is clapping again. I am bowing in the bathroom. This is ridiculous.
clapping began last winter with a few routine slaps at twilight.
Clap, smack, as the crow flies then lands for a last repose on the
high voltage wire. This is where they gather for happy hour. The
black-to-black lineup on cable. I call it crow time, when I used
to take the dog out before cancer stole her from me.
Yesterday, I counted twenty but only one sits on the top spot, where
the thick wire winds around a regulator knob, causing the enforcer
to begin the clap. Humidity and heat are suddenly thick as summer
reinvents itself. I drag burning air from my beloved Canadian cigarette.
The clapper warned me to quit and I'm scared that I don't. She has
emphysema and got addicted to her oxygen tank. It was around this
time the clapping business started.
is clapping in her robe. She claps in sweaters. The crow looks down
and cocks his head. I meet his eye from my backyard and pat the
air indicating he should just stay put. Don't try to understand
the claptrap I try to tell him.
ten feet away from an old woman who's clapping all day and she's
picking up the pace. This is how I know she's still alive. I can
tell by the essence of the clap if she's spry or wilted. I've concluded
this is her main exercise, this incendiary heckling, because she
does nothing else but polish brass, water flowers and watch C-Span.
Her daughter visits once a week, the oxygen man delivers monthly.
She has plumbing problems too.
crows come and the clapping is steadily increasing my annoyance
level. It's long ceased to amuse me.
used to be cordial and sit on the stoop talking about geraniums
while she gave the dog treats, but she rarely leaves her house now.
She's become more fearful and persnickified, often oddly accusatory
and unsatisfied with gestures of good will. It makes people turn
away. We used to like each other.
crows and doves in training are busy too. I buy more birdseed. They
linger longer with the advent of all the fledglings, (and, yes,
I know because the mighty clapper makes the announcements).
isn't missing a beat, three maybe four or even five or more times
a day now. The rhythm is commanding and deliberate like communists
at a party meeting: slapdash and harsh. It's nothing like applause.
afraid a bird will somehow spark an electrical outage. And. Pop,
sizzle, kaboom. She must be highly concerned. Highly concerned.
Did she see this on TV?
clap is to gesture approval. What she doesn't know about it! I have
never approved. From the first time it made me bristle because birds
are all I have right now. I need them here. I'm not alone when they're
poking and flittering and having bumbling sex and singing. I feel
I must defend the territory against this pesky, clap-happy invasion.
how to quell the action? Attempt some Pavlovian diversion tactic?
Throw lemons over the fence; dare to join in for clap-a-long? I'm
afraid for our mental health. I don't want to battle dementia AND
obsession. It's stressful enough, the incessant delivery so deft
by a tiny bird-woman attached to an oxygen tube.
we all admit the clap is of no consequence for the crows? She'd
have to agree.
it a good time to talk, ah, about the constant clapping, I mean,
is it working for you?"
I could get a BB gun and fire warning shots.
I worry it'll get worse before it gets better for both our sakes.
It does seem to be getting worse. The days are longer and the clap
extends until the final crow fades to black. What if she has some
clap-attack and can't stop? Who do you dial?
on. Dear God. Clap off. Dear God. The dear clapper has tried out
a new tactic that I'm hoping is a one-time occurrence. I heard the
initial clap and said to my husband, "See. Hear that?"
Then, we looked while the neighbor, who must have struggled with
the garden hose on full-power, sprayed shooting water up into the
sky as close to the high voltage box as she could get. This is probably
a bad idea. But the crows did finally fly off, to across the street
where the portrait painter throws them peanuts from his front door.
my lowest point I wonder if she is fully aware I am on the verge
of retaliation, yet she continues the diligent encores. Would she
conspire to make my head spin with all these delusional notions
of countering the strikes, and actually, not only, take pleasure
but perhaps, hope to offend? Deep down, I know she is stuck in her
own small world. She would be mortified to find out how annoyed
and alarmed and tired I am. I also know she misses my dog. Probably
misses our visits. I just want everybody to find relief. It must
be awful being scared all the time. I hope to be like the other
old lady who feeds the hummingbirds high-powered sugar water and
lets them dart around her head. Dizzy and joyful. Please, please
don't worry about an electrical outage. Don't fret about not being
able to breathe. I'm sorry you worry so. Everything will be all
right. It must be tough when the end is near. Let's sit on the stoop
and talk about roses.
it only yesterday I took a bow? The grand bow in a fine tempo to
the first clapping of the day, I wasn't fully awake, but it did
give relief. It must have been an auto-response. Maybe this is the
key, to get in sync with it. The bow made it absurd (good), albeit
in a Fellini-esque sort of way. I must keep this in mind, at least
theoretically. Use it when the going gets tough. Take the bow. Relish
the applause. Because one day I'll worry about not hearing a sound.
version for easy reading
material is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission|