Up… and Down … and Up … and Down …

Okay, this was the picture I was aiming for when I accidentally grabbed Johnny. Figuratively speaking of course, sadly.

Ignore the table (not my table, thank you) in bad need of a refinishing job. It’s the bird I’m interested in here. Didn’t know that these creatures are still around, as I thought that they had died out with the rest of the tatty stuff from the ’70s. But now that I know that they’re out there again, I want one in my Christmas stocking, just for old times’ sake.

My dad had to come into Winnipeg for medical treatment when I was seven years old. Scary time for his offspring as we didn’t really understand what was happening with our dear old dad. I just knew that it had to be big stuff if he had to leave us and go to that scary, distant, ginormous city that we had heard about, but never seen … and couldn’t begin to imagine.

I have three vivid memories from that period of time. The first is saying goodbye to Dad as he walked out the door that morning. It was obvious that he was really sick and I was scared to death. The second is of lying in bed every night, making bargains with God. “Please let my dad come home. I’ll be really, really, really good for ever and ever if you just let him come home. Please, please, please, please, please. ” You know, the standard terrified kid stuff. The third memory is of his homecoming. It was a rather teary homecoming ’cause, well, my dad was the most important person in my life, and I really thought that I would never see him again. But I guess that Dad probably anticipated the tears because he brought me a little present, guaranteed to dry the salty drops and put a grin on my face. Yup, it was one of those creatures pictured above … except that the tail feather on mine was bright pink.

Not sure that I’ll find it as fascinating or amusing now, but I was a very easy to fascinate and amuse seven-year-old. That ridiculous bobbing bird gave me hours of entertainment until it finally met its demise at the hands of a younger sibling. As most of my treasures seemed to do. Sigh. Dad bought me another, but it proved to be a bit of a dud when it came to the bobbing bit. It did a great impression of an inebriated plastic birdie thingy, but not really the familiar bobbing action that was desired.

I came across one at a garage sale when Stephanie was a wee mite, so naturally snapped it up for old times’ sake. She was easy to impress at that stage, too, you see. But my purchase proved to be thoroughly lacking in the impressive department, for even the most easily impressed. It was an authentic 1970s model, so the passage of time had done bad things to the liquid inside, which was essential to the bobbing motion. That birdie wasn’t going to bob, no way, no how, no sir. Madam had already mastered the withered look of disgust by that stage, but said bobless bird took the look up a notch. And Mom’s “always able to astound” status slipped several notches.

But it’s never too late to redeem oneself. If Santa brings me one of those birdies for Christmas, I’ll make it bob. And everyone will be impressed. Or at least they had better act like they’re impressed. It’s always a good idea to humour the cook on Christmas Day, even if you don’t mean it. Those who cast a withered look at my bobbing bird will get a withered look in return. And a big empty space on their plates where the edible bird should be.

Now if only I could remember the silly little rhyme that Dad made up to match the tempo of the bird’s bobbing.

“Spizzer’s bird goes up and down
Takes just a sip so it won’t drown.

The birdie wears a funny hat
I wish that I had one like that.”

And on it went from there for several more verses, which I can’t remember now. There’s something to be said for really cheesy rhyming couplets, don’t you think? At least there is when you’re seven years old. 🙂


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