Parrot Night Frights

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I was sitting at my desk at work when an evite found its way to my inbox. Delighting in the contents, I read about the highly anticipated TCU-OU football match up and a fun tailgating event calling my name. When I scanned for the details, my screen stopped on the frame indicating the when (three weeks from now) and the where (my house). I picked my jaw up off of the floor. Corporate communications would have to improve at some point. For now, I had a fifty person event to plan.
The eve before the party, when the house was impeccable, with dishware guarding the territories that would soon be occupied with gourmet egg casseroles, fruit, and French toast. The very last piece of the puzzle was evaporating any trace of the two parrots who normally ‘hung out’ downstairs in the family room. I carefully moved each cage stand, cage, and supplies one at a time into our master bedroom, where they would be forced the reciprocal horror of sleeping with both of us that night.
Fred I wasn’t worried about; he was a seasoned vet. After the passing of my last bird, he spent many a nights by my side as I doted on him and moved him into a new cherished role. But Frieda was green. She’d only been with us for 4 weeks, and her sleep routine consisted of the same thing each night. This new terrain was already throwing her off. I assured them both things would go a whole lot smoother if they would just shut it and enjoy the change of scenery.
At about 11pm, when I had conquered all I could for the night, I retreated to the bedroom, covered their cages with the familiar cotton sheet, turned the lights out, and fell fast asleep. When my bunkmate made it back upstairs over an hour later, he walked to his side of the bed in the dark and dropped his phone on the nightstand.
As if it were a gunshot, Frieda went off on cue. I woke up to blustery wings flittering and hitting the sides of the cage. She was engulfed by sheer pandemonium, and the dark made it impossible for her to come to terms with her mobile enemy.
“Turn on the light!” I yelled, suddenly alert in a maternal panic.
The light was on. Frieda seemed to be wrapping up her chaotic spell. But Fred- Fred was just getting started. Of all birds, he should know better. He chose to exercise his full range of motion- running at full speed into each side of the cage, flying into the top corners, liable to cut his own wing off.
“Fred!” “Frieda!” I yelled. “Calm down!”
But it was no use. I flung the sheet off of their cages to display one bird who was already back to status quo (Frieda) and one bird who was hysterical (Fred). I opened his cage and clutched him close, trying to understand why he couldn’t see that everything was just fine in the light.
When I uncovered my hand, he did something astounding. That little bird, who I was just sure could register the safety of our house, flew directly vertical into the ceiling. I hear a loud thud, and couldn’t believe his stupidity. We scrambled to get to the light switch panel as he headed for the fan. But he didn’t learn his lesson from bump #1. Freddy Mac revved up and took yet another northbound dive into the ceiling, this time, skidding across the ceiling the way a rock would skip over water.
Verifiably banged up, I managed to capture him and return him to his cage, next to his (already) sleeping girlfriend.
I spent the next hour analyzing what their conversation must have looked like:
Frieda: What was that? What was THAT!? We’re going to die!!!!
Fred: Oh calm down diva, I’ve been through this rodeo before.
Frieda: We’re doomed! It must be a raven!
Fred: Wait, what? What’s that you said? What the heck!? BAAGGHGHGHGH!
The four of us were never so relieved to leave that moment in the past. I was reminded, yet again, why it is not socially acceptable to leave your parrots out for new company. Although I considered the alternative…how many events would we be hosting if we did?

