Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Story About the Bird

While texting Benjamin about current goings-on, I said, “Remind me to tell you about my harrowing experience with the bird. It’s too much to type on mobile.”

“Aww, did you try to save a dying bird?” he asked, immediately thinking of the sweetest possible scenario.

“No,” I replied. “It was out for blood.”

“I’m pretty sure birds can’t become vampires…” he texted back.


Honestly, we thought it was a bat at first. We'd have a nice dinner out, get home late, walk up to the front door and this... THING... would shoot out of the eaves and fly erratically away. “Should we install one of those bat houses?” we asked ourselves. “Nah,” we said. “It's probably a bird.”

It's definitely a bird. Let me tell you how I know.

This is not a story about me bravely overcoming adversity and heroically facing my fears. This is a story of cowardice of the worst kind.

So, given that it’s coming from me, all of you should be used to this sort of thing by now.

Matt was out of town. I was cleaning up the house before video games and bed. I had cleaned up the dinner dishes, put away my yoga mat, and fed the cats. All that remained was to take out the trash. I didn't need a jacket, of course. Twenty degrees or not, the trash bin was all of ten feet from the door. How long would it take, right?

See, that right there is the sort of thinking that gets people killed in serial killer movies.

As I stepped outside, I startled the bird. It flew down from above the porch light, ruffling my hair as it passed. I cursed, watching it fly out into the night, and picked the trash back up, having dropped it to cover my head with my hands. “Hello to you too,” I said, crossing the driveway and depositing the trash into the bin.

The trouble started when I turned back toward the house, the bird having already done so. It swooped from it's perch on the light fixture and hovered, chirping, in front of my face. I, very bravely, did not scream like a little girl. “Oh!” I said (calmly, I swear). “Thought I'd be gone longer than that?” I waited for it to fly away.

It did not.

“Um, okay...” I said. “Shoo!”

“Screw you!” said the bird. “It's warm over here!” Or, that's what it would have said if birds could speak. I imagine. I mean, I don't speak bird.

I waited, afraid it would claw me in the face. “It'll fly off,” I thought. So I waited. And I waited.

“Okay, it's too cold for this,” I said, ten minutes later. “It's a tiny bird. It'll fly away. This is not a Hitchcock movie. I'll be fine.” I took a step forward.

The bird looked me in the eye and very deliberately turned tail and flew into the house.

Or, he would have if he hadn't slammed head first into the (closed) screen door and flopped pathetically to the porch.

“Oh my God, I've killed it!” I said, reaching out with both hands.

The bird, very much alive, was having none of it. Twittering, it rose from the cold concrete like a small and very fluffy phoenix, hovering two feet off the ground as it scrabbled at the closed screen door. “Maybe I can just slip through the door... If I'm quick enough, it won't fly in after me,” I thought. Meanwhile, the bird “thwopped” against the door with a soft sound, a quiet sound, like unenthusiastic applause or a teddy bear falling off a bed.

Just the sort of sound, naturally, that could pull the cats out of a sound sleep. They materialized on the other side of that screen door as if they'd been summoned from the bedroom in some sort of arcane ritual. The oblivious bird hovered before their eyes, like an angelic visitation.

Slipping through the door was right out, not without the cats rushing out and the bird rushing in.

“Okay,” I said to myself. “I'll go through the back door... which is locked. And I don't have my keys.”

Inside, the cats began singing enthusiastic songs of romance, inviting the bird to come inside for cocktails and a light snog.

“I'll get the blanket out of the car and throw it over the bird... Except the car's locked. And I have no keys,” I thought.

One of the cats reached a tentative paw toward the glass, as if unsure this beautiful, amazing creature really existed.

“If only I had something to wave at it,” I thought. “Something like a jacket, for example.”

And then, both cats stretched up in undisguised glee, their declawed front feet swishing softly against the door, which jiggled, unlatched, in it's frame. Their full weight would push it open any moment now.

“I'll just call someone to come rescue me...” I thought, “from a small, frightened bird.” This, my friends, is what they call a low point.

I was out of options, freezing, faced with the cats' imminent escape. Now was the time for action.


“What did you do?” my mom asked when I told my parents about it over lunch. “Did you scare it away?”

“Oh, heck, no! I waited for it to fly off on its own!” I said. “I didn't want it to claw my face or peck out my eyes.”

“Was it a swallow?” asked dad.

“No, it was a male house finch,” I said.

“How do you know?” said mom.

“I had plenty of time to survey the markings. I'm absolutely sure.”

So that’s the story about the bird.

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