Tag Archives: women

Say Cheese

The other day, a lunatic asked Birdie for a headshot to include in a brochure for an event in which Birdie was scheduled to participate. (Note to reader: Birdie assumes only a lunatic or a cruel and callous person would ask her for a picture to plaster about on real and digital telephone poles like a poster for a lost cat. Birdie believes in giving the benefit of the doubt, so she has pegged this person as a lunatic rather than cruel and callus. It seems the kinder estimation.)

Since the shot needed to be recent-within the last decade, anyway-the lunatic may as well have asked for a feather from a Dodo bird. Or in this case, the Dodo Birdie.

In her search, Birdie ran across the family picture that had been taken last Christmas. Unfortunately, this picture of Birdie could have been included in The Illustrated Directory of Deadly Diseases.

Birdie looked like she was in the last stages of tetanus. Her jaws were locked in a toothy grin that had the tendons in her neck looking like you could pluck a tune on them, and her eyes were unnaturally focused on the camera. The rest of the family looked relaxed and, well…photogenic.

Birdie has always dreamed of being photogenic. For her high-school freshman year-book picture, Birdie’s intent was to convey a sense of mystery and romance. As she looked into the camera, she thought far-away thoughts and smiled an enigmatic smile. The picture shows her nostrils flaring in a “what’s that odor?” kind-of-way and a visage resembling someone beset with temporary amnesia.

The earliest hint that the camera was not going to be kind to Birdie was in the first grade. The photographer lined up the children on the steps of the elementary school, told them to move closer together, and without warning, snapped the shutter. The class was facing into the sun, and so, Birdie exhibited her trademark sun grin, this one so severe that she was actually grimacing, the tip of her tongue sticking slightly out the side of her mouth. The picture made Birdie look as if she wasn’t quite ready for the intellectual demands of first grade.

When she has advance notice that pictures will be taken, Birdie quickly inventories her options, trying to come up with something the camera won’t ridicule. She could tuck her chin, but that usually increases the number of her chins by at least one. She could smile with teeth, but then her lips disappear. If she smiles without teeth, it appears she is suffering from nausea but putting up a brave front.

Gerald, says, “Don’t think about it so much. You have sparkly eyes when you smile. Just relax and smile.”

Birdie has tried that, too. When she relaxes, her shoulders slump, and her stomach pooches. And her eyes? Well, when Birdie smiles, her eyes become slits, just like her sister’s Chihuahua when someone scratches its belly.

“Roll over, Birdie. Say cheese.”

Birdie and the Eye Patch

 

Birdie had always wanted to be eccentric. Just a little eccentric. Not so much that her children would start looking into elder care, but enough to be interesting. The kind of eccentricity that sent the message–“I’m not in a rut. I don’t follow the crowd unless I like where the crowd is headed. And what’s more, I may not do what the crowd does once we get there. Probably won’t, as a matter of fact.”

Birdie felt she had the soul of an eccentric, but what was the point of being an eccentric if no one noticed? Just thinking like one didn’t always get you the kind of attention that a sincere eccentric wanted. You had to look like one so people would see you. Then if you were actually doing or saying something eccentric, it wouldn’t be wasted. Birdie knew for a fact that you could be eccentric all day long, and if nobody knew about it, you might just as well be normal, average, commonplace, humdrum. Sort of like that tree that fell in the forest when no one was there to hear it. What difference did it make whether it made any noise or not?

“What could she do,” Birdie thought, “to stake her claim to eccentricity?” People, in general, were doing such crazy things, that it was hard for an eccentric who was just starting out to make any real, visible mark. Furthermore, it was a fine line to walk. She didn’t want to be pointed at–just noticed with a bit of positive interest. Maybe even avoided by those whom she wished to be avoided by.

Not having had much practice at being overtly eccentric, she wanted a baby-steps approach because she feared things could go terribly wrong. You could inadvertently cross a line and be labeled a “nut”.

A parrot on her shoulder? A jeweled eye patch? No, that seemed more like a pirate, although, pirates were decidedly eccentric. A silver handled walking stick? A t-shirt that said “I’m eccentric”?

Maybe she’d just choose something simple but distinctive–like telling the truth—and the jeweled eye patch.

 

 

Birdie and the Backhoe

Birdie was pretty sure Gerald wouldn’t hire a crane to get her out. He’d probably remove the picture window in their bedroom and somehow roll her over to the opening and lower her in the bucket of the backhoe. They’d done that before with bathtubs and anything else that was too large to go up the stairs or that was just too heavy and unwieldy for the manpower that Gerald and their son, Jess, could provide.

Maybe they could alert the TLC Network and make a bit of money for Birdie’s treatment by letting them film the extraction. At the least, maybe they could make their own video and go viral on You Tube. There was always The National Intruder, but she wasn’t sure that rag paid their subjects. Maybe just sneaked around and snapped pictures and there you were–staring out at the people waiting in the check-out line at Stuff Mart.

Birdie had heard from a friend that he had read somewhere that after 50, a woman would need to exercise three hours a day just to maintain her current weight. Or was it one hour? It didn’t matter. Either way it was hopeless. Just to stay the same! That poor 50 year old woman was probably already overweight. That meant she would have to labor unceasingly for the privilege of remaining fat. Birdie hadn’t gotten the memo until she was almost 64 years old. Fourteen years too late. She and that 50 year old fat woman were never going to see thin again.

Birdie could hear the beep, beep, beep of the backhoe.