2010.06.09 She's just a birdbrain

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

Birds chirping in the morning: that has to be one of the worst sounds in the world. What are they saying that they can’t just say it once and be done with it?

Some of you might counter that the birds are actually singing, and that it’s a beautiful sound. But, I know singing. Even though I can’t carry a tune worth a darn, I know singing when I see it. My mother, for example. Now, that lady could sing.

I was reminded of her voice when listening to a replay of a 1985 radio interview with clarinetist and big band leader Artie Shaw. Terry Gross of Fresh Air was asking him questions about old time songs from the 30s and 40s.

My mother, totally unlike me, had a beautiful voice. Unfortunately, she used it on those old-fashioned Artie Shaw kind of songs. She would tease me by singing, serenading almost, until I could take it no more and left the room. She would dance too, when she was in a really good mood. She would laugh when I expressed impatience and disgust with her antics, like she knew I was just too young to appreciate her performance.

Maybe it’s the same with the birds...I just can’t appreciate their performance. From afar, the birds chirping as the dawn breaks might seem like an idyllic small town scene.

Close up, it’s pure agony.

Over and over it’s the same incessant chirping and banter back and forth, a whole flock of them nitpicking on the same issue, on and on, right outside my bedroom window. It goes like this:

Bird 1: Colleen’s just going to bed!

Bird 2: Ha! Can you believe it?

Bird 3: I know! It’s like 5 a.m.! What’s wrong with that woman?

Bird 4: I know! She must be nuts!

Bird 5: Doesn’t she realize she has to get up in like 3 1/2 hours?

Bird 6: Not even Martha gets by on that little amount of sleep!

Birds 1, 2, 3, 4, 5: I know! I know! I know!

Bird 7: I heard her husband tell her at 9 p.m. not to be stupid and stay up all night.

Bird 8: She never listens to him, does she?

Bird 9: She just plain needs her head examined.

Birds 6, 7, 8: Ain’t that right!

Bird 10: She just needs to listen to her husband.

Bird 11: Yeah, that guy is wise...he’s an early-to-bed, early-to-rise kind of guy.

Bird 12: I heard her husband call her a fooley fool! What kind of fool is that?

Bird 13: That’s the worst kind of fool possible...no hope of getting smarter.

The birds carry on like this, the same line of talk over and over: I’m stupid, I’m wrong; my husband’s smart, my husband’s right. It’s too cool outside to turn on the big loud fan in the window at the front of the house, the fan that drowns out most noises and lulls me to sleep.

I feel around for earplugs in my nightstand drawer, but come up empty handed. I press my fingers to my ears, but it’s too much work to maintain that position. Finally, I resort to plugging my left ear with my finger while I lie on my right side. Instantly, the birds are gone and I am lulled to sleep by the sound of blood slowly coursing through my veins.

“How do you spell ‘idiot’?” David asks a few hours later as he’s leaving for work and I’m stumbling out of bed.

“With a capitol ‘I’,” I say.

“With a capitol ‘C’” he says and we laugh, because it’s obvious he and the birds are right...I’m hopeless.

A friend of mine accused me of being a workaholic; she says I’m always working. I laughed because workaholism is something I don’t associate with myself at all. I just keep on working until the work is done...the problem is there’s always more work to do.

I can loll around all day with the best of them, as I did all day Sunday with Maddie. It’s so pleasant to have her home; I don’t want to spend the day working at the library when she’s here. I’d much rather make her strawberry shortcake and help her figure out where she went wrong when she filed her Michigan tax return.

No, I’m no workaholic; I’m just a birdbrain.

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