Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More Neighbor Tales

I was finally writing that long-promised letter to my Wise Woman today when I was interrupted by a little drip noise coming from my computer. For those few of you who are not on Facebook, a little drip noise means that someone is trying to chat with you. While many people sign out of Facebook chat for fear of being bothered by people who they don't want to chat with, I find that the benefits outweigh the negatives, and enjoy an occasional Facebook chat (and also, I have plenty of time to spare so I'm less protective of it than others might be).

I was not disappointed. “I miss you!” read the chat, from one of my former neighbors in Brooklyn, Trey. “How are things in Boston? Let me know next time you're back here. I be bored out of my mind these days! Keep in touch.”

It brought a little tear to my eye. Trey holds a special place in my heart, not only because he greeted me every day with a huge smile and a “What's new, Heath? What kind of crazy shit did your kids do today?” but also because, once upon a time, he heroically saved my lovebird Green Bean's life.

It happened over a year ago, in October '08, back when things still seemed peachy between me and La Moustache. Moustache was out that evening at a business dinner, and I was busily putting together my homework packet for the following week. I was crouched on the floor next to my printer, printing out pages, and Bean was next to me. He is very interested in anything that moves or makes noise, and he was hopping around the printer, curiously watching the cartridge slide back and forth and pages spew out.

He hopped a little closer. I was making last-minute edits on my computer and paid him no heed. He got up onto the shelf where the pages come out and ducked his head down to get a really good luck inside the machine. “Arrête ça! Stop it. I'm trying to work,” I said distractedly, brushing at him ineffectively. All of a sudden I heard a terrible squawk. My little birdie had put his head INSIDE the printer as a page was printing, and when the page was done, the cartridge slid back into place, trapping his head behind it. He was terrified, and flapping madly.

I tried pulling at him gently, to no avail. He was really stuck. As he continued to flap his wings, feathers went flying, and when a small blood feather came out he started to bleed. It was only a couple drops, but I had read many times how a small amount of blood loss could result in death. I rushed to the kitchen and grabbed a box of corn starch, which stops the blood flow, and poured it liberally over the frantic bird, printer, and homework sheets scattered nearby. Then, unsure what to do next, I called La Moustache. “It's an emergency! Come home now!” I said, my tone of fear underscored by the horrifying sounds Bean was emitting from the bowels of the printer. “But I just ordered dinner,” he said. “You really have to come,” I replied, and he relented. “I'll grab a cab. In the meantime, call Big Guy.”

Big Guy, for those of you who don't remember, was my Brooklyn landlord, a gem of a man. I called him up and briefly described my emergency. “I'm not at the house right now, but I'll be there soon and I'll come right up,” he told me.

Sure enough, he showed up a few minutes later with two friends in tow: Trey and Fat John. As soon as the three of them arrived, Trey took charge. “Do you care about the printer?” he asked. “No,” I replied quickly. “Destroy it. I don't care. Just get the bird out.” “Okay. Do you have a saw of some kind?” I tried to think if there was one, but the sharpest think I could think of was my bread knife. I ran into the kitchen and emerged with my dangerously sharp Wusthof bread knife.

Trey set to work expertly, and in no time flat, my printer was being sawed in two. The other two men stood around watching, no doubt as amazed as I was. Then, with a final flap and a squawk, Bean was free and flying crazily around the room, his little face smeared with black ink. He did a few laps around and then settled on Fat John's shoulder; surprised, Fat John reacted by screaming and hitting the floor. Big Guy, Trey and I burst into relieved guffaws as I rescued Green Bean and returned him to his cage, where he promptly fell into a deep slumber.

By the time La Moustache got home, the corn starch had been cleaned off the floor, the printer was outside in the garbage bin, a frozen pizza was heating up in the oven to make up for his missed dinner, and everything was almost back to normal. The only difference was that poor little Bean, in addition to being blacker than usual, was very subdued and quiet. This lasted for a couple of days, and then he was back to his chirpy self. By now, I think he's completely forgotten about it, although I still keep him far away from my printer. But I'll never forget Trey's heroic response. Next time I have an emergency, I sure hope he's around.
A recovered Haricot decorates the top of the Christmas tree in December '08.

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