Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Friend Of The Sparrows

Yesterday, at the beginning of our Garden Club session, while we were inspecting a pepper seedling just outside the case manager's office, I asked Paul how his weekend had been.
He looked at me in that thoughtful manner of his, and said, "It was fine. I got some new contacts (lens)."
A little later, out in the garden proper, in the spirit of reciprocality, Paul asked me how my weekend had been. At the time he was cutting little pieces of cardboard into tiny rectangles, and taping them around the stems of our pepper plants, and then covering them with Vaseline in an ongoing effort to stop insects from eating our plants.
I replied, "It was fine. I cleaned my box, and got my laundry done." This was true. I did those things. "I published a list of the things I'll miss when I'm dead that I wrote in 1990." (see The Death List)
"Oh," Paul said, "the things you'll miss when you're dead?"
"Yes, I figured I better write it before I actually die, because afterward it will be too late."
"That's true. Can you give me an example of something on the list?"
"Covalent bonding," I told him.
"What's that?"
"It is a form of molecular bonding, atoms sharing electrons, that kind of thing."
"You're going to miss that?"
"Yes! I'm going to miss all of my molecular reactions."
"Rick, you're so funny."
This is not a laughing matter! I will miss all of my molecular reactions. Every single one of them.
The lovely Erin, for her part, had a much more exciting weekend.
"How was your weekend, Erin?" I asked her.
She thought a moment, then said, "It was great. San Francisco was great. We went to this race thing, and dressed up as trolls, and walked along. I've never seen so many naked old men in my life."
"Oh, that does sound repulsive, even to me."
"You dressed as a troll. A cave troll, or a mountain troll?"
"I don't know! I dressed as a troll."
Erin's much too pretty to be a viable troll. Maybe a hybrid troll/elf, but never a troll. Brutish creatures.
"What was the name of this event?" I asked.
"It's just an eight mile race..."
7.46 miles to be exact. Erin was referring to the Annual Bay to Breakers footrace, running from the downtown area, to the Pacific Ocean, which is held on the third Sunday of May. Previously nudity, drinking, and floats were allowed, but a crackdown was supposedly put into effect this year. According to Erin the crackdown was not that all effective.
"They also have something called a Love Fest, where there is also a lot of nudity," Erin informed me, "and where people actually have sex in public, and the police look the other way..."
"Oh really. When is that?"
She looked at me and smiled. "You're going to have to find out yourself. Dirty old man."
"I just asked a question!"
I take exception to being referred to as old.
The Love Fest is in late September/early October.
Paul came up to us.
"Erin spent her weekend looking at naked old men," I told him.
"Really," he said. "I'm going to Michigan Thursday night."
"You are," I said, "so you're not going to be here for Movie Day again?"
"Neither am I," Erin said, "I'm going to Arizona to see my family."
Jesus, these kids! I will not be out traveled by them! I will miss Movie Day too, and go to... Paris! Yes, the one in France! Top that, Erin and Paul.
I believe a passport will come in handy.
"Did you visit Alcatraz?" I asked Erin.
"No, but we saw it from the bay."
"I've been to Alcatraz."
"As an inmate?" Paul asked.
"Very funny."
"Did you escape from Alcatraz?" Erin asked.
"No, but I saw the cell where Frank Morris escaped, which was the basis for the Clint Eastwood movie. And I saw where the Birdman of Alcatraz lived."
"Birdman from Alcatraz?" Erin asked. "What's that? Was he half man, half bird?"
"Yeah. That's exactly what he was. No, he was a prisoner, portrayed by Burt Lancaster in a movie, that cared for sparrows, and other birds, and with time became an expert on birds."
I'm speaking of Robert Stroud, who kept his birds while serving in Leavenworth, before being transferred to Alcatraz. He was considered a psychopath.
Many are.
Speaking of sparrows, one alighted on my left shoulder after everyone else had left and began speaking to me. At the time I thought this rather odd, as usually talking birds alight on my right shoulder.
"Peesst," it said to me. "Are you Richard Joyce who lives in the nearby box?"
"Why yes, I am. Why do you ask?"
"I have been searching the hills and valleys for you for the last fortnight. You are the human who rescued one of my brethren several weeks ago?"
"Huumm, oh yes! I remember. The little bird who got caught in our window." (see Beautiful Little Bird)
"That little bird," the sparrow continued, "was a prince of our royal family of the Order of Sparrows. Prince Aka de Tagogilein."
"Yes, it is true. His father the king has sent me to find you and let you know how appreciative he is for saving the prince's life."
"Well, you tell the king it was my pleasure. How is the prince doing."
"He's fine. Wife trouble. You know how it is."
"I certainly do."
"I've been instructed to tell you that you will be a friend of the sparrows forever."
"Wow! I don't know what to say. I'm deeply honored."
"Do you need anything... sparrowwize?"
"Ah, not right now... not that I can think of..."
"Pigeons giving you any problems?"
"No, not really."
"Okay. If you ever need anything, just find a close sparrow, and tell him your new sparrow name."
"What's that?"
"Ebu dec Handikcourtsby."
"Alright, I'll have to write that down when I get inside."
"Don't forget."
"I won't. You speak very good English for a sparrow."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Oh nothing, nothing, I just meant..."
"Thanks. Well goodbye for now, friend of the sparrows."
With that the little bird flew off into the distance.
Damn, I thought to myself too late. I could have asked them to eat all of our bugs!

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