Chicken Feet - Part 2

The weekend after we returned from a month-long trip, our Pastor and his family came over for Sunday dinner. He wasn’t what you’d call an “animal person” but I realized he watched them more carefully than I’d given him credit when he asked, ‘“What’s up with the white bird“, pointing to KoeKoe, our Umbrella Cockatoo who was slumping on his manzanita tree. “He looks like Psalm 35, ‘I was bowed down in grief’”.

“He is depressed, you’re right”, I nodded.

“Depressed”, he repeated, looking like a parrot himself, tilting his head to the side and inspecting KoeKoe from head-to-toe with one closed eye, “what does he have to be depressed about”.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my husband nervously tug at his collar and rub his neck meaning, “change subject, serve food, anything”.

“Some of the vet techs at the boarding facility were teasing him, telling him he had “chicken feet”, I explained, as if it were the most logical explanation in the world, all the while avoiding eye contact with my husband. I had a motive – try to get animals moved up just a little higher on the rungs of my Pastor’s mind, out of the “animals are dumb” category.

“I see“, he said looking thoughtful. “And did the vet techs just, well, tell you, right out of the blue like that? ‘Hi, Mrs. Ericson, we teased your white bird and just wanted you to know’”.

Laughing, I said, “Oh, no, sin nature being what it is, people aren’t going to confess to something like that without a witness. KoeKoe told me himself.”

“Really. Heh. He told you, huh?”, he repeated slowly, pointing to the poor slumping sad beast. At this point, the Pastor’s wife was employing the ever-popular collar-tugging technique, attempting to communicate, no doubt, that I’d hit a dead-end in her husband’s brain. Submission has never been a God-given gift of mine.

“Yes, he told me, didn’t he, Honey“, I said, turning to my husband. For the tenth time he sighed, knowing I’d ask his corroboration at some point, but really preferring to avoid any involvement. Silence. I tried again. “Mark heard him, toooooooo…”, I said, drawing out the double-o.

The Pastor jerked his thumb at KoeKoe, gave my husband the one-eye inspection, and asked, “So. You heard him, too, huh. Did it sound like real words?”

“Yes”, my husband said with sigh #11, slumping against the couch cushions. “It sounded like words. Just like what we’re using now. Nouns. Verbs. He knows ‘em all. ‘They told me I had chicken feet’ is what he’s said repeatedly, every single day since we’ve arrived home.”

“Okay, thanks for clarifying that”, the Pastor said. “And if you’d only said, right off the bat, that he used a complete sentence, well, well, I would have believed you much sooner! That’s a good one“, he laughed in a not-quite-sincere knee-slapping tone.

“Did you hear that”, he asked his wife, who was now standing over by KoeKoe, inspecting his toes. “You know”, she said, “they are very strange feet, aren’t they”.

I winced, asking, “Could we only use positive adjectives in regards to his feet, please. Come on everybody, let’s eat”.

“I’m thinking you’re serving crow for dinner, right?”, guffawed the Pastor. Shaking his head as he walked towards the table he mumbled, “big white bird that speaks in sentences and people thinking they know what its saying.”

I’d obviously tried to climb rungs that didn’t exist.


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