Of birds and bees

The following was originally written for my work, which had a contest for anecdotes concerning working from home…

I have always been a nature lover.  I think it is especially best appreciated when viewed from behind large, plate-glass windows.

Working from home has afforded me the opportunity to appreciate the nature in my backyard even more.  As I typed on my laptop at my dining room table, occasionally stealing a glance at my deck, I started to take increased notice of the birds outside.

What types of birds were these?  Which ones produce which songs?  And why do they sometimes stand just outside the glass door, looking into the house?  Are they coveting my sofa, TV, movies, music and books?  Their beady, expressionless eyes reveal nothing, possibly concealing nefarious plans.

In order to educate myself, I procured a bird identification guide, and thi

s opened a new world of insights for me:

  • The sparrow-like birds that never seem to repeat the same song twice are Carolina Wrens
  • Those solid-colored, dusky blue-grey birds are of a type inexplicably named Tufted Titmouse
  • I am quickly becoming the most boring person in the world

Over time, I took an increased notice of the carpenter bees that also frequent our deck area.  If you see a large bee with a bare back on its abdomen section, with a yellow dot on its forehead and seeming to drift without purpose, you have encountered a male carpenter bee.  While the females do the work of burrowing into soft wood and establish a hive, the males largely wonder around aimlessly and are highly curious about their environment.  I’m sure there’s a joke in there about them being lazy; however, being male myself, I’m too lazy to bother.

In a heroic effort to briefly overcome my inherent sloth, I started taking my laptop out onto the deck to work.  An occasional carpenter bee would hover or even swoop down toward me without touching my head.  The latter is the closest they ever come to defending their territory.  Once again, I’m sure there’s a joke here about empty male bravado, etc., but I’m too lazy, etc.

Anywho, I was at my laptop out on my deck one morning when I became aware of a bee hovering at face-level about three feet away.  We were just staring at each other, me from behind my black aviators and the bee with his similarly shaped, equally expressionless eyes. 

I’m not sure how long we maintained this stare-off before the bee relaxed his legs, letting them dangle under him.  This alone was a strange thing to witness.  I wasn’t even aware bees could relax.  I began imagining the bee would start talking to me in the voice of Pauley Shore: “Hey buuuuuuuudy”.  Or maybe Matthew McConaughey: “All raight all raight all raiiight”.

Instead, I was surprised to see a long, dark grey strand unspool from the head of the bee.  Fully extended to at least an inch in length, it gradually dawned on me: a bee is actually sticking its tongue out at me.

The bee continued to stare at me, legs and tongue swaying gently in time with its hovering motion, seeming to mock me.  And there was me in my black aviators, arms already limp at my sides since I have such bad posture.  My posture is so bad, in fact, that I have frequently been misidentified as being a sentient pillow.

Deciding to complete this mirror image, I also let my tongue hang out as far as possible.  The bee and I maintained this bizarre display for what, in retrospect, felt like a small eternity.

Naturally, I was so focused on the bee that I failed to notice my neighbor two doors down out on his deck, looking at me with complete bewilderment.  Doubtlessly, he was wondering why his next-door-to-next-door neighbor was slouching at him and sticking his tongue out.  If you do not believe it is possible to slouch at somebody, then you have never raised a teenager or do not recall having been one yourself.

Having finally taken notice of the neighbor, I waved at him enthusiastically, but it wasn’t reciprocated.  I doubt this incident was part of the motivation for him moving before year’s end, but I still have to wonder.

I would have come up with a better ending for this tale if I wasn’t male and, consequently, couldn’t be bothered to think of a better one.