Category Archives: birds

Quackatoonity (Religion Where Ducks are Always Watching)

Yes, the universe was not formed in a big bang. It hatched from an egg. And God is the Ultimate Mallard.

Anatidaephobia (pronounced anna-tidy-phobia) is a pervasive and irrational fear that you are being watched by a duck. A person with this rare phobia fears that somehow, somewhere a duck is watching their every move.

This phobia about being watched by a duck may seem like a strange basis for forming a new religion. But I may have had an epiphany as a child when a goose at Deer Farm Zoo stuck his neck, head, and beak of retribution out through a hole in his chicken-wire cage and nearly nipped me in my five-year-old neck. That epiphany led to recurring nightmares about being chased by a duck with large white teeth that looked like he had bad human dentures in his bill.

This I tended to interpret as a sign that I was facing a big decision about what I would attempt to do with my young life, and would do it wrong.

Ducks in the farmyard, you see, are temperamental, often impulsive, and randomly violent. They will punish you for sins you did not know you were committing.

So, in this Quackatoon faith in judgmental ducks who are constantly watching our every move, thought, and deed, we should be taking Saint Donald Duck as our role-model and guide. When we see sin and wrongness in the world we are watching, we must dissolve in incoherent rage. Point your finger. Shout things that no one understands. Get the world’s attention. Confuse them completely. And get them to wonder what they did to make you so rage-filled and dangerously aggravated.

Then, hopefully, they will realize their sin and immediately mend their ways. Or at least, rearrange their feathers.

Or we can rely on the incompetent vengeful wrath of Saint Daffy Duck to see the unrighteousness in the rabbits of the world around us, posting Rabbit Season signs everywhere, and getting his duckbill blown off via the shotgun of a nearby Elmer who has been tricked into thinking ducks are rabbits.

Well, that might not be the most efficient prosecution of God’s will on Earth. But at least it will leave us laughing. And who can sin who is laughing that hard?

At this point in trying to establish this new religion, I should probably be talking about financial matters. Where you can send donations to the Church of Perpetual Quackers? Will there be t-shirts with religious slogans like, “You’re Driving Me Quackers!?” Do we still bring deviled eggs to church socials?

But I can’t talk about that right now… a duck is probably watching.

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Filed under birds, cartoons, goofiness, humor, Paffooney, religion

The Dancing Poultry Conspiracy Theory

You’ve heard of the sinister 9-11 tale of the dancing Israelis?  Some conspiracy theories are very concerning.  You have to be concerned about whether the conspiracy theory is true and aliens from Zeta Reticuli really have been cloning Elvis, or whether the conspiracy theorist is a nut-bag like Alex Jones who simply needs to be locked up to protect him from himself.

 

But no conspiracy theory worries me more at the moment than one about the existence of German ninjas who advance the neo-Nazi agenda by the use of the secret martial art of der Ententanz.  That’s right, they do violence to opponents (and possibly themselves) by aggressively doing the Chicken Dance. 

You really have to watch the video above to truly appreciate the perfidy of Ententanz Fu.  Notice how it starts with the pinching-fingers castanet attack, useful for grabbing the opponent’s nose or other sensitive protruding appendage.  It is followed by the flapping elbows move that can stun the enemy by its sheer ridiculous flappiness.  And then the bouncing butt attack, which can potentially paralyze the adversary by bouncing them around the room.  All of this is followed by the dancing in a circle maneuver which renders the viewer unconscious with insane levels of laughter.  Yes, the aggressive use of the chicken dance can literally make you laugh yourself to death.

c360_2017-02-17-10-38-01-138

Now, if you truly believe I am not totally serious about the dangers of ninjas doing the chicken dance in order to assassinate ordinary tax-paying citizens, I should warn you…

I mean, most people think of Ententanz Fu as merely another way German-themed tourist traps like the ones in Fredricksburg, Texas make relentless fun and ridicule targets out of clueless white people during Oktoberfest, but in reality…  Yes, it is that, but it can be so much more.  Take it from somebody who narrowly escaped from a chicken-dance-induced coma fairly recently, it is possible not only to die laughing from this dancing-poultry scourge, or be embarrassed to death, but you can also accidentally tie yourself up into a German pretzel… at which point, chickens will dip you in mustard and eat you.

