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Blowing up the birds

Posted: November 15, 2015 - 12:12am

‘Why?” he asks. We’ve been married so long that my husband expects me to finish his thoughts for him so that he can get on with the rest of the conversation.

Except for the popping of bacon grease behind his “why,” the kitchen has been silent up to now. The children have yet to thunder to the Saturday morning breakfast table.

I swig another slow slurp of coffee, then reply, “Why what?”

He responds with another question. “They don’t let people throw rice at weddings anymore, do they?”

I’m curious who he thinks polices weddings, who he believes lurks in shrubs outside of reception sites to catch the guests showering the bride and groom with illicit items like rice. But despite the amusement that line of questioning promises, I answer, “No, they don’t allow it.”

“Why?” I ask.

“Because the rice blows up birds,” he says.

I don’t even know why I’m included in his conversation with himself, so I try to bait him. “I think I’ve heard that. Or maybe I heard that it was alka seltzer. Do people throw alka seltzer at weddings?”

He doesn’t reply. He’s looking out the kitchen window. He’s gripping a plastic bag with a smidge of brown rice collected into one corner of it. Now I understand. He wants to throw the rice out the window for the birds, and he’s grappling with his conscience. “But that’s instant rice, right?” he seeks reassurance for his premeditated crime.

Can the wedding authorities tell the difference between standard rice and instant rice? I guess no one can be sure, so people are afraid to throw rice at all. They blow bubbles that sting the eyes of brides and grooms or wave sparklers that singe their new honeymoon outfits.

‘‘I don’t think guests throw instant rice at wedding receptions,” I say. “Instant rice would make the birds explode in five minutes and that would be a mess. Bits of bird bodies raining from the sky isn’t an omen of marital bliss.”

He mutters, “This is brown rice. It isn’t white rice and it isn’t instant rice.”

There are a million ways to justify a wrong deed. I add, “And you’re not at a wedding.”

As he prepares to fling the contents of the plastic bag into the yard, I interrupt, “You can’t throw that rice out the window.”

A startled, guilty expression hijacks his face. “I can’t?”

“You’re going to scatter that rice right outside this window. Then you’re going to get in your car and go do your Saturday errands. Twenty-five minutes after you leave, song birds will be going up in puffs of smoke and feathers. It’ll ruin my day. If you’re going to throw brown rice in the yard, do it somewhere that I don’t have to view the consequences during my morning coffee,” I say. I place my hand on the sash to lower the window.

My husband may inquire about odd topics but he’s a normal, red-blooded American male. Like all men, he doesn’t mind being told what to do by a woman, but he resents being told how to do it. So I close the window and go back to completing his thoughts for him.

Lucy Adams is the author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run. E-mail Lucy at lucyadams.writer@gmail.com.

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