The Bartender

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He was running late and I had zero experience pouring drinks. About fifteen people had already arrived for the estimated 50-60 person tailgate in our house and yard, and I couldn’t quite afford to lose a vendor at this stage in the game.
I stepped out front to call him. His calm voice cheerily picked up, assuring me he was five minutes away. No apology, no lack of confidence.
When he arrived, I questioned the tired redness of his eyes, but couldn’t contest at this point. He got right to work, running circles around the guests premeditating drinks, cleaning up, and chasing people down with drinks they thought they had abandoned.
Just before the masses left, he joined me in the kitchen to help with the dishes. I was appalled by how helpful he was; I would remember this for the future.  When we were washing up the last of the dishes, he let me know that he was also attending that day’s football game. “Oh no!” I exclaimed, looking at the clock. I had surely made him late and was completely unaware. He assured me it was okay, then asked with affirmation, “it’s okay if I keep my truck parked in your driveway, right?”
Actually, I wasn’t sure. There were more events to follow the game, and I knew my husband would need his vehicle. I managed to find an extra parking pass for a lot just across the way and gave it to him. He didn’t seem to keen on the idea, and pointed out that he was already trapped behind another unidentified vehicle. Rats.
He asked if he and (I assume his girlfriend/bartender #2) could change for the game in our bathroom. Of course it was okay- it could only take a few minutes.
Nearly 15 minutes later, as I was locking up, I heard a noise inside the house. They were still inside?! I had nearly locked them in, unaware their dressing would take so long. When he emerged, he said thanks, and then asked if I had an extra set of gameday tickets.
Strange. He had already told me he was going to the game. Uncomfortable and without my other half who would have the answer I expected, I told him I didn’t know. He asked me to text him when I got inside if I had extras, that he’d just be waiting outside of the stadium.
When I left, I shook it all off as weird. But at least everyone was out of my house and it was time I caught up with the group since it was almost quarter 2.
After the game, I hurried back to the house to get ready for some of the partygoers to return to hang out before their next stop. In the backyard,  several groups were mingling. I sat inside the living room with a group of about 5-6 people.
I felt a warm grip on my bare shoulder that rubbed down and then up before I could spin from my chair to see who was touching me.
“Heeeyyyyyyyy,” said the bartender. His job had ended exactly 3 hours ago.
He was inebriated, and somehow, he was back in my house.  My apparent look of shock led him to follow with, “calllmmm down.”
I now had an audience.
“Did you find the keys you left?” I asked. Though I knew very well that he shouldn’t be behind the wheel.
“Oh yeah, I got those.” He said.
I couldn’t figure out what he wanted then. Why was he in the house, with the party still happening, drunk and oogling me?
“I didn’t mean to impose,” he said. Phew! He must have felt the awkward tension and was planning to leave. But he didn’t.
Instead, I watched him walk right past me, open the backdoor, go down the steps, open the cooler, pop open a Coors Light (!), and proceed to walk straight to one of the chatting circles of businessmen.
I couldn’t stop it from happening, but watching from the window was tortuous. It unfolded in slow motion. Eventually, he was kindly let to the gate, where he scrounged for his keys and made an exit.
It was one of those, “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here” situations unlike I’ve never experienced.
For future,  I’ll be sure I can make mimosas.

Cheap Swimwear

I was a junior in college when our family spring break landed us in an all-inclusive Mexican resort.

At the forefront of the main pool, that afternoon’s activity was well underway. About 25 folks lined up do si do style to do water aerobics in front of the ringleader, a Bahamian man in his twenties ripped up and tanned with a microphone headpiece.
My dad and two brothers were already in the pool area just behind the crowd. I sat perched on the first stair step entering the pool, about 10 feet away. We were all poking fun at the routine unfolding before us. Now, raise your arms straight out to the side and make small circles, everyone!

I was sporting a lavender and white bandeau top and bottom set that I scored a week earlier from Target. When in doubt, a girl always needs more cheap swimsuits.
The three of them were somewhat facing me in a half moon. As I started to laugh at another one of their charade of jests, something outstanding happened.
The low-grade plastic binding- the hook that secured my strapless swim top- snapped in half. Under normal circumstances, this would be a horrifying event. Under my circumstances, I was not only facing my three immediate male family members, but I had also been wearing a top size that was about 2 sizes too small.
Laws of physics can tell the rest of the story. Imagine snapping a very tight elastic band. My swimsuit top launched into the air like a slingshot, landing about 3 feet in front of me in the water. Just enough time to burn everyone’s eyes out.
I did what was natural to me: I dunked in the water while scrapping for my top. My male family members did what was natural to them: they nearly drowned in the water.
I will never laugh again at the women who spend $200 on a swimsuit.

Chair Noises

When I was seventeen, I was still pretty green to the dating scene.

But an upperclassman- a percussionist at that- had taken a fancy to me. Not only did he play the drums for our high school marching band (enter my being a part of the drill team), but he was also ridiculously smart. Or, at least I catered to that idea.

It should be noted that he was the first in a line of experiments involving a signed contract between “the dater” and my parents…but that’s for another time.

Since he was a year ahead of me, I would invite him over to help me with my calculus. There we would sit, in front of the kitchen bay windows with an old wooden table, hearty chairs, and hardwood floors. I would work diligently on a problem, following his completely unnecessary instructions, and he would ‘review’ my work.

We got the giggles on one of these wintry evenings when I would lean in to hear his explanation, and the heavy chair would scoot against the hardwoods, making itself a doppelganger for flatulence. The laughs perpetuated when it happened a second and third time.

But when it happened the fourth time, the chair sat unmoved. His words hung like like knives in the freshly cut air: “I’m guessing that one was not the chair.”

It wasn’t. And there was the lesson that self-restraint would prove invaluable to my future relationships…

Sales

I’ve never been good at sales.