So be warned.  This is a danger not even Alex Jones on InfoWars has warned you about.  (Though, if you give him enough time alone with hammers to hit himself in the head with, he may come to the same conclusions soon enough.)

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Filed under birds, conspiracy theory, goofiness, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, sharing from YouTube

Fascination

I am falling apart. My health is poor and continuing to fail. My memory is suffering from an inability to remember the names of things. I find myself in the kitchen having gone in for a specific purpose, and not being able to remember what that purpose was. That is not to say I am not coping. I have quite a lot of adaptability and significant problem-solving skills. But that will eventually become a losing battle. Especially if I get the virus… any virus. So, what am I going to talk about with a dissolving brain and an hourglass of lifeforce swiftly running out? Fascination. I am fascinated by the details of the process. Like Mr. Spock, I find practically everything, “Fascinating!”

Birds and butterflies

My childhood fascinations turned into obsession first around natural things. When my mother would go to Vey Osier’s Beauty Salon, Vey had this fascinating parrot that was probably a hundred years old and knew how to swear really, really foully. I remember that being the only reason I was willing to go there and wait for Mom to get her hair fussed up (What my Grandpa Aldrich, her father, used to call it.)

I remember waiting for hours to hear that bird say the magic F-word or the horrible S-word. Or even the zillion other bad words I didn’t know anything about when I was seven. And, of course, I never did. The bird was mute the whole time during who-knows-how-many visits. But I did get to look endlessly at that green parrot’s amazing nutcracker bill that Vey always assured us would snap our fingers off like biting a salted pretzel if we got them anywhere close to the bill.

And when I was nine I was given as a present a plastic model kit of a Golden-Crowned Kinglet (the bird in that first picture). My relatives knew I was a burgeoning artist since my teachers constantly complained about all the skeletons, crocodiles, and monsters I drew in the margins of my school workbooks. So, I had a plastic bird to paint with all the necessary paints, but no idea what the bird looked like. We had to go all the way to Mason City to Grandma Beyer’s house because we called up there and checked, and, sure enough, there was a colored picture in the K volume of her Collier’s Encyclopedia. I painted it so accurately, the danged thing looked almost alive.

And if you have ever seen any of my butterfly posts, you know I became a butterfly hunter before ever entering junior high school, where Miss Rubelmacher, the rabid seventh-grade science teacher, made that obsession a hundred times worse. (She didn’t actually have rabies, just a reputation of requiring excessively hard-to-find life-science specimens like a nasturtium that bloomed in October in Iowa, or a Mourning Cloak butterfly.

I was able to find for her numerous Red-Spotted Purples like the one in the picture. I got them off the grill of Dad’s Ford, as well as in Grandpa Aldrich’s grove. And I eventually caught a pair of Mourning Cloaks as well on Grandpa Aldrich’s apple trees, though not until summer after seventh grade was over for me. I could tell you about my quest to catch a Tiger Swallowtail, too. But that’s an entirely different essay, written for an entirely different thematic reason.

Needless to say, my bird fascination led me to become an amateur bird-watcher with a great deal of useless naturalist information crammed into my juvenile bird-brain about birds. Especially Cardinals. And my fascination with butterflies opened my eyes to a previously invisible world of fascinating and ornately-decorated bugs. (Of course, I should’ve said “insects” instead of “bugs” since I absolutely did learn the difference.) And I still to this day know what a Hairstreak Butterfly looks like, what a Luna Moth is (Think Lunesta Commercials,) and how you have to look at the underside of the lower wings to correctly identify a Moonglow Fritillary Butterfly.

