Friday, August 29, 2008

The Birds

I was returning from a shopping trip when the old lady next door came out to talk to me. Usually, I avoid the old bird. Back when I first moved in, the Old Bird came out and introduced herself. At first, I thought it was a neighborly thing to do; and I was raised to be respectful of elders. So I smiled and tried some polite conversation. Only, it turned out to be a one sided conversation as the Old Bird decided to launch into her life story about selling her home because it was too big for her to keep up with it, and that moving into an apartment was the right choice. Of course, now her 37 year old son lived with her; he's never been married; he's trying for disability benefits. Then she talked about her diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease, and almost every other disease known to old people. All I could do was nod and say 'uh huh' as she went on and on about her aches and pains. And that's when I decided to avoid her at all costs.

She likes to sit by her front window and call out to passersby, engaging them in tedious conversations about the weather...and how it's affecting her sciatica. I've learned to just do a quick wave and smile before dashing behind closed doors--be it the front door or car door. On some occasions I've wished her a happy whatever holiday it happened to be, but the minute she started to bring up her swollen ankles, I end the conversation quickly by excusing myself do some fake emergency task or urgent errand. And some days, I just take the long way around the building just so I don't pass by her window and end up talking to her.

I think she's lonely; she's a part time cat lady as well. She doesn't keep any cats, but twice a day, she puts out bowls of water and food for cats. Naturally, a lot of cats come by for meal time--strays and pets! She's given the cats names--even the ones that all ready have names on their collars. Some of these cats have decided to take up residence on my porch and windowsill. I don't really mind that much. The good news is, with all these strays, there's less bird crap on my car. The bad news is that some of these cats like to nap on my car, leaving paw prints and mud on my (especially newly washed) car!

So I had my car trunk open, wondering what she wanted to talk about. What could be so urgent that she actually left her perch by her front window to wait outside for me--or anyone else, I suppose--so she could talk?

She asked the most peculiar question, "Are you being targeted by Asian gangs?"

"Pardon?," I asked, not quite sure if I had heard her right.

She replied, "I was wondering if you were having any trouble with some Asian gangs."

Okay, no problem with my hearing; possible problem with her head. I wondered if she had maybe forgotten to take some pills today; or maybe she took too many. But I said, "No. No problems. I don't even know any Asian gangs," I paused, "Why do you ask?"

She said, "Oh, I found a dead bird on my doorstep this morning. And it's wings were spread."

"Oh," I said, "Maybe a cat did it. Cats like to bring their catches as gifts to their caretakers sometimes."

"That's what I thought at first," she replied, "but my son said it was a gang sign because the wings were open and it was laid by the door."

I grabbed my shopping bags, closed the trunk and waited for an explanation.

She continued, "My son said that it's sign that Asian gangs know as a warning. It means you're being targeted for justice."

Ah, I thought. Clearly, the son has watched too many Crow movies.

She asked, "Aren't you worried?"

"No," I replied, "Not really. I've never even heard of any Asian gangs in this part of the state."

I had the key in my door, signifying the end to the conversation when Old Bird declared, "Well, I've taken care of it. I've notified the management about it. They took away the dead bird, and I told them all about the Asian gang signs."

I imagined the management staffs' faces as Old Bird told them about the gang signs. It wouldn't be the first time she's come up with something peculiar. The week before, she swore the Chubacabra was clamoring on her porch for several nights. She called the emergency number for the manager one night, and the manager grabbed a flashlight and ventured to see what the ruckus was all about. It turned out to be a racoon feeding on the food Old Bird had left for the cats. The management informed Old Bird that it was a racoon, and that she should stop leaving out food at night so it won't attract any more critters. Still, Old Bird maintained that it was the Chubacabra that visited her porch earlier. And I doubt anyone could change her mind about the dead bird being a warning from Asian gangs.

I decided it was time to make my exit, "Well, I've got to put these up and head back out. Have a good day, Old Bird." And I smiled and went inside, promptly closing my door.

