the good, the bad, and the ugly about the writing life

COVID-19 Pandemic Humor: Dinner and a Show?

My mother has long had a love-hate relationship with the critters in our neighborhood. More so since the pandemic. We’re room mates, so I notice.

Just last week, she jumped up from her comfy armchair in front of the sliding glass door, hurried to the screen door opened to enjoy the breeze, and pounded on the glass.

“Get off of there, Chipmunk,” she said. “I know where you live!”

When I asked what was going on, she told me that Mr. Chipmunk was up in the bird feeder again, stealing the sunflower seeds.

“They’re his favorite,” she said.

How she knew that this particular chipmunk was a boy crossed my mind along with how she knew all his favorite foods.

“The sunflower seeds are for Mr. Squirrel,” she added.

I had seen the squirrel eat from that particular bird feeder many times. He entertained my mother by his trapeze act of hanging upside down, bracing his back feet on a nearby branch, and grabbing one sunflower seed at a time with his front paws and eating it before reaching up to grab another.

Not nearly so graceful, Chipmunk had dropped from a branch overhead into the bird feeder and sat inside stuffing his cheeks. Until my mother’s roar made him jump down.

“He can eat the peanut butter sandwiches. I dropped some into the bush.”

When I asked what constituted a peanut butter sandwich for a chipmunk, my mother explained, as if I was not quite the sharpest knife in the drawer. She made the usual peanut butter sandwich with crunchy peanut butter (they didn’t like the creamy stuff, she said) on wheat bread and cut it into tiny pieces. She sprinkled these pieces into the boxwood bush to the right of the sliding glass door.

“Mr. Squirrel and the birds like them, too,” my mother said. “I can’t always be baking brownies for them, so they need to make do with the peanut butter sandwiches.”

I did vaguely remember an out-of-date brownie mix that had been baked and then disappeared from the counter not too long ago. But I was more interested in what the little varmints made of my mother.

“Um, Mom.” I cleared my throat. “I’m kind of wondering who is entertaining whom.”

She shrugged. “It’s dinner and a show,” she said.


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