Friday, January 18, 2008

Simple Pleasures, Simple Minds

I was feeling a big glum on Tuesday afternoon, as I walked through Greenwich Village, when I realized I was close to this little tchotcke store I had explored just before Christmas.  It's the sort of place that sells Buddha piggy Banks, tiny lava laps, solar system mobiles, mood rings, that sort of thing.  I was looking for stocking stuffers for my family.  I toyed (sorry) with the idea of getting a Crazy Cat Lady action figure for my sister, since she used to joke that would be her fate.  The thing about those action figures is, after the initial chuckle, one is left with a figurine and a gazillion little pieces of plastic that have to be displayed or stored somewhere.  Maybe you put it in the bathroom so your guests can have that momentary chuckle, but if you decide to take it out of the box, everything collects dust until one of the accessories ends up under foot in the middle of the night when you're walking half-asleep to go pee.  

So I decided against the action figure.  

I did, however, decide to get my younger brother a drinking bird.  I knew about them, of course, though I couldn't tell you how or where I first learned about them.  I think I picked up on their existence through a process I call cultural osmosis.  It's why I can quote I Love Lucy episodes without having seen them.  It's how I know most of the Bible.  When a drinking bird made a cameo in a Simpson's episode, I knew enough to be amused by Homer's dim-witted delight in it. Little did I know I would share that dim-witted delight.  

On Christmas Day, James opened it, we set it up, and he thought it was cool enough.  He likes things like that.  To my surprise, however, I LOVED this bird and realized I'd have to get one for myself.  So Tuesday, needing some cheering up, I went in to the store and less than four dollars later I was already feeling more chipper.  I took it home, set it up, and my little bird, whom naturally I've named Bob*, has been drinking from his water glass ever since.  Okay that first night he stopped at some point, but I made some minor adjustments Wednesday morning at 6:30, and he's been going ever since.  It's 11pm Friday night, and he's still going.  

I can't tell you how much I adore this bird.  I can't tell you why I adore this bird.   But I really really really love this bird.  If you scroll down the photos below, then scroll back up again, you'll get a sense of what he does, but you won't get the full sensory experience that Bob provides.  There's the moment of upright stillness, when each time you're sure he's finally stopped, then begins the almost imperceptible tilt, leading into a moment of suspension just before he falls suddenly, dipping his beak in the water.  He bounces back, rocks a bit, and the whole thing starts again.  

Okay, I haven't been watching him that much, but each time I come into the kitchen, I check in on him, and when I sit writing over breakfast, he is there drinking in front of me.  Over time he shifts around the glass too, I think because the vibration of the rocking jars his feet a bit.  There's a lot to study.  

I could claim there is something meditative, almost Zen about this process, but I'm not meditating while I watch him, I'm sitting there slack-jawed and drooling while he falls, then squealing and clapping my hands like a moron when he drinks.  Ole Bob here just cracks me up, and so far, three days and counting, I haven't gotten bored with him yet.  

If only my pleasures were all this simple.  

*I'm not remotely sorry for this.  


Anonymous said...

I think we all have something in life we know to be fairly simple and yet are overwhelmed with the joy it brings into our life.

Congrats on finding Bob and making your life just a bit more fulfilled.


Sooo-this-is-me said...

Lol, Bob, very clever Patrick! Warm socks and now this, yes I really worry about you, I thought my life was bland. The reason you love the bird is probably deep in your mind you can remember the Looney Tunes episodes where Tweety made friends with one of these things, there was the whole drinking scene that made my sister and I laugh for hours afterwards. Well we were about four and six so that is my excuse. There was a restaurant near us that had one as well so of course we always wanted to go to that place to watch the bird. Hmmm, now I want one too, should have guess this would happen, one of my favourite bands is Simple Minds, so I guess that says alot!


Cooper said...

Sorry you're feeling a bit glum. I wish you lived closer. My boys would love Bob, too. Your joy in him reminds me of the happiness I get in my garden gnome, Tautou, who actually lives in my kitchen. He has a little friend, a chicken called Nino. Yes, I blogged about this...

I love this whimsical side of you, Patrick.

tornwordo said...

I had one of those when I was a kid. The whole perpetual motion thing is mind blowing, plus powered by water! Maybe the drinking bird is the solution to earth's energy woes.

Java said...

Here's my take on the whole simple pleasures thing. Those of us with highly intelligent, deeply thoughtful minds are fully actualized enough to allow ourselves the breathtaking pleasure of these simple things. That's my excuse anyway, and it sounds impressive if you don't look too carefully. I've been known to entertain myself by studying my hand for upwards of half an hour. Babies do that. I don't often stick it in my mouth and drool all over my hand, though, like babies do.

john said...

I think it is great that you can still find amusement in simple toys. I think it says something about your heart, how pure and good it is.

Patrick said...

Christopherc: thanks for your well-wishing, Bob and I remain very chipper.

Steven: Hm. I'd forgotten about the socks thing. Maybe I do need to get out more. Thanks for pointing that out. Have you been dancing yet?

Cooper: I wish I lived closer too. I bet the boys would love Bob, but I wonder if they'd lose interest before me? If so, what does that say about me? Nice of you to call it whimsical rather than 'infantile'. :)

Torn: I've wondered if there were any way to use this technology to generate energy, especially since Bob is still going, and all I've done is add some more water to his glass. (The latter is what prevents it from being perpetual motion, I think). To be honest, Bob is freaking me out just a bit. He seems to be speeding up.

Java: I like your analysis. I find hands fascinating, though I probably study other people's more than my own. Still, I know what you mean. Maybe we're missing out on a key element of discovery by NOT putting our hands in our mouthes. Let's try it, and check back.

John: as with Cooper, I appreciate the positive spin you put on my simple-mindedness. I like the idea that Bob shows my goodness, rather than my dimness.

Jess said...

squealing and clapping my hands like a moron when he drinks

You're adorable. I hope you know that.