The Tweet, the Whole Tweet, and Nothing But the Tweet
Mornings find us surfing the news. Same ol’. A tweet a day keeps the real news at bay. I somehow think of Robert Benchley, time-worn member of the New York Algonquin group, along with Dorothy Parker and others. I once reveled in that brand of humor, so sly, redolent, and droll. Parker could wound with a feather and Benchley, well, Benchley never went over with my college students. Too effete, maybe just too silly?
Still. I xeroxed copies of his “Decent into the Alimentary Canal,” and “The Tooth, the Whole Tooth, and Nothing but the Tooth” for my students years ago, both almost surreal in their comedy–harmless alternative truths? I wonder: would Benchley have tweeted if he could?
This morning I spy a Pyrrhuloxia across the way atop an ocotillo fronting my neighbor’s yard. Desert Cardinal is the common name. He is stunning in his red top notch (notably a male), buff back, and scarlet tipped wings, breast, and underparts. At 8 and a half inches in length, he can make a sizable show in neighboring mesquite and woodlands, navigating branches and thorns. This one’s looking for a female, you can tell from his “tweet.” He is not afraid to call attention to himself.
Described in my National Geographic bird book as a “liquid whistle,” his song is “shorter and thinner” than the Northern Cardinal and his call is a “more metallic chink.”
Benchley would have known the Northern Cardinal but not this guy. Here in the desert we revel in such songs and calls and whistles to start our days, such a welcome diversion from “the news.” And this playful “tweet,” surely the most authentic, happy-making, and notably original of them all.