I was probably the only Girl Scout in history who was solicited about the cookies I was ‘selling’ by others who had seen me dressed in green rather than the other way around. Feelings of obligation, hustling, and putting people on the spot still makes me squirm.

My mom would take me door-to-door, insisting the only way to get those gorgeous badges was to continue my end of the bargain to sell, sell, sell. I would get anxious, hating to force those delectables on unsuspecting homeowners, and tended to take my sweet time walking from door to door. On one particularly cold and snowy afternoon, I was tromping door to door to meet my ‘minimum sales.’ It was so cold I took off running across the yards trying not to get frostbite, but I couldn’t see the the newly planted tree suspension wires. My cheat sheet of cookie selections and boots went different directions. That season ended with mom buying nearly every box that was required.

When I took a job in sales at Nordstrom about ten years later, I justified it by noting that my gung-ho patronage could override any reservations I had about talking it up. Enter returns with feminine hygiene pads in the back pockets and men insisting on trying on women’s clothing.

But the bizarre and unexpected is where sales always lead. One being an elderly lady of about a size 14 in the juniors department, asking me to remove the pants from her prosthetic leg in the dressing room and put her into a pair of camo pants in a juniors size Large (or, my size). We couldn’t quite manage to get the camo above the knee, which left me face to face with her white panties for minutes. She insisted I stay on my knees to help with the angle of the pants.

Or perhaps a relative of hers who later showed up eager to join in the ‘palazzo pants’ or ‘jazz pants’ craze, insisting the stretchy low-rise pants were supposed to be worn at the natural waist, pulling and packaging everything she had in a way that said, “check this out.”

You can have your commission.

The Auction

The live auction had started. My husband and I, as well as our 8 guests, were sitting at a table in the back, listening as the bidding wars began. It was the event I had been co-planning for a year, and everything was going along swimmingly.

A side conversation was emerging at our table, focused on the recently-discovered phenomenon that there still existed places in America where people could exercise or swim nude.

Somehow the conversation escalated quickly, and our guests were making jokes I’m sure you could imagine on your own.

Contributing to the the revelry, my husband waved his bidder paddle in the air in jest, affirming the hilarity of the situation.

Except he did bid.

The auctioneer raised his light saber and exclaimed, “$10,000, do we have another?!”

My impulse reaction was to punch my right fist into his chest. Right there, in front of our guests, I had flailed my arms quite violently and should have been embarrassed by my display of emotion. But I didn’t have time to process that. I jumped up and in front of the room of about 750 people, many of whom I know and/or report to, I had to wave my arms in a dramatic horizontal motion to indicate that the bid hadn’t been intentional.

It was a weird wrap-up. I had to apologize for punching his chest. We had to explain the whole nude swimming/exercise thing when approached about the mis-bidding. We had to bounce off jokes about what could have been a great tax write-off.

Naked people always seem to get me in trouble.

Rec Center Fakeout

In a kickback to my college days, I’ve joined the rec center as an alumni. I forgot how old, sagging, and generally unpleasant I look working out in comparison to the fresh young pups who are delicately perching on the ellipticals next to me. Their inability to sweat while exhibiting makeup perfection at all hours of the day is and has always been their power over me.

Regardless, I took off on foot around the track to do what I do best. Two laps in, the other part of what I do best kicked in and I started to hack out a lung. The collegiate male in front of me was walking laps, and turned to stare at me. After an uncomfortable silence- one in which I was trying not to yell an explanation to cover the 25 or so feet in between us- I gave up. His stare was relentless. 
“I have asthma. No worries!” I yelled.
“Oh that’s okay, I was just checking.” he said. He flashed a smile back. Cutoff shirt and colorful Nike frees on…I know this type well. I checked that my wedding rings were visible.
I kept on hauling buns. On the next lap, I noticed he had planted himself in the corner of the track, doing calf stretches and staring at me. I smiled out of awkward ‘stupor.’ I couldn’t run away; I was literally running in his direction and couldn’t release the hold until I rounded the corner.
On the next lap, I could see in his face that he was going to say something. Brace yourself, I coached.
“You sure do have a**, but you’ve got some wheels on ya!”
Stunned, I let out a ‘bagh!’ noise, gave him an accordingly distorted look, and ran away. Mercy, thought, I’m a married woman! I must look very good for my age. And yes, thank you, my butt is nice.
It took me about half a lap to realize he assuredly couldn’t have said what I thought he said. Asthma. Asthma was what he said. And here I was balking at him like he was pervert.
He was gone by the next lap. And I was embarrassed. Years of being hit on in this very place, mostly by non-white guys affirming what I thought he had said, had convoluted my reality. I am an old maid. Rings on or rings off, all I’ve got are some ‘wheels.’

