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.