My Wife Hates Little Peckers.

She isn’t crazy about big peckers, either.

Robert Cormack
The Haven
6 min readJun 1, 2024

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Image by Prawny from Pixabay

“The early bird gets the worm. The early worm…gets eaten.” Norman Ralph Augustine

Spring has sprung and “love is in the air,” as my wife likes to say. To watch her skipping gayly across the lawn, sniffing blossoms, it’s hard to imagine she could be in any imminent danger.

Then again, this is my wife, a woman who’s actually brawled with a squirrel. So I’m not surprised to see her running back and forth across the lawn now, swatting away at something, then coming through the side door screaming “Little peckers!”

Seeing as we live in the country, it’s not like we’re surrounded by mashers or “pedal-philes,” as my wife calls them. I have to ask her — with all sincerity — “What have you done this time, Winona?”

“Then stay away from her nest. How would you like it if you gave birth, and some big hairy face was staring at you?”

“I — I just wanted to see how many babies were in the nest,” she says. “The mommy attacked me.”

“What sort of bird was it?”

“A stupid blue jay. She pecked me right in the ear.”

“Then stay away from her nest. How would you like it if you gave birth, and some big hairy face was staring at you?”

“I do not have a hairy face,” she wails, running off to check in the bathroom mirror. Hirsutism scares the crap out of her.

She comes back in a slightly calmer state.

“I wasn’t going to hurt her babies,” she says.

“Well, that’s what cats say as well,” I explain. “Then they grab one and chew its head off. Birds don’t know if you’re a chewer or not, honey. I’m not even sure myself, to tell you the truth.”

“I am not a chewer,” she says.

That’s true, of course. Winona follows a strict diet that mostly consists of peanut butter and melba toast, neither requiring much chewing. In fact, in her old age (fast approaching), I’m sure she can gum both.

She figures if she moves any slower than she does now, she’ll be mowed down by even smaller birds like chickadees, sparrows and mockingbirds.

Old age scares the crap out of Winona, too, by the way. She figures if she moves any slower than she does now, she’ll be mowed down by even smaller birds like chickadees, sparrows and mockingbirds.

I’m sure that’s what’s going through her mind now as she munches away on peanut butter and melba toast.

“Birds imagine all women are chewers, honey,” I continue. “Were you grinding your teeth when you looked in the nest?”

“No I wasn’t,” she says. “And who’s she calling me a chewer? She’s a pecker.”

I think her anger is about to turn to tears. I saw the same thing when she started that brawl with the squirrel. She stomped her feet, saying, “Go on, get! Get out of my garden!”

The squirrel stood up on his hind legs. I swear he was making fists. Winona wisely backed away. Pugilist squirrels aren’t to be messed with. They can jump really high, Winona can’t.

“I should call animal control,” she’s saying now.

“What are they’re going to do?”

“Can’t they arrest her?”

“Winona, they don’t have handcuffs small enough. Besides, that’s not what animal control does. At best, they’ll tell you to leave the blue jay alone. Give it a wide berth, in other words. Perhaps stay inside.”

“I’m not staying inside for a stupid bird.”

“I don’t know what else to suggest, dear heart.”

“But you are lying down.”

“Well, I’m not taking this lying down — “

“But you are lying down.”

Winona often eats her peanut butter and melba toast lying down.

“Well, I’m going to do something,” she says.

“Like what?”

“I’ll take pictures — no, a video,” she says. “ I’ll send it to one of those programs where birds and animals chase people.”

“America’s Funniest Videos?”

“Exactly,” she says, going outside with her phone.

She crosses the front yard with a stepladder, getting up to the tree limb where the nest is located. Just as she starts filming, the blue jay comes swooping down.

Winona’s off the ladder, running about, phone flying through the air. I hold the side door open as she comes roaring past me.

(She claims her hair is dreadful and she won’t be seen in public looking like a gorgon).

“I’m never going outside again,” she squeals, which isn’t likely since she has a hair appointment at eleven. She disappears in the bedroom, returning in full battle gear, meaning a hoodie (she claims her hair is dreadful and she won’t be seen in public looking like a gorgon).

Gorgons, by the way, were three sisters in Greek mythology who had snakes for hair, and could kill people just by staring at them. Winona’s hair, on the other hand, is the result of bad conditioner. I don’t know if she can kill anyone by staring. She does give a good skunk eye, though.

Heading out, she zigzags in true commando fashion, getting to her car without being pecked. As she pulls out of the driveway, she sticks out her middle finger. She comes back two hours later with less gorgon-ish hair and a sense of vindication.

“I gave that blue jay the finger on my way out,” she says.

“I saw that.”

“My phone’s still on the lawn somewhere.”

“I heard it ringing.”

“Why didn’t you go out and answer?”

“Probably telemarketers.”

“If you loved me, you’d get my phone.”

“Fine, honey,” I say, “I’ll get your phone. But let’s be clear about one thing. You’ve agitated that bird. Whatever happens to me is a direct result of you being, well, a snoop.”

The blue jay is there in the branches. It lets out a warning chirp.

I leave her making another batch of peanut butter and melba toast. Out on the lawn, I see her at the kitchen window, munching away, probably expecting me to be pecked to death. The blue jay is there in the branches. It lets out a warning chirp.

“Easy, big fella,” I say, even though my voice is high enough to join a boy’s choir. I grab the phone off the grass and slowly start backing away.

The phone starts ringing.

“What?” I shout into the receiver.

“Did you get it?” I hear Winona’s voice.

“You can clearly see I got it, Winona.”

“Just making sure.”

“You think there are other phones out here on the lawn?”

“Don’t yell at me.”

I tell her she shouldn’t make phone calls for unnecessary things. “You’re a big meanie,” she says.

I come back in the house. Winona’s sitting cross-armed in her chair. “You didn’t have to yell,” she says. I apologize. I tell her she shouldn’t make phone calls for unnecessary things. “You’re a big meanie,” she says.

“I got your phone, didn’t I?” I say.

“You’re still a big meanie.”

“Well, I’m sorry for being a big meanie. I was dealing with an irate bird. She was giving me the skunk eye.”

She softens a bit.

“You were very brave,” she says.

“Damn straight.”

Winona gets up and looks out the living room window. The blue jay’s on the lawn. “She’s staring at me,” Winona says.

“Just leave it, honey.”

I swear that bird’s giving Winona the skunk eye. Now they’re giving each other the skunk eye.

But she doesn’t, of course. She gives it the middle finger. Then she sticks out her tongue. I swear that bird’s giving Winona the skunk eye. Now they’re giving each other the skunk eye.

“Pecker,” my wife says.

“Cack,” the blue jay replies.

At this point, politically speaking, they’re at loggerheads. Battle lines have been drawn. A good husband would intercede at this point. I’m more of a fair to middling one. I decide to take a nap instead.

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Robert Cormack
The Haven

I did a poor imitation of Don Draper for 40 years before writing my first novel. I'm currently in the final stages of a children's book. Lucky me.