Good morning, wonderful readers! Mom and I are in beautiful Ohio, here to visit my aunts, my uncle and our many cousins. Several years ago one of those cousins, the lovely but deadly Bekah, tried to encourage me to add more anecdotes about my extended family to this blog, but I was too cowardly to do so. But it's 1:30am and the Miami valley is quaking with a thunderstorm, making it impossible for me to sleep, and I find myself inspired to transcribe for you a conversation that I had tonight with my Aunt Nancy. Everyone, of course, should have an Aunt Nancy, but no one has an Aunt Nancy like my Aunt Nancy, as this little interlude shall reveal.
My Aunt Nancy: "Do you remember the parakeets we had?"
Mom: "Oh, yes! Those were great parakeets!"
My Aunt Nancy: "Butchy was a great parakeet, but Timmy was not. Do you remember what Timmy used to do to me?"
Mom: "Chase you into the pantry!"
My Aunt Nancy: "Timmy was mean. He would come after me and chase me into the pantry."
Me: "He was a parakeet, right?"
My Aunt Nancy: "Yes, a parakeet. He would bite me and fly at me and make me bleed, and I had to run away and hide in the pantry."
Me: "How big was this parakeet?"
My Aunt Nancy: "What do you mean? He was parakeet size."
Me: "So five inches long maybe? How old were you?"
My Aunt Nancy: "I don't know. Ten or twelve."
Me: "So you were forty or fifty times the size of this parakeet."
My Aunt Nancy: "He was a really mean bird! You just don't know. He was mean!"
Me: "Mom, was he mean to you?"
Mom: "No, not really."
My Aunt Nancy: "It was just me. He made me bleed!"
Me: "Right. A parakeet."
Mom: "Tell her about that chicken."
Me: "You had a chicken?"
My Aunt Nancy: "The chicken lived in Kentucky, and it attacked me in the outhouse."
Me: [blank look]
My Aunt Nancy: "When I went down to Kentucky, I used to wait until everyone else was in bed before I went to the outhouse because I didn't want anyone to know I was using it."
Me: "You went to the outhouse in secret?"
My Aunt Nancy: "Yes. I just couldn't stand for anyone to know. I was like that for years. I didn't like to use our own bathroom with the window open in case someone might hear me pee."
Me: "So you hid your need to urinate from everyone. Proceed."
My Aunt Nancy: "Anyway, one night I scurried out there, and I saw what looked like a pile of papers in the outhouse. You know how they would have magazines and stuff for when the toilet paper ran out?"
Me: "No, I did not know that."
My Aunt Nancy: "Yes. The Sears and Roebuck Catalogue. So I left my contact lenses behind, and I saw this pile that I thought was magazines or something, and I started using the outhouse, but this it made this AWERK sound, and..."
Me: "Wait. Do that sound again."
My Aunt Nancy: "AWERK. It's the sound hens make when they lay an egg."
Me: "I see. Please continue."
My Aunt Nancy: "So it made this sound, and I thought I was alone in there, so I jumped up, and I hit my head on the tin roof, and that scared the chicken, and she attacked me."
Me: "The chicken attacked you. How big was this chicken."
My Aunt Nancy: "Normal hen size."
Me: "So you were maybe twenty times the size of the chicken."
[Second significant pause]
My Aunt Nancy: "You don't understand! It was a little outhouse and the chicken went crazy and I was trapped inside!"
My Aunt Nancy: "So when the hen started screaming, I hear my mother-in-law yell that a fox has gotten after her best laying hen, and then my father-in-law gets his rifle and comes running out, but instead of a fox, they find me running out of the outhouse with my pants around my ankles being chased by a chicken."
My Aunt Nancy: "Exactly! It was so embarrassing."
Me: "So have you been the victim of other bird attacks?"
My Aunt Nancy: "Well, when I was a tiny girl, a bird pooped on my head, and my mother had to take out my braid and wash my hair."
My Aunt Nancy: "And then there's the time Buck and I were fishing at Hueston Woods, and these geese attacked me."
My Aunt Nancy: "Not Canada geese. White geese. I started feeding them bread, but when I ran out, they got really mad and came at me. They were biting and pinching and chasing me, and Buck tried to throw stones at them, but eventually we had to leave that part of the park because they wouldn't leave me alone."
Me: "Was this a flock of geese?"
My Aunt Nancy: "I think there were three."
Me: "Three geese?"
My Aunt Nancy: "Yes, but one was really aggressive. He was the ring-leader."
Me: "One goose. And there were two of you?"
[Third significant pause.]
My Aunt Nancy: "They pinched really hard!"
Me: "I'm sure."
My Aunt Nancy: "And when I was in Germany...do you remember this, Buck? Do you remember when I got chased by that peacock in Germany?"
Me: "I'm not sure I can take any more of this. You are clearly a victim of repeated bird-on-human violence. I'm surprised that you aren't terrified of anything with wings."
My Aunt Nancy: "I'm not afraid of birds. Lots of bad things have happened to me in outhouses, too."