Monday, May 19, 2014

The search is over

Stella the parakeet is an excellent mimic and her vocabulary is growing rapidly.  Her favorite phrase to repeat is "pretty birdy!" followed by a low wolf whistle.  It was amusing and pleasant to hear her repeat our words until the day she began repeating them while vigorously humping her favorite mirror.  Then it turned a little weird.

Stella's "Pretty birdy pretty birdy you're such a pretty birdy" is now accompanied by vicious cage shaking as the mirror gets what's coming to it.  If we have visitors over, I try to distract her by waving towels at her cage, "Stella, stop it, my God, you're in the middle of the kitchen and I'm serving appetizers!" but she will not be swayed from her mission of making love to that pretty, pretty birdy.

Lucien has asked lots of questions and I've answered them honestly.  I think it's great for him to have a front row seat to the birds and the bees -- the bird part anyway -- over his cereal bowl in the morning.  The teacher has already called to report Lucien told her, "my bird wants to have sex with herself all the time" but after my explanation we had a good laugh. 

Stella is a true Narcissus. It also appears she's reaching sexual maturity.  It also seems fairly obvious Stella is a male.  We're not changing her name, though.  I don't think she'll care, doubt she'll even notice because she's so busy -- *bang bang bang bang* -- over there. 

Alex and I took part in a scavenger hunt over the weekend.  We were teamed up with dear old friends who live in Tacoma.  Our team name was Panda Lovegods.  We dressed in black and white, chewed on bamboo, dragged a few stuffed pandas around on leashes.  Nobody on the streets gave us a second glance because such antics are par for the course in Seattle.

The scavenger hunt brought out the seething competitive side that exists in all four of us.  We're pretty laid back people in daily living but something happened as soon as the competition began.  Alex was our driver and was so amped up he didn't break just some of the driving rules, he broke ALL the rules as we careened around the city screaming. 

Our friend and teammate, Tacoma Dad, said last year they were paired with a much less competitive couple who, instead of rushing from clue to clue, insisted on moseying.  He said by the end of the evening the woman was crying and begging him to slow down, then telling him he had ruined the entire evening for her and it wasn't fun anymore.  He tried to tell her, "There's no crying in scavenger hunts, hippie!" but it didn't get her to move any faster.

This year's hunt led us to parks, laundromats, a mambo dance lesson, and a karaoke bar where we were forced to perform Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer."  It's tough to get the crowd on your side when you're singing "The Boxer." They all stood there, bored, arms crossed like "Who are these clowns with pandas on leashes singing a snoozefest song in the middle of our party?" 

And why is the one guy dressed like the Hamburglar?

One stop had us throwing darts at balloons in a park.  There may have been one errant dart accidentally thrown at a dude on a bike but thankfully he didn't get hurt.  As an aside, is it legal to throw darts in public parks?  Because it shouldn't be.

My favorite task was reproducing the Miro painting currently hanging outside the Seattle Art Museum --

The art museum is where we pulled ahead of the other teams thanks to exquisite teamwork.  Tacoma Mom drew the shapes, the rest of us intertwined our arms at odd angles and climbed over each others backs to get them colored in. We were like a writhing ball of pythons clutching markers.  A group of tourists took pictures of us.  "It's true, Seattle people are so odd!" they may be telling friends back in Saint Louis right now.

At the second to last stop, things got rough.  The clue handed to us at the pitstop was a bag of fortune cookies.  As we ran to our car, which was parked in front of a fire hydrant obviously because anything to win, I opened my fortune cookie, pulled out the fortune and popped the cookie into my mouth.  I couldn't help it; fortune cookies are delicious.

Suddenly Tacoma Dad said, "Guys, there are two pieces of paper in the cookies! Find both of them!" and my heart sank.  "Uh-oh," I thought looking down at the solo piece of paper in my lap, "I'm pretty sure I'm eating a clue."

Indeed I was.  I fished the second piece of paper out of my mouth but it was no longer legible.  We hoped to figure out the clue using just the other three but those clues put together read, "GO....TO....PIER..."  and Tacoma Dad yelled, "Dammit, MJ, you ate the pier number!" We all agreed it was the most important piece to the puzzle and a most unfortunate circumstance.

We got back on track but then things got worse. We really botched it at our last stop after having been in first place for a long, long time.  In a catastrophic misinterpretation (with just a touch of laziness), we gave the tickets we were supposed to use for ourselves on Seattle's Great Wheel to a passing couple.  They were crabby people and in retrospect probably did not deserve our gift --

It's a long story.
We were wrong.

Immediately after it happened we received a phone call from the organizers telling us even though we were in first place and technically were finished, we were going to finish as "incomplete" because we hadn't completed our final task.  Our dream of victory was dashed, it was over. 

We walked back to the car (parked in a "police vehicle only" spot obviously) with heads hung low.  We are all buoyant by nature, however, so soon decided we won in our hearts and were the best scavenger hunt team ever.  Then we went to a bar to kill time while waiting for the other loser teams to finish.  We took pictures of the animal puppets we obtained earlier in the evening drinking beer because what else are you going to do with them?

We're going to do the hunt again next year, only this time I'm not going to eat any clues and we're going to make sure we don't do any wrong things.

Alex dozed off to sleep next to me later that night -- but suddenly he sat bolt upright in bed and said with a hint of panic to his voice, "Are you sure it's OK to leave the car here???!!!"  I smoothed his hair and spoke soothingly, "It's OK, baby, it's's over....go back to sleep....hush....hush....."

Competitive scavenger hunting does things to people,


  1. I would be a complete and utter disaster in that situation because my competitive side would COMPLETELY take over- i'd turn on my team mates- lose sight of the fact it is a game and suppose to be fun and only to be told you get an incomplete...that organizer would be in mortal danger....I am glad you had fun and yes there is always next year-I LOVE fortune cookies -one time I bought an industrial size bag in this small fortune cookie manufacturing place in Chinatown san Francisco and ate the whole thing myself...I love them-not that it is post related but just another little piece of g....hope the book is coming along-

  2. Man I love you guys! Why aren't there more fun people maniacally scavenging for things in my life, dammit. And by more I mean any. I'm gonna sit here downing a box of fortune cookies and pretend that I'm hunting for clues...

  3. Some years back, we had a parrot who was a great mimmick (especially of weird noises) and her cage was in our bedroom... I'll leave it at that.

    Never a good idea to eat clues in a scavenger hunt, darling. Don't you just break the cookie in two and pull out the fortune before you eat it?

  4. You get to have all the fun, MJ! that scavenger hunt sounds so cool!

    When my son was young, I too answered his questions honestly. Then, when he was in fifth grade, the hamsters in his classroom became very friendly one day. His teacher told me he was the only kid in the class who realized what was happening, and he started laughing so hard she had to send him to the hall just so she could teach.

    Good luck with Lucien!

    I too like the exclamation mark!