Remember the fairy tales where birds and other pleasant creatures come out of their hiding places when they hear a woman singing? I think there’s some truth to that. Some days, when the weather is right and I’m in the mood, I’ll sit on the front porch and play my banjo. Birds respond to it. They sit on the power line and cock their heads inquisitively. I’ve had upwards of five at once. Now that I describe it, I admit, it sounds absurdly southern; at least none of my guests were cartoon bluebirds.
A few weeks ago, I had the occasion to play my banjo on the front porch as I’ve described. Passerbys, the ones not used to the sight, react in humorous ways, some beeping their horns and yelling encouragement, and others looking on like they can’t believe what they’re seeing; yet others, the majority I suspect, couldn’t care less. That’s how I prefer them, not being a showman by nature. On this day though, I noticed a white car speedily approaching. I could make out two young ladies in the front; one of them stuck her hand out of the window and offered me a gesture universally recognized as conveying the utmost disrespect. I chuckled at the irony. My banjo playing really does bring out the birds.
The humor passed leaving me to wonder what on Earth I could have done to warrant their treating me that way. I thought I recognized one of the girls in the car, but I wasn’t sure. The incident reminded me of another unwarranted bird-flipping which occurred a few years ago, when I had just returned home from being in the Navy. I was driving down main street and saw a girl from high school (although, after 10 years, I couldn’t be sure it was her). She was walking her dog and when she saw me approach, she inexplicably flipped me the bird.
I don’t know if my readers are from small towns or not, but in a small town, there are usually two (maybe three if you’re lucky) stunning females per grade; their exploits become the center of gossip and those whom they bless are blessed (and those whom they curse are cursed). The girl on main street was one of the two small town princesses from my class. We had been thrown together in the lower grades and given my natural creativity and vigor, she soon contrived to let me know I had an admirer. I liked her too, of course, but what was I? Ten years old? I had no idea what to do about it. Still, I think I held the affections of my admirer up until around the seventh grade when it was discovered that I was an antique-European who wouldn’t toe the new social line – a line created in response to racial integration. It’s passe to stand up for ones race and I quickly fell out of favor with both the community and my admirer, whose heart (as is often the case with these small town princesses) was as black as the negros she began dating in high school. I don’t think she’ll ever forgive me for almost bringing her to the light.
Now her diligent troopers carry out her whim by greeting me warmly whenever they drive by.