Every Sunday for the past year I’ve been the happy recipient of a free dinner at my neighbour’s house next door.
She’s an old lady with no one in her life but me, so although the free grub suited me, my presence and good humour suited her as well.
See how I said “suited” and not “suits”? There’s a reason for that. I don’t want to visit her anymore and I most certainly don’t want to eat her so-called food either!
It used to be so perfect. Before each dinner she’d take me out to her garden to admire the flowers and birds that would come to visit. She’d talk about her germonias and her berganiums and I’d pretend to pay attention because honestly? Flowers don’t interest me all that much.
She did something kind of sweet each time we’d walk around the garden. She’d take me by the arm and say, “Oh, dah-link, vat shtrong muscles you haff on your big, manly arms!”
I took this as a compliment even though I’m a woman. I’m pretty jacked, and I’m not afraid to show it.
She would tell me she had to finish off the final touches on our dinner and would ask, “Do you mind feeding the pretty little birdies that were visiting zat day?”
Small price to pay for some food, so I’d stand out zere…I mean there, pelting the birdies with bird seed. Whatever. They seemed to like it.
After a year of doing this, I was pretty good at it. I used the bird feeding time to practice my aim, hurling seed high up into the trees and scattering it far and wide. The old lady’s garden was the most popular in town for birds, I’d say.
She had hummingbirds. The ones with red on their chests. The ones with blue peaks on their heads. I even saw a peacock come in one day. But she had the boring gray ones too. I kinda liked them after a while, and named them after famous birds.
Actually I only know two famous birds, so they were all called either Tweety or Donald. They didn’t seem to mind.
Anyhoo…last Sunday I came in to dinner, sat down and started to dig in. I loved the old lady’s cooking, don’t get me wrong, but it was always the same every week. Chicken, chicken, and more chicken. Big ones, small ones, some with different stuffing, but always chicken. “101 ways to prepare a chicken”: she could write a book, I swear.
But hey, it was free, right? I wasn’t going to quibble.
I told her everything tasted delicious and we discussed our day, as we always did. I commented that there weren’t as many birds visiting us this week and she smiled at me, put down her knife and fork and said brightly…(I bet you know what’s coming, right?)…
“Oh, dah-link, you fed zem before, and now zey taste delicious!”
I think I threw up a little. I was eating either Donald or Tweety. Or Donald and Tweety. The horror, the horror!
I tossed down my fork, spat my food into my plate and ran out of that hell-house, vowing never to return.
Now that I’m safely at home, I’ve decided: I must warn future Tweety-pies and Donalds from flying near that madwoman’s house. What can I do to make them steer clear and continue on their flight path?
Help. The birds of the world depend on me!!
Our hearts are touched, they really are. And anyone who knows us can tell you, it takes a great deal to touch our hearts. Sometimes our pool boy, Jesse, manages it with his special martini/foot massage combo, but most of the time we lounge about, completely untouched, except possibly in the head.
That’s a metaphor, dear, don’t trouble yourself.
Now, where were we? Ah, yes. Touched hearts.
You see, when we first opened your letter, we expected the usual round of whining and moaning: “Oh, the old lady is boooooring! Oh, the old lady never gives me second helpings! Oh, the old lady makes me work for my supper, aren’t I hard done by?”
We receive this kind of bilge on a regular basis, and we were preparing ourselves to make the usual stern rebuke: “Get your finger out of your nose and your mind out of neutral, you ingrate!” Or words to that effect.
But you have taken us by surprise: your concern for the darling little Tweeties and Donalds of this world is heartwarming in the extreme. In fact, hang on a moment while we dab discreetly at our eyes with our lace handkerchiefs.
There now. Much better.
All right, here’s what you must do, if you wish to save the wee birdies: you must set up your own Bird Feeding Depot in your back garden. You must build the birds a giant birdbath, and scatter seeds and bits of fruit around; and you must learn the lost art of the bird-call, to summon your tiny friends to your oasis. You’ll find that birds follow their stomachs: they’ll quickly forget about your beastly neighbour’s garden if you offer them a higher class of accommodation.
You must devote yourself fully to this task, but we have no doubt you’ll be able to pull it off.
And once the birds are used to dining chez vous, you may eat as many of them as you wish. We suggest a nice hollandaise sauce, or perhaps a fricassee. Do let us know, as we’re always up for a good feed of Tweetie. Or Donald, as the case may be.