I had a flash back today about my mom. My mom and birds never got along. It was a love/hate relationship from the start. I’m not really certain why birds had it in for my mom, but let’s just say that my mother could have starred in the movie, “The Birds,” and the birds wouldn’t have had to do much acting.
I recall two distinct situations in vivid detail about how the relationship between our fine feathered friends and my mother had begun to unravel.
The first one was when she decided to get two parakeets as pets. We had already had a dog, but apparently, she must have read something in a magazine, or saw some wildlife show on t.v. and thought it would be a great idea to get some parakeets as pets. So, off we went in our car to Kmart. She was determined to get everything required, including the birds.
I really wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of having birds as pets because you can’t play with them, pet them, or make them do tricks. Although, I’ve discovered thru many years later and several variety shows including, “America’s Got Talent,” that gosh darnit! you CAN play with birds and make them do tricks. Who knew?
We came home with a big cage, bird food, toys for the birds and a mirror with bells on it. It was like having a new toy that you weren’t that thrilled to receive. But, hey – my mom was happy about it. So, we were told in order to get them to sleep at night we had to put a sheet over their cage. This would quiet them down and all would be good in bird land.
Do you remember the story of Little Red Riding Hood and that damn wolf that kept taunting her and threatening to eat her? Well, we had a wolf in the house that was our mutt, Candy. Candy didn’t take too kindly to the birds. So, in order to piss off the birds and get them flying around in their cage to the point of banging their heads on the top of the cage’s ceiling, Candy would take a long run from the stairs thru the living room, kitchen and eventually in the den where the cage was and suddenly stop short of jumping on the cage. She frightened the birds by her barking and taunting.
Mom didn’t anticipate this. She also didn’t anticipate how noisy the birds were during the day. This is when the cursing started. “F**king Damn Birds!” “Shut the hell up!” I was sensing a loss of passion in this relationship and began to worry about the birds’ safety.
Until one day……
I heard a blood curdling scream. “THEY’RE OUT! THEY’RE OUT! I CAN’T CATCH THEM! DOOOONNNNAAAAAA……NAAAANNNNNCY!”
So, my sister and I looked at each other to say without a word, “You go first.” It turned out that the cage’s wires were too wide apart. With Candy’s unrelenting charging of the cage, the birds had had enough. they slid their way out thru the openings of the cage and felt free……as a bird.
A neighbor came by with some pillow cases and we were able to corral them up and sell them off to our neighbor who ultimately saved the birds’ lives.
The second incident was a little more brutal. Back in the 70’s teasing your hair in a beehive was “the” thing to do. My mother was no different. She had a nightly ritual of rolling up her hair in bristle hair rollers with plastic pink pins stuck in her head. In the morning, she would take the rollers out and tease her hair into a beehive. All of this was done without looking in the mirror – it was brilliant. It was a talent I really didn’t appreciate until I had to blow dry my own hair. If anyone knows me and my hair, it could take up to two hours to blow dry my hair. Who needs to lift weights when you have hair like this?
Anyway, one summer morning, my mom went out in the backyard to skim the bugs off the pool. She walked down the wooden stairs along the back of the house, got out the skimmer from underneath the porch and started her pool boy chores. I was in the family room right above the pool and was watching her skim the pool, making sure she wouldn’t fall in.
I became distracted with the Brady Bunch on t.v. Marsha’s nose got hit with the football and it wasn’t pretty. Then, I heard it again – it was like a flashback to the parakeet incident….the blood curdling scream. I turn to the backyard to see her waving her hands in the air like she was maneuvering a 747 into the gate at O’Hare.
More screaming and then I hear running of feet going up the wooden steps. I didn’t even know my mom could run up to that point! She opened up the patio door and slammed it shut. Out of breath, she looked at me and said, “Did you see that????!!!!!” I said, “All I saw was you waving your hands over your head! What’s wrong?”
“The damn birds thought my hair was a F**king nest!!!” They kept pecking at my head – Look! Bird shit!”, as she pointed to the top of her head.
The skimming of the swimming pool had now become my job.