I knew that it would only be a matter of time before they carted off Old Bird to a rest home. She was really old and with all her health conditions, it was inevitable. And as much as I try to avoid her, I couldn't help but think the neighborhood would be a much duller place without her.


  1. her son sounds like a real winner.

    The cleaning guy at work is the same way. Always chatting about old people stuff.

    I hate the old ladies who walk around the square I live on feeding the filthy gulls and pidgeons

  2. Hear! Hear! CP, feeding flying vermin should be against the law! Anyone caught doing so must be punished by having them scrub the grounds clean of bird crap!

  3. Or tied to a pole with bread crumbs glued all over them.

    The filthy birds will love that.

  4. CP, that sounds like a great plan...though, I say we should tie the offenders out of town so the filthy flying rats can follow them and leave the town free of their crap!

    And once the birds are out of town, it's open season on pigeons and seagulls!

    *loads up shotgun*

  5. I put out food for the moxen.

  6. good idea!

    MJ: that is so nice of you. Meese should be treated well.

  7. Maybe the woman is accurate about 'Asian gangs'. Are you sure you didn't complain about your neighbour in front of one of the dragons?

  8. MJ, that's pretty brave, considering that there are bears in your neck of the woods! I hope you've got a shot gun ready to deal with Pooh when comes craving honey!

    CP, I would be afraid of leaving food out for the moose; I can only imagine the horror of having to clean up after their droppings!

    Snooze, ha! ha! You bring up an excellent point! But I think the dragons have bigger fish to fry! Also, earlier this week, I saw a dead mouse the cats left by the old lady's door. She didn't say anything then about Mousketeers targeting people.

  9. didn't you know MJ loves bears?

    True about the droppings, it's a little disgusting

  10. Is that why she posts pics of them of her blog sometimes? Because I'm telling you, some of the things those bears do on those fotos qualify as droppings!

  11. Why does the old woman think its you thats upset the Asian Gangs , since the bird was on her doorstep ???
    Do you think the old lady act is covering up a major drug dealer or something :-)

  12. You know. If we aren't careful she'll show them in the action of dropping.


  13. Beast, she probably is trying to throw off the scent away from her devious dealings! Any day now, a rival's going to do a motorized wheel chair drive by her apt!

    I think she was desperate for conversation, as the heavy rains have stopped foot traffic on the grounds for now...I think she was dying to tell someone about her son's gangster theory.

    CP, let's hope not. That's not the kind of Pooh I want to see when I think of bears!

  14. I know. Me neither.

    Oh well, I've just got a great idea for something.

    It's remarkable what bacardi and schwebs can do.

  15. Going to do a little bear hunting? ;) or getting hungry for a bear claw?

  16. There used to be an "old bird" who lived down the hall. She wouldn't just knock on my door, she'd hammer on my door, then she'd talk about how she didn't have any visitors. I did feel bad for her, she had her issues, but I was never tempted to visit her. There's another woman on the bottom floor who's actually shorter than I am. She broke her ankle last year and told me it was difficult to go outside. Poor lady.

  17. After reading Taras comment I remembered this old woman I met on the street once. It was getting dark (it was winter) and she couldn't see very well. So she asked me to follow her home, and carry her groceries.

    Being the nice guy I was, I did. Then I sat there in her living room for about an hour while she kept yapping about how her grand children never visited.

    Poor old woman, I was just sitting there dying to get out of there.

  18. Tara, the hammer knocker is a perfect example of why some people don't get visitors. Some people just don't know how to act around people to make them want to visit! That is sad about the broken foot lady. But such is life. We live, we age, and we move on in one form or another.

    CP, that was very kind of you. I think that's part of the problem with some people is that they don't know how to treat guests! They like to yap on and on and forget that there are other people with their own interests and plans. I think as people get older, their priorities change. When we're young, we crave freedom and yearn to explore; when we get old, we want familiarity and stability from the inevitable changes...Well, not everyone, but most of the old people I've met usually hold on stubbornly to the past; very few embrace the present and future.