Pigeon Trouble – Conclusion

Bob:  “Ray, what do you mean, the pigeons betrayed you?”

Ray:  “Oh Bob, I used to be so much more like you – enjoying the time I spent with my wife Sophia just sitting, relaxing, tossing bread crumbs … I started to take them into my confidence.”

“You trusted the pigeons.”

“Very much!  They were like family to me.”

“But then the car, and the money …”

“… but my Sophie!  My beautiful wife Sophie!!”

“What happened to Sophie?”

“They committed the most terrible, awful, unspeakable things against her!”

“You mean … ?”

Now sobbing uncontrollably, Ray exclaims, “They raped her!  Again and again and again!!”

“Pigeons.  A flock of pigeons raped your wife.”

“They played us both for fools!  Why did I trust them?  Why would they hurt her so?”

Just then a woman in her mid-forties came up to Ray and said, “Dad, are you all right?  What’s wrong??”

“I’m sorry, Judy, sweetheart, I’m sorry I couldn’t protect her.”

“I’m afraid this is my fault,” Bob says, “ – we just got to chatting about the pigeons …”

Judy rolls her eyes and laughs a bit, “Oh Dad, not again with the pigeons!”  She then turned to Bob and said, “Don’t worry, it’s okay.  It seems lately that my mother has become a little more withdrawn, a little less responsive.  We don’t really know why – and my dad seems to think the pigeons had something to do with it.”

“The pigeons DID do it, Judy!  It was the goddamn pigeons!”

“Yes Dad, it was the pigeons … Don’t worry, Bob, he’ll be fine …”

“Bob, don’t trust them!  Kill them while you still can!”

Judy helps Ray get up slowly from the park bench; then they leave together.  Bob shrugged his shoulders and went back to feeding the pigeons.

“Huh,” Bob thought to himself, “Money stealing rapist pigeons!  I guess that is pretty ridiculous …”

One of the pigeons, though, caught Bob’s eye.  “That’s strange,” Bob thought.  He squinted back at the bird, frowned, and said, “hey, what are you lookin’ at??”

Hope v. Wish v. Expectation

To hear it from my therapist’s point of view, I have a lifelong pattern of pursuing unavailable women.  This goes all the way back to, yes, you guessed it, my relationship with my mother.

I may have been seven or eight, when, for some long forgotten reason, I was standing at my mother’s side, probably pulling on her in some way, asking, begging, pleading with her to give me a moment of time, to listen to whatever cataclysmic need was about to overwhelm me.  The way I remember it, she didn’t even respond, or if she did, it was something along the lines of, “stop it, not now, quit bothering me, can’t you see I’m busy right now?”

It was at exactly that moment that I told myself, “okay, that’s it, it’s over, I get it.  We’re done, we’re through, we’re finished.  I’m going to shut up, sit on my feelings, and never, ever bother you with anything ever again.”  At the time I really believed she would sooner or later notice that I had gone quiet, that something must be terribly wrong that I wasn’t talking to her anymore, that she finally realized just how unimportant, lonely, invisible I was feeling, and that she would hug me, tell me how sorry she was, and that she would pay more attention to me.

That never happened.  If anything, things just got worse.  The only attention I ever got from her was for being quiet, not causing trouble, not making a nuisance of myself.  “I like you when you don’t bother me,” was the message I was hearing, and since crappy attention was better than no attention at all, I said, okay – I want you to love me, so I won’t bother you.

She’s been dead for over thirty years now, this all happened well over fifty years ago, and apparently I’m still not over it.  I’ve pretty much concluded that I’ll never be loved the way I want to be loved – which, of course, is different from concluding that I’m not worth anyone’s love.  I can try to reason my way through it, tell myself that all kinds of people love me in their own way, just not the way I want them to love me.  But I can’t talk myself out of feeling ignored, belittled, push aside, dismissed.

Where Are We Going?

Sometime in the late 90’s, maybe 1998, I was visiting my sister in North Carolina.  On Sunday, we went to Mass at her nearby church.  The congregation was filled with people of all ages, but I especially noticed one young mother trying to persuade her small daughter to keep her voice down during the goings on of the Mass.  The daughter seemed to me to be perhaps four or five years old, and hadn’t really yet grasped the experience of what it meant to be in a public, solemn place.  The child’s voice was not especially loud, conversational, bored, only a little whiny – but of course, in this place, readily noticeable and not exactly the sort of attention mom wanted.

This was the case from the beginning of the service until, after the Gospel but before the homily began, the young mother decided that it was time take her daughter out from the proceedings, perhaps to the “cry room” back in the church vestibule.  As they were making their way out of the pew, and I swear, I will remember this for as long as I live, the little girl looked up at her mother, and through a few choked-back tears, asked in a somewhat cautious voice, “Where are we going?”

My sister and I joked about the matter after Mass (she too had noticed the girl’s lament), about what mom might have whispered back to her as they removed themselves from the congregation.  Of course it was too cruel to suppose that tales of fire, brimstone, and eternal damnation were being told to such a small child – their desired crippling psychological effects are much more likely to take hold once the child reaches the age of reason.

But I digress.  I remember hearing the tone in her voice, not really one of fear, I thought, but something of curiosity, something of the unknown, something – of hope.  Or maybe these are just my own projections upon this particular event.  But I like to remember it as a moment ripe for philosophical reflection and exploration:

Where are we going?  Where are any of us going?  How do we get there?