The house was relatively quiet, and in a house with a 9- and 7-year-old that sounds like a lie.
It’s not; the TV was on.
We don’t watch much television, not because of some “I can’t get BBC America” snootiness, but because we’re a normal American family and can’t agree on anything. So we watch Mom and Dad-enforced hilarity.
America’s family TV night didn’t die with “The Cosby Show” in 1992, although I almost ended it in our house when I showed a rerun of “My Name is Earl.” I guess a show with a supporting character named Patty the Daytime Hooker probably wasn’t the best choice.
Sitting in the living room, the television commanding our attention like it was religious artifact, the Boy calmly said, “There’s a bird in the house.”
There are times when people say things – easy to understand things that are so alien to our way of thinking they don’t register. Like, “I’ll pick up the check,” or “there’s a bird in the house.”
We sat quietly, the guy who used to play Al Bundy on screen talking to his gorgeous Colombian wife, when our apparently useless cat walked into the living room following a hopping bird. Everyone looked at the bird for a few seconds as if it didn’t exist. Then screams filled the house like my family had just seen a serial killer in the closet dressed as a clown wearing white after Labor Day and eating a Big Mac with a knife in it.
Growing up on a farm, all sorts of critters invaded our house, which we quickly killed and tossed into a neighbor’s field. Mice, snakes, Bigfoot. Compared to those, this bird was a Disney character.
My family didn’t know it then, but as far as animal invaders went, they’d gotten off easy.
January, Covington, Tennessee: When Chad and Leigh Smith came home from vacation; they found a deer in their living room. It broke a window, trashed the downstairs, and ate all their fancy cheeses (I’m just assuming. Deer make bad houseguests).
October 2011, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: When Richard Moyer heard his dog at the back door, he let it into the house, along with a bear. Let’s let that roll around our heads for a second. A bear. The bear attacked Moyer because, well, it was a BEAR. Moyer tried to fight back, but the bear got bored, walked outside and sat on the porch. Bears, what quitters.
May 2013, Cape Town, South Africa: Baboons, the UK’s Guardian newspaper described as a “gang,” broke into a house, ransacked the kitchen, and probably pooped lots of places they weren’t supposed to. A neighbor rushed over and drove these well-fed, vicious, 50-pound primates from the house with a broom.
If it’s good enough for monkeys, it’s good enough me. I calmly scooped the bird into a dustpan with a broom and set it safely outside.
The family finally crept back into the living room like they were the survivors of a disaster movie. We finished Offutt Family TV Night (now Offutt Family Screaming Danger Night), and then everyone went to bed.
Except me. I had to keep my family safe.
Jason Offutt writes this column for The Examiner.