wanted nothing except to get out of there, said no. The angry proprietor whipped out her walkie-talkie and gave instructions to someone on the other side of the door. As soon as we heard the door unlock, she opened it and shoved us out. The other shoppers who were still inside the hidden room looked at us with pity. Personally, I pitied them. They’re probably still there.

We, on the other hand, enjoyed a delicious pizza at an outdoor café in Little Italy, where we were waited on by a wannabe mobster. He was obviously just playing a part; his gun definitely looked fake.

*Names changed except for Celery’s

From Hair to There, and Back

In Humor on October 9, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Me and Maggie Pollack, a sweet one-year-old who is no relation to me, and definitely not my grandchild, so don’t ask.
Photo Credit: Her mother

My life changed a few weeks ago when my San Francisco–area sister visited me. She’s beautiful and fashionable, and bossy. She persuaded me, against my better judgment, to straighten my hair with a flat iron.

In all fairness, I was hesitant for a good reason. Many years ago, when we were in our twenties, and happened to be visiting our parents at the same time, I mentioned that I loved her haircut. She told me that she had cut it herself, and offered to cut mine. I accepted her offer and, for some reason that I can’t recall, we decided to have my hair cut in our parents’ backyard. She brought out a chair, I sat down, and she cut my hair. Then she decided that we should go inside, so that she could use hot curlers and a curling iron. When she was finished, my hair looked pretty good. Only after I had returned home, and washed my hair, did I discover what a hack job she had done. I had a badly cut mullet. Now I knew why she had used all of those hair tools—to camouflage the mess that she had made of my hair.

This time around, I agreed to let her straighten my hair, as long as it was temporary, and no scissors were involved. When she was finished with the flat iron, and an array of gels and sprays, I was thrilled with my new look. My sister assured me that my new style made me look more youthful and fashionable. After she left, I washed my hair and re-straightened it with the flat iron that she had considerately left with me. I didn’t use any of the gels or sprays, just to make sure that they weren’t another cover-up tactic. They weren’t. My hair looked fabulous. I jumped in the car, went over to my BFF-CT’s house, and asked her opinion. She loved my hairstyle, too.

That clinched it. I was going to keep this style for a long time. I made an appointment at a local salon and had my hair chemically straightened. That weekend, I went to a party and encouraged people to take my picture. I couldn’t wait to see how I looked in photos.

The next day, I was sent pictures of myself from the party. My hair looked wonderful. The male-pattern-baldness, that my hairstyle displayed, did not. I had no idea that my hairline was receding. Apparently, my waves and curls had previously covered it up. There was only one thing to do— head immediately to the bathroom to find hot curlers and a curling iron.

Will I never learn?

Headless Guests and C-Sections

In Humor, TV Shows on June 9, 2012 at 5:31 pm

The other day, my son and I were in the very last row of the balcony of The Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan, attending a taping of  the Late Show with David Letterman. Generally speaking, every seat in that theater is fairly decent, since it’s not a huge theater. Specifically speaking, our seats couldn’t have been worse. We would have had a better view of the stage from our house in Connecticut.

From our vantage point, we were looking directly down onto the stage where Dave’s desk was. In between us and his desk were enormous monitors and lights hanging from the ceiling. The only way to see Dave was to crook your head to the left and try to catch a glimpse of him between the giant lights and monitors. Forget about seeing the guest who sat next to him.

On this particular day, we were the second audience. Prior to our seating, there was a taping of  the episode that was to air that night. We were there to view the next night’s show. By the second show, our show, Dave was spent. He came out looking energetic and enthusiastic, so we were initially psyched. However, the staff had booked only one celebrity, Bill Murray, along with a musical guest, so even Bill looked bored by the second segment. By that point in the interview, Dave was killing time by reading a list of every major movie that Bill had ever made and was commenting on each one. Bill tried to make clever comments, but he was mostly bemused. We, the audience, who had been repeatedly reminded—while being held hostage for two hours prior to the show in a bar around the corner from the studio—of our obligation to laugh and clap at every opportunity, did our part. But it was hard. Especially if you were sitting in our seats.

While Bill sat in the guest’s chair, next to Dave’s desk, he was only visible to me from the neck down. I could see his head and body on the ceiling monitors, but when I looked down onto the stage, all that I could see were his torso, legs and arms. From my vantage point, he had no head. It was like watching a disemheaded body on the stage. I’m used to disembodied heads, but a disemheaded body kind of freaked me out.

Naturally, it also got me thinking about C-sections. I had a C-section when my son was born, but I wasn’t thinking about mine. I was thinking—while I should have been laughing and clapping—about my sister’s.

When my son was air-lifted from me, my husband was in the operating room. A curtain was hung below my neck and my husband was told not to look over the curtain. He willingly obliged, so all that he saw was my head, and we were able to talk throughout the delivery.

When my sister had a C-section, her husband couldn’t resist looking behind the curtain. I don’t know if he regretted his decision, but I know that he was shocked by the disparity between what was occuring on one side of the curtain and the other. He later said that, on one side, he was talking to an animated puppet head who wouldn’t shut up about the impending birth of their daughter, while on the other side, all he saw was blood and gore. It was hard for him to mentally connect both sides of her body.

Excepting the blood and gore, I could relate, while watching Bill Murray’s body. I kept looking at the monitor to see if his head’s actions were matching his body’s actions. And, to complicate matters, he introduced a hologram of himself in the chair next to him. Of course it wasn’t really there, so everyone, no matter where they were sitting—Dave and Bill included—could only see it on the monitors. That was a relief. Seeing a disemheaded hologram would have sent me straight back to the bar that we were imprisoned in earlier.

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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