During my lifetime, my fascinations have become legion. I became obsessed with the comic books done by artist Wally Wood, especially Daredevil. I became obsessed with Disney movies, especially the animated ones like The Rescuers, The Jungle Book, Pinocchio, and Fantasia. I rode the bucking bronco of a fascination with the Roswell Crash (and the actual alien space ships I am almost certain the U.S. Army recovered there.) And so many other things that it would make this essay too long, and would probably bore you into a death-like coma. So, here’s what I have learned by being fascinated with my own fascinations;

  1. You do not want to play me in a game of Trivial Pursuit for money, even now that my memory is like swiss cheese.
  2. I have a real ability to problem-solve because I know so many useless details that can be combined in novel ways to come up with solutions to problems.
  3. I can write interesting essays and engaging novels because I have such a plethora of concrete details and facts to supplement my sentences and paragraphs with.
  4. It can be really, really boring to talk to me about any of my fascinations unless I happen to light the same color of fire in your imagination too. Or unless you arrived at that same fascination before I brought it up.

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Filed under birds, bugs, commentary, humor, imagination, insight

Penguin Proverbs

Penguins

You know how creepy penguins in cartoons can be, right?  The Penguins of Madagascar are like a Mission-Impossible Team gone horribly wrong and transformed into penguins.  The penguin in Wallace and Gromit’s The Wrong Trousers disguised himself as a chicken to perform acts of pure evil.  Cartoonists all know that penguins are inherently creepy and evil.

I recently learned a hard lesson about penguins.  You know the joke, “What’s black and white and red all over?  A penguin with a sunburn.”  I told that joke one too many times.  Who knew the Dallas metroplex had so many loose penguins lurking around?  They are literally everywhere.  One of them overheard me.  And apparently they have vowed a sacred penguin vow that no penguin joke goes unpunished.

As I walked the dog this morning, I spotted creepy penguin eyes, about three pairs, looking at me from behind the bank of the creek bed in the park.  When I went to retrieve the empty recycle bins from the driveway, there they were again, looking at me over the top of the neighbor’s privacy fence.

“Penguins see the world in black and white,” said one of the Penguins.

“Except for purple ones,” added the purple one.

“Penguins can talk?” I tried unsuccessfully to ask.

“Penguins only talk in proverbs,” said one of the penguins.

“But the purple one gives the counterpoint,” said the purple one.

“The wisdom of penguins is always cold and harsh,” said one of the penguins.

“Except on days like this when it’s hot,” said the purple one.

“You should always listen to penguins,” said one of the penguins.

“Of course, people will think you are crazy if you do,” said the purple one.

“People who talk to penguins are headed for a nervous breakdown,” said one of the penguins.

“Unless you are a cartoonist.  Then it is probably normal behavior,” said the purple one.

“Is this all real?” I tried unsuccessfully to ask.

“Everyone knows that penguins are real,” said one of the penguins.

“But there are no purple penguins in nature,” said the purple one.

So, I sat down to write this post about penguins and their proverbs with a very disturbing thought in my little cartoonist’s head…  Why am I really writing about penguins today?  I really have nothing profound to say about penguin proverbs.  Especially profound penguin proverbs with a counterpoint by a purple penguin.  Maybe it is all merely a load of goofy silliness and a waste of my time.

“Writing about penguins is never a waste of time,” said one of the penguins.

“And if you believe that, I have some choice real estate in the Okefenokee Swamp I need to talk to you about,” added the purple one.

 

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Filed under artwork, birds, cartoons, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, philosophy, surrealism

Quackatoonity (Religion Where Ducks are Always Watching)

Yes, the universe was not formed in a big bang. It hatched from an egg. And God is the Ultimate Mallard.

Anatidaephobia (pronounced anna-tidy-phobia) is a pervasive and irrational fear that you are being watched by a duck. A person with this rare phobia fears that somehow, somewhere a duck is watching their every move.

This phobia about being watched by a duck may seem like a strange basis for forming a new religion. But I may have had an epiphany as a child when a goose at Deer Farm Zoo stuck his neck, head, and beak of retribution out through a hole in his chicken-wire cage and nearly nipped me in my five-year-old neck. That epiphany led to recurring nightmares about being chased by a duck with large white teeth that looked like he had bad human dentures in his bill.

