A Bird in the Bush:

by | Mar 28, 2024 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Nevertheless, my experience turned the meme on its head

The two men each pulled up a stool to the counter of the strangely named Bar Norway. There was nothing remotely Scandinavian about the establishment, being as French as every other place in the town.

“Deux Affli’ demis s’il vous plait,” Marcel said to the owner.

“So, how have you been? I must say you’re looking better of late,” his friend Pierre asked, acknowledging the other man’s generosity.

“Ah, well, there’s a reason for that,” the first countered, taking both chalices of beer  from the woman. “Shall we go, Dehors?”

“Why not? It’s a lovely day, and it’s a proper sun-trap here.” His friend concurred. They took their places at a table on the terrace which was indeed bathed in the midday warmth of a Brittany spring. “Well, spill the beans. I need to know your secret,” Pierre continued taking a sip from the frosted glass.

“There is a well known proverb, ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.’  Literally, it means it is better to be content with what you have than to risk everything by seeking to get more.” Marcel began, mimicking his mate’s action. He smacked his lips and sucked the froth from his moustache.

“Alright, so that is self explanatory. We have all craved that little extra. A better car, bigger house or that special item of clothing. The proverb is aimed at that desire and the risk or sacrifice in obtaining that extra piece of luxury. Is it not?” Pierre conceded.

“Yes. Nevertheless, my experience turned the meme on its head; that is. ‘A bird in the bush is worth more than two in the hand.’” Marcel declared.

“How so?” His friend asked, leaning forward with curiosity.

“Well, to extend the metaphor; having experienced the company of two beautiful feathered creatures in my life and losing them both; I was later given the opportunity to observe a particularly lovely example, in the far off branches of a tall tree,” Marcel added. Pierre laughed at his pal’s description of recent romantic encounters, then corrected himself.

“I was sorry to hear about the breakup and the loss of your friend. Nevertheless, would you care to elaborate? They were beautiful creatures, sure enough.” There was a green tinge to the end of Pierre’s response.

“Indeed they were. None moreso, or so I thought. Until that is, my recent distant encounter.” Marcel continued, draining half his glass of its contents. Although pleasant, the heat seemed to create a thirst in him.  “First of all, though, of the two in hand – not a good idea. All they do in return for food, shelter, love and attention, is turn on each other. They vie for your favours and despise the slightest regard you give to the other. They systematically drain you of emotion and resources in return for the minimum of affection.” He had a look of thoughtful melancholy and chased the last dregs of his beer down his throat. Pierre got up and entered the bar.

“Don’t go away. I’m hooked,” he turned and called to his friend. “La meme choses, Madame?” he asked of the proprietor. Carrying the two full glasses outside, he sat opposite Marcel and waited in anticipation.

“Eventually, when they’ve got what they want, you don’t see them for a cloud of feathers. One disappears without a trace and the other finds a mate. Meanwhile, you’re left a human shell, dreaming of what might have been. You regret the fact that you didn’t wring the neck of one of them; probably because you couldn’t choose between the two.” Marcel took three huge gulps of the potent beer. His pal began to worry that he wouldn’t be able to finish his story.

“That’s a bit extreme. Oh no wait, the metaphor. Steady, Affli’ is strong stuff. Carry on.” Pierre was torn between his friend’s sobriety and his own curiosity.

“Presently. Just as you’ve given up hope, a small anonymous dot appears in that far off tree. At first, it’s a tiny mark on the topmost branch, with no shape or sound to speak of.” Marcel’s expression changed from cynical man of the world, to lovelorn teenager.

“I see. So romance is in the air for our poor narrator?” Pierre asked, a glint in his eye.

“Patience, mon ami,” Marcel snapped. “Speaking of which, with restraint and the passage of time, both absent with respect to the previous examples, this little passerine hops nearer, occupying a bough close enough to make it out. The subsequent view is very easy on the eye. Then there’s the song; as pretty as the tiny creature itself, soothing your worn out mind and relaxing it. The other two are placed at the back of your newly chilled brain.” The man’s tongue became more creative with each ingestion of the formidable ale.

“I think I’m following you. Where is this enigmatic icon?” Pierre inquired of his friend

“I’ll come to that. You started this conversation,” Marcel interjected, quaffing another several fingers of beer. “This tiny, wild warbler gives but never takes. So much so, that you pay it more attention than you ever did its so-called tame counterparts. Eventually, a level of trust exists in the minute heart of the bird, that you begin to communicate. It could have easily hopped onto your outstretched hand, had you placed a few grains in the palm.” At this point, several people on the terrace joined the two men. One of them, a young woman in her mid twenties, spoke up.

“What a beautiful description. Are you a writer?” She recoiled in embarrassment at her outburst. Marcel gave her a lop-sided smile which was tempered by his words.

“Nevertheless, mademoiselle, trust works both ways and that scenario never arises. The bird comes and goes as it pleases. After all the tree belongs neither to you nor her, being a neutral, safe place in which to coexist.” His oration now resembled that of a polished actor. The small crowd gasped in unison.

“I guess you’d better continue,” Pierre muttered, seeming to resent their company.

“Before long, the paired bird returns briefly, boasting about its beautiful nest and handsome partner. You humour it and are thankful for the lucky escape.” By this time the audience was in double figures, some relaying to others what they’d missed. Pierre laughed out loud.

“She did indeed! I remember it well. At the time I said it would never last.” He shouted above the murmuring crowd. To a man, they turned to him with incredulity. He finished his beer and got up.

“My shout. Stay here and keep this lot entertained,” Marcel slurred. The beer was taking hold. He placed a hand on his pal’s shoulder and pushed him back into his seat. He returned with two full glasses of the amber liquid then disappeared to the toilet. There was a collective groan from the crowd. In Marcel’s absence, the throng became animated, seemingly debating the salient points of the story. Marcel returned, tugging on his flies and the audience hushed.

“Tell us. What ever happened to the other creature, the one which disappeared without trace?” Pierre shouted above the silence. He received another collective stare from the mass.

“Well,” his friend responded, with Shakesperian aplomb. “As for the other ‘Bird in the Hand,’ you rue the day you placed those few grains in your palm and allowed it to land there. It gobbled them up and scarpered, leaving your heart as empty as your hand” His words were greeted with enthusiastic nods from his, by now, adoring fans. Pierre clapped his hands and was immediately joined by the others.

“Bravo! Quelle histoire! Encore!” They called.

Just then, there was a faint ping from Marcel’s pocket. He pulled the handset from his jeans and smiled.

“If you don’t mind, I must go now. I have some bird watching to do. Where did I put those binoculars?” He smiled. With that, he emptied his glass and left.


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