The Magpie

I don’t know what Grandma thought I was going to do. Was there something in my genes only she was privy to? Did she think I was a nascent exhibitionist? Whatever the motivation, the threat was one I’ve never forgotten.

The Magpie is a very intelligent bird. It is reported to be able to recognize itself in a mirror. And so when my Grandmother told me that if my zipper was ever down a Magpie would see it, I believed her.

“It’ll be on you in a flash,” she said

“It has a long sharp beak,” she said.

“Mark my words,” she said.

I think she was fibbing about the beak being long, but I had no doubt that it was sharp.

I wasn’t going to take any chances. I knew I’d rather wet my pants than pee outside, and skinny dipping and streaking were out too. Streaking is a loser’s game. Who thinks they can run faster than a magpie can fly?

Years later, I’d overcome the fear, but I still kept an eye out for magpies. I was also leary of crows— they’re close relatives of the magpies. You never no what information they might share at their family reunions.

It’s a father’s duty to protect his children, to pass on important knowledge, and so I’ve recounted the story of the Magpie to my two boys. But, I think I’ve told it too many times.

“Oh no, not the Magpie story again,” they say.

“It’s important,” I say, “wisdom for the ages.”



“Just zip it.”

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1 Response to The Magpie

  1. bettyjo says:

    Oh yeah. “Grandpa’s Magpie’s gonna get ya” is just what we (and our kids, and our grandkids) say if someone needs to zip it. Some expressions are for the ages.

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