This I tended to interpret as a sign that I was facing a big decision about what I would attempt to do with my young life, and would do it wrong.

Ducks in the farmyard, you see, are temperamental, often impulsive, and randomly violent. They will punish you for sins you did not know you were committing.

So, in this Quackatoon faith in judgmental ducks who are constantly watching our every move, thought, and deed, we should be taking Saint Donald Duck as our role-model and guide. When we see sin and wrongness in the world we are watching, we must dissolve in incoherent rage. Point your finger. Shout things that no one understands. Get the world’s attention. Confuse them completely. And get them to wonder what they did to make you so rage-filled and dangerously aggravated.

Then, hopefully, they will realize their sin and immediately mend their ways. Or at least, rearrange their feathers.

Or we can rely on the incompetent vengeful wrath of Saint Daffy Duck to see the unrighteousness in the rabbits of the world around us, posting Rabbit Season signs everywhere, and getting his duckbill blown off via the shotgun of a nearby Elmer who has been tricked into thinking ducks are rabbits.

Well, that might not be the most efficient prosecution of God’s will on Earth. But at least it will leave us laughing. And who can sin who is laughing that hard?

At this point in trying to establish this new religion, I should probably be talking about financial matters. Where you can send donations to the Church of Perpetual Quackers? Will there be t-shirts with religious slogans like, “You’re Driving Me Quackers!?” Do we still bring deviled eggs to church socials?

But I can’t talk about that right now… a duck is probably watching.

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Filed under birds, cartoons, goofiness, humor, Paffooney, religion

Birdwalking Made Easy

Birdwalking in an essay is when you drift off topic and begin to meander like a bird from one spot, place, or idea to another, never quite pulling everything together into one whole thing. More like a bird eyeballing the ground as it goes by, hoping against hope that a worm will simply present itself.

The first stop, spot, place in the essay, or idea is a Paffooney, one of those pictures that goes with a story of its own.

This one is a picture of Grandpa Butch Niland from the the story, Horatio T. Dogg, Super-Sleuth. a story that takes place on the farm place next to my maternal grandparents’ farm place. I drew him while in Iowa.

But instead of lingering on the story of how I drew that picture based on the face of Jazz musician Duke Ellington and the personality of my Mom’s cousin and her literal nearest living relative… He lives alone now on a farm not a quarter of a mile south of my Mom’s house… I added this picture of a little lap dog and his nudist girl in front of a giant chocolate cookie in the shape of a heart which I added red and pink frosting to just today.

Why the heck did I do that, you ask?

Because I am making plans to use my AANR membership sometime in the near future to go to a nudist park and meet some other nudists that I have never yet met before.

And of course I had to add a black-and-white version of my anime portrait of an anime-loving nerd just because I saw it among pictures I could upload when I was sorting through drawings to use for a birdwalking post.

And then there’s this picture I found of the Wizard Pippin, two of his many apprentices, and his son Prinz Flute. I will admit to drawing that one a long time ago. It is not a photograph. But you may notice that Flute is a lot younger in this picture than the more recent ones he posed for.

And there’s my recently re-scanned portrait of Dr. Wilton Dogwiggle, Chemist, and his new invention, Happiness-Plus Potion. I promise that it is not merely warmed-up dog pee, although I understand that Wilton loves that odor. At least, that’s what he promised me when he had me smell-test it. It didn’t smell like pee, but it didn’t make me very happy either.

I will end this birdwalk with a photo to the nearest thing this old bird could find to a worm. I bought myself a toy for the first time since the middle of 2019. It is a Marvin the Martian PVC doll from the movie Space Jam with LeBron James. I couldn’t resist.

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Filed under action figures, artwork, birds, cartoons, humor, Paffooney, toystore quests

Penguin Proverbs

Penguins

You know how creepy penguins in cartoons can be, right?  The Penguins of Madagascar are like a Mission-Impossible Team gone horribly wrong and transformed into penguins.  The penguin in Wallace and Gromit’s The Wrong Trousers disguised himself as a chicken to perform acts of pure evil.  Cartoonists all know that penguins are inherently creepy and evil.

