My sister, one summer, in a burst of generosity and a rare fit of de-cluttering, gave me an antique birdcage on a stand. It was one of her many unique purchases (either at a garage sale or an auction, I don’t remember which), and it, along with about another 1000 square feet of crap, was cluttering up her garage. So, she gave it to me. I thanked her profusely (“Are you sure you don’t want it?”) and, at the same time, promptly shoved it into the back of my mini-van before she came to her senses. I am almost positive she regrets her altruism today.
Since I sometimes feel guilty over having such a rare and exceptional treasure , I make sure that I get as much out of this gift as I can. Oddly enough, I’ve had more fun with that birdcage than one could imagine, and I don’t even have a live bird inside of it. Instead, I purchased a little fake chickadee-like thing at some craft store and painstakingly affixed it to the trapeze within. I did not want to permanently glue it in there because you never know when I might want to switch him out, for, what–maybe a live one?
Because he is not glued in place, the little guy has a tendency, after I’ve squeezed his little wire feet onto the dowel of the trapeze, to hang upside down, bat-like. This gives the impression that the bird is dead. He stays like that most of the time, because, well, he is a fake bird after all. That, and I’m too lazy to really do anything to make him stay upright.
Thus begins my story.
Shortly after I acquired this treasure of mine (cage and bird), I had the floors in my dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and foyer replaced with hardwoods. The fellow who replaced the floors contracted a carpet installer to come by and finish off the carpeting in the living room—butting it up against the hardwoods in the dining room.
One Sunday afternoon, carpet dude shows up, his truck parked and still running with his girlfriend inside chewing her nails. He came in, I showed him the area that needed attending, and he set about his task. I left him there and returned to my laundry folding or whatever it was that I was doing when he came-a-calling.
Once his carpet magic was finished, he hollered, “Ma’am? I’m done.”
I walked into the living room-dining room area to survey his handiwork. Then I glanced up at the birdcage. I made the split second decision to seize the opportunity to have a little fun and said, “Oh, hey…hey! What did you do to my bird? What did you do to my bird?”
Horrified, the guy walked over to the birdcage and cried, “I swear, I didn’t touch him! He was chirping away just a minute ago! I never touched him! Honest!”
Chirping? Nice touch.
Alas, the Oscar goes to me, because I even started crying, saying things like, “I’ve had him for years! What will I tell the children?” and, even better, “How will I go on? How will I go on?”
Carpet guy looked like he was going to vomit all over the floor he had just finished up, and began backing out of the room, still maintaining his innocence in the sudden fatality of the bird. I continued my mournful keening and sobbing, and then suddenly, I smiled and admitted, “Just kidding. It’s a fake bird.”
Most of the time when I prank someone, they respond with a self-deprecating chuckle in a “Ya’ got me!” kind of way. Not carpet dude. I really pissed this guy off. Glaring at me in a most hateful manner, he stormed out of the house, slammed the door, and tore off down the street with his nail chewing girlfriend, and to this day I almost but not quite regret my little joke. Why not? Because I’ve repeated it over and over again every time someone comes into my house for the first time. Hilarious.
In the big scheme of things, my bird caper was, well, just a lark. Or a chickadee.