This is an old post, but worth re-posting. Thanks for the memories, Mom.
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 time 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 TV and thought it would be a great idea to get some parakeets as pets. So, off we went in our car to Kmart which was a local department store in our town. 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 many years later by watching 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 that included a mirror with bells on it. It was like receiving a homemade poncho from your grandma that you just knew you weren’t going to wear. But, my mom was happy about the birds and that’s all that really mattered at the time.
We were told by the lady at the store that in order to get birds 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 Red 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. In making a case for revenge on buying the birds in the first place, Candy would make a long run starting from the stairs at one end of the house, through the living room, kitchen, and eventually into the den where the cage stoically stood; making a sudden stop just short of jumping on top of the cage. Barking to the point of calling in the police for disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace, it scared the birds to the point of them fluttering about the cage and banging their poor little heads on the top of the cage’s ceiling.
My mother didn’t anticipate this. She also didn’t anticipate how noisy the birds were during the day. This is when the cursing started. “Fucking Damn Birds!” “Shut the hell up!” I was sensing a loss of passion in this relationship. The love was gone replaced with disdain and disgust while possibly holding a butcher knife. The inner child in me began to sense that the birds’ safety were in question.
Until one day……
I heard a blood curdling scream. “THEY’RE OUT! THEY’RE OUT! I CAN’T CATCH THEM! DOOOONNNNAAAAAA……NAAAANNNNNCY!”
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 out the rollers 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?
But, 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. All chores in the house were completed with the full beehive hairdo firmly set in place with half a can of hairspray. I was in the family room right above the pool and was watching her to make sure she wouldn’t fall in. I was doing my job as a 7 year old lifeguard should.
Safety first, folks.
I became distracted with the Brady Bunch on TV. 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 International Airport.
Then I witnessed something I had never witnessed before in my young seven years of life. Along with the blood curdling screams, I no longer saw my mother on the pool deck, but rather, heard her running up the wooden steps. I didn’t know my mom could run up to that point, and she was so fast! 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 fucking 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.