I recently learned a hard lesson about penguins.  You know the joke, “What’s black and white and red all over?  A penguin with a sunburn.”  I told that joke one too many times.  Who knew the Dallas metroplex had so many loose penguins lurking around?  They are literally everywhere.  One of them overheard me.  And apparently they have vowed a sacred penguin vow that no penguin joke goes unpunished.

As I walked the dog this morning, I spotted creepy penguin eyes, about three pairs, looking at me from behind the bank of the creek bed in the park.  When I went to retrieve the empty recycle bins from the driveway, there they were again, looking at me over the top of the neighbor’s privacy fence.

“Penguins see the world in black and white,” said one of the Penguins.

“Except for purple ones,” added the purple one.

“Penguins can talk?” I tried unsuccessfully to ask.

“Penguins only talk in proverbs,” said one of the penguins.

“But the purple one gives the counterpoint,” said the purple one.

“The wisdom of penguins is always cold and harsh,” said one of the penguins.

“Except on days like this when it’s hot,” said the purple one.

“You should always listen to penguins,” said one of the penguins.

“Of course, people will think you are crazy if you do,” said the purple one.

“People who talk to penguins are headed for a nervous breakdown,” said one of the penguins.

“Unless you are a cartoonist.  Then it is probably normal behavior,” said the purple one.

“Is this all real?” I tried unsuccessfully to ask.

“Everyone knows that penguins are real,” said one of the penguins.

“But there are no purple penguins in nature,” said the purple one.

So, I sat down to write this post about penguins and their proverbs with a very disturbing thought in my little cartoonist’s head…  Why am I really writing about penguins today?  I really have nothing profound to say about penguin proverbs.  Especially profound penguin proverbs with a counterpoint by a purple penguin.  Maybe it is all merely a load of goofy silliness and a waste of my time.

“Writing about penguins is never a waste of time,” said one of the penguins.

“And if you believe that, I have some choice real estate in the Okefenokee Swamp I need to talk to you about,” added the purple one.

 

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Filed under artwork, birds, cartoons, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, philosophy, surrealism

Into the Spring

The weather, amazingly, is more than fifty degrees Fahrenheit better than it was a week ago today in Texas.

The sun is now out.

Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day...?”

‘Of course not. It is not Sonnet 18 out there.

It… “art NOT more lovely and more temperate.”

And William Shakespeare is just a pen name.

But I saw a pair of Robins in the park while walking the dog.

And I don’t mean Robin Williams and Robin Hood.

I mean the red-breasted birds that herald the arrival of Spring.

Though it is not Spring. And I have trouble sitting here and writing this due to painful hemorrhoids.

Still, it seems like something new is starting.

It has now been an entire year since the start of the pandemic. 501,000+ people have died.

It is definitely time for something new, something better, to begin.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, birds, commentary, healing, humor, Paffooney

Fascination

I am falling apart. My health is poor and continuing to fail. My memory is suffering from an inability to remember the names of things. I find myself in the kitchen having gone in for a specific purpose, and not being able to remember what that purpose was. That is not to say I am not coping. I have quite a lot of adaptability and significant problem-solving skills. But that will eventually become a losing battle. Especially if I get the virus… any virus. So, what am I going to talk about with a dissolving brain and an hourglass of lifeforce swiftly running out? Fascination. I am fascinated by the details of the process. Like Mr. Spock, I find practically everything, “Fascinating!”

Birds and butterflies

My childhood fascinations turned into obsession first around natural things. When my mother would go to Vey Osier’s Beauty Salon, Vey had this fascinating parrot that was probably a hundred years old and knew how to swear really, really foully. I remember that being the only reason I was willing to go there and wait for Mom to get her hair fussed up (What my Grandpa Aldrich, her father, used to call it.)