Spanish Ghosts

At 12:15am, I turned off the news, flipped off the side table lamp, and curled up under the sheets in the now very dark bedroom.

It couldn’t have been but a minute or two when I assuredly, distinctively heard something loud coming from downstairs. This wasn’t unusual. I strained to hear. It sounded like it might have been a cry from one of the birds. Except they don’t make a peep in the dark, and I’d never heard something like this coming from them before.
So naturally, I poked to my right, woke up my guard man, and the both of us armed ourselves with the weapons we’ve come to rely on: two golf clubs. He insisted I had left the TV on; I assured him I’ve never left the TV on downstairs.
I didn’t bother to dress up or put my spectacles on. If I’m facing the end; I don’t want to see it and I don’t care what they see.
We swung the bedroom door open. What rose up the staircase to meet us was an eerie audio overload. We looked blankly at one another. He trucked down the stairs.
I didn’t have to move anywhere to hear the blasting Spanish music. It echoed throughout the whole house. In Spanish. At 12:15 in the morning. Cinco de Mayo at Pappasitos was happening in our home.
It wasn’t coming from the TV. It was coming from the clock radio in the office, a clock that has been plugged in but unused since our move almost a year ago. Surely our killer was baiting us down the stairs, only to light us on fire with a tequila-gasoline concoction and stab us with some chips and queso.
But our Spanish ghost was nowhere to be found. We unplugged the la radio (now deemed schizophrenic) and retreated upstairs with our weaponry. 
I stand by the fact that there is nothing more frightening than loud music in your home, at random, in a foreign language. 

House Ghosts of the Animal Variety

I woke up to a hard knocking that resounded through the master bathroom. I shot straight up in bed, instinctively sure that a robber (or a very early Santa Claus) was on the roof. A hollowed pitter-patter went back and forth over the master bedroom, landing again in the restroom. Obviously I assumed the robber had found the skylight and I was about to die. When I pulled open the bathroom door, what sounded like tiny pebbles being thrown through a cement hallway (or beaks on plastic) met my ears. It turns out these two beotches wanted to party.

Despite the Peeping Toms, I went to use the commode and found a friend dancing around my ankles. We were likely as terrified as the other. I couldn’t move or else I would lose my place. He couldn’t possibly camouflage white. No one could win this battle. We’re still dueling 4 days later.

And outside, the mummy of a haunter past startled me as I pulled off a ribbon from around our tree. I don’t know how these things work, but this thing sent his message loud and clear: The animals of your yard hate you.

Car Trouble

I haven’t had the best luck with cars.

Last April, it was my second week on the job when I found my Cadillac Deville- a toss up between airport transit and a ride from the hood- keyed up on the drivers side of the car. Annoyed at best, but too fresh an employee to make myself known as the girl complaining about something so superficial, I kept quiet.

But two weeks later, I came out to find that the other side had been keyed. Perhaps I was being mistaken for a local drug dealer? I couldn’t blame them.

This time I decided to notify someone and was magically granted a key fob, promising me entrance into secured parking out back where no one carried their keys like a dagger. Mainly because all of us who park there work there.

A few months later, I got a new car. My first ever ‘new car.’ Protected in all of its glory by the secured parking out back. Two weeks (which has come to be known as an unlucky timeline for me) was all it took. I walked out to hop in my car with less than 150 miles on it to find that someone had apparently taken what looked like a rake to the back lefthand corner. The paint was scathed down, showing the metal in 3 claw-like hooks. I paid to fix it, hoping it wouldn’t turn to rust.

And then about one month ago, this happened.

Dang it. The very security fence purposed to protect me turned on me. Actually, it spanked me. And perhaps ironically, I had decided to park in the exact spot to avoid getting hit from TWO sides. And yet, this was the only spot in the lot that would have taken the fall.

And it led to my first-ever trash bag/duct tape exercise. Driving down the freeway, I couldn’t even hear myself think. Luckily for me, building insurance had my back on this one.

But as fate would have it, I received a call from Wells Fargo, asking if I had just spent $1,500 in Beverly Hills. Of course I would have rather been cruising Rodeo drive than trash-bagging it around Fort Worth, but I wasn’t. They shut down my card. Then my husband left town. Then I had to explain to the car shop that I really was good for the money, but had no credit and no debit card. And, no husband to cover for me.

The impossible lesson is that you should never drive your car to work.