Family Life

Episode 55 – Listen to the Birds

“Listen to the birds. Listen to them,” Denny tells me attentively.

I listen. I was talking to Denny and hadn’t even heard them. Now the birds stop. I say something and they start again.

“They hear me talking and then they sing.”

I listen and the birds are quiet. I say something and they start twittering.

“They sing when I say something.”

“They hear that you’re happy and it makes them happy.”

Denny’s eyes are alight as he looks at me.

“They sound so cheerful,” I say.

I walk closer to the window.

“You probably won’t be able to see them.”

“They look like finches. There are quite a few of them,” I see them flitting from limb to limb on a tree in front of our living room window.

“It doesn’t look like it’s going to clear up today, but the birds sure like it out there,” Denny comments from the bathroom now, and I hear a waterfall. I imagine him gazing out the window above the toilet. The window in the bathroom was the selling feature for me.

This morning I am settling myself in the bedroom to write.

“Have you got your window open so that you can hear the birds?” Denny comes and stands in the doorway.

“Yes, I do.” From my perch on the bed I ask Denny if he has seen my reading glasses. He finds a pair in the living room and brings them to me. I put them on and take them off again.

“Would you mind cleaning these for me?”

Denny’s eyebrows raise. He looks at me with an incredulous grin and doesn’t move.

“Of all the times I’ve cleaned your glasses for you, this is the first time I’ve asked you to clean my glasses,” I’m surprised I haven’t noticed this slight inequality before.

Denny takes my glasses and a few moments later he is back. My glasses are sparking clean. I am impressed.

“This is so much better than reading through a foggy haze.”

“You mean you would have continued reading through dirty glasses?”

“No, they were so bad, I think I would have dragged myself out of bed and cleaned them.”

Denny comes closer and peers out the window beside the bed, “I wonder if this is a walking day or a driving day.”

“Definitely a walking day. This is the kind of West Coast day when you want to breathe in the mist. I don’t think it’s raining heavily out there. Just put on your hat.”

A moment later he returns wearing his leather hat. It’s an ivy cap. I have a bit of a hat fetish, and I am not the only one in our family.

Denny has disappeared now. Gone to the gym. It’s Saturday morning and I am writing my bio. Not my favorite thing to do. One hundred words, for the organization I work for.

I’m reminded of a voicemail I heard once where the speaker impersonated Greta Garbo. In writing, voice is everything. I decide to look up bios online, for inspiration. Here’s one: “I am a man of power and mystery. The only thing that exceeds my power is my mystery.”

I wrap up my bio, more quickly than I anticipated and then Denny walks in. He is back from the gym. I read him the bio of the man of mystery. He laughs. I read my bio to him. He approves.

Thinking of my bio, I remember that Denny and I were at a jam the other week and I sang I am a Man of Constant Sorrow. I always think it’s funny when I sing it. I expect Denny will be amused, but he’s not. He doesn’t crack a smile.

You can live with a man for thirty years and still not get him. A man of mystery.


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