I remember waiting for hours to hear that bird say the magic F-word or the horrible S-word. Or even the zillion other bad words I didn’t know anything about when I was seven. And, of course, I never did. The bird was mute the whole time during who-knows-how-many visits. But I did get to look endlessly at that green parrot’s amazing nutcracker bill that Vey always assured us would snap our fingers off like biting a salted pretzel if we got them anywhere close to the bill.

And when I was nine I was given as a present a plastic model kit of a Golden-Crowned Kinglet (the bird in that first picture). My relatives knew I was a burgeoning artist since my teachers constantly complained about all the skeletons, crocodiles, and monsters I drew in the margins of my school workbooks. So, I had a plastic bird to paint with all the necessary paints, but no idea what the bird looked like. We had to go all the way to Mason City to Grandma Beyer’s house because we called up there and checked, and, sure enough, there was a colored picture in the K volume of her Collier’s Encyclopedia. I painted it so accurately, the danged thing looked almost alive.

And if you have ever seen any of my butterfly posts, you know I became a butterfly hunter before ever entering junior high school, where Miss Rubelmacher, the rabid seventh-grade science teacher, made that obsession a hundred times worse. (She didn’t actually have rabies, just a reputation of requiring excessively hard-to-find life-science specimens like a nasturtium that bloomed in October in Iowa, or a Mourning Cloak butterfly.

I was able to find for her numerous Red-Spotted Purples like the one in the picture. I got them off the grill of Dad’s Ford, as well as in Grandpa Aldrich’s grove. And I eventually caught a pair of Mourning Cloaks as well on Grandpa Aldrich’s apple trees, though not until summer after seventh grade was over for me. I could tell you about my quest to catch a Tiger Swallowtail, too. But that’s an entirely different essay, written for an entirely different thematic reason.

Needless to say, my bird fascination led me to become an amateur bird-watcher with a great deal of useless naturalist information crammed into my juvenile bird-brain about birds. Especially Cardinals. And my fascination with butterflies opened my eyes to a previously invisible world of fascinating and ornately-decorated bugs. (Of course, I should’ve said “insects” instead of “bugs” since I absolutely did learn the difference.) And I still to this day know what a Hairstreak Butterfly looks like, what a Luna Moth is (Think Lunesta Commercials,) and how you have to look at the underside of the lower wings to correctly identify a Moonglow Fritillary Butterfly.

During my lifetime, my fascinations have become legion. I became obsessed with the comic books done by artist Wally Wood, especially Daredevil. I became obsessed with Disney movies, especially the animated ones like The Rescuers, The Jungle Book, Pinocchio, and Fantasia. I rode the bucking bronco of a fascination with the Roswell Crash (and the actual alien space ships I am almost certain the U.S. Army recovered there.) And so many other things that it would make this essay too long, and would probably bore you into a death-like coma. So, here’s what I have learned by being fascinated with my own fascinations;

  1. You do not want to play me in a game of Trivial Pursuit for money, even now that my memory is like swiss cheese.
  2. I have a real ability to problem-solve because I know so many useless details that can be combined in novel ways to come up with solutions to problems.
  3. I can write interesting essays and engaging novels because I have such a plethora of concrete details and facts to supplement my sentences and paragraphs with.
  4. It can be really, really boring to talk to me about any of my fascinations unless I happen to light the same color of fire in your imagination too. Or unless you arrived at that same fascination before I brought it up.

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Pyrrhuloxia

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The desert cardinal.

It sings and behaves almost exactly like its scarlet cousins.  It never flies away from seasonal changes or difficult weather, and it also tolerates drier conditions than its bright red family members.

Why do you need to know that?  Because I am a birdbrain.  I connect things that are totally unlike each other.  I am a surrealist.  And for me, being a cardinal is all about never flying away when the winter comes, never giving up.

20160424_181349

There was a time in my life when I wasn’t entirely sure of who I would become.  Let me say clearly, “I am not now, nor have I ever been a homosexual.”  And if I had been one, like a couple of my friends turned out to be, I would not be ashamed to be one.  But there was a time, in my high school years, when I really wasn’t certain, and I was terrified of what the answer might be.

And it was in high school that I met Dennis.

Now, to be honest, I noticed him while I was still an eighth grader, and he was in my sister’s class and two years younger.  It was in the locker room after eighth grade P.E. class was ended and sixth grade P.E. was getting dressed for class.  I was returning to pick up a book I had left.  He was standing just inside the door in nothing but shorts.  The feeling of attraction was deeply disturbing to my adolescent, hormone-confused brain.  I didn’t want to have anything to do with that feeling.  But I felt compelled to find out who he was anyway.  He was the younger brother of my classmate Rick Harper (not his real name).  In fact, he was the book end of a set of twins.  But I came to realize that it was Dennis I saw, not Darren, because they were trying to establish their identities by one of them curling his hair, and the other leaving his straight.

Nothing would ever have come of it, but during my Freshman year of high school, I encountered him again.  During a basketball practice where the ninth grade team was scrimmaging with the eighth graders, the seventh graders were all practicing free throws at the side of the junior high gym.  While I was on the bench, he came up to me from behind and tapped me on the shoulder.  I turned around and he tossed me his basketball.   “Play me one on one?” He asked.  I almost did.  But I remembered that Coach Rod had warned us to be ready to go into the game when he called on us.  I had a turn coming up.  So, I told him that and promised I would play him some other time.  He grinned at me in a way that gave me butterflies in my stomach.  Why?  To this day I still don’t really know.

Dennis’s older brother and I were in Vocational Agriculture class together that year and both on the Parliamentary Procedure team preparing for a competition. We were at Rick’s house.  After a few rounds of practice that convinced our team we would definitely lose the competition, David and his brother trapped me in a corner.

“Hey, Meyer, how’re ya doin’?” Dennis said.  Darren just stared at me, saying nothing.

“It’s Beyer, not Meyer,” I said.  Of course, he knew that.  The Meyers were a local poor family with a bad reputation, and it was intended as an insult.  And it also rhymed, making it the perfect insult.

“Still one of the worst basketball players ever?”

“I try.  I’m working on it really hard.”  That got him to laugh and ask me to give him a high five.

“Goin’ to the basketball game later?”

“Yeah, probably.”

I knew then that he wanted to be my friend.  I wasn’t sure why.  He was picking me out of the blue to make friends with.  We didn’t move in the same circles, go to the same school, or even live in the same town.  He was a Belmond boy, I was Rowan kid.  And he didn’t know I was only a few years past being sexually assaulted and not ready to face the demons my trauma had created within me.

Later, at the basketball game, he found me in the bleachers and sat down beside me.  In my defense, I am not a homophobe.  And neither he nor I turned out to be a homosexual.  He just wanted to be my friend and was taking difficult steps to make that connection.  He was the one taking the risks.  I greeted him sarcastically, and looking back on it, somewhat cruelly, because I was filled with too many uncertainties.  I never meant to drive him away.  But I will never forget the wounded look on his face as he scooted away down the bleacher seat.

He tried to talk to me several times after that.  He apparently never lost the urge to befriend me.  But as much as I wanted to accept his friendship, it never came to be.  I have regretted that ever since.

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Dennis passed away from cancer early this year.  It is what made me think about who we both once were and what I gave away.  I went on to actually befriend a number of boys through college and into my teaching career.  I never chose any of them.  The friendship was always their idea.  I went on teach and mentor a number of fine young men.  I like to think I did it because I felt a bit guilty of never really being Dennis’s friend.  I hope somewhere along the way I made up for my mistake.  I hope Dennis forgives me.  And I wish I could tell him, “I really do want to be your friend.”

The pyrrhuloxia is a member of the family of cardinals and grosbeaks.  And it does not migrate away from troublesome seasons and bad weather.  There is dignity in being a pyrrhuloxia.

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Filed under autobiography, birds, feeling sorry for myself, finding love, forgiveness, Paffooney, self pity, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life