Tag Archives: fighting

What’s size got to do with it?

The world of a little girl is a scary one, whether she knows it or not. Too often young girls are (the ones) preyed on inside their homes and out. I am glad that, no matter how un-delightful my childhood was, I was for the most part, left physically unscathed. Given the odds of a girl being physically or sexually abused, that is saying something.

I was raised to believe the world was a dangerous place, but it was all very vague; shadow monsters, not much I could hang my hat on. Even so, no one taught me how to defend myself, physically or with my wits. The minimal advice my parents gave me, when I spoke of being bullied or otherwise having problems with other kids, had little to do with my life. (Oh geez, I wish I could remember who said – Margaret Atwood? – that children look little and unthreatening to adults but to other children, they are life-size. Or words to that effect.)

There was one time when I was in grade school that my mother took us aside and rather seriously said if we ever saw anyone watching us playing in our large back yard, we should come tell her. Much later I learned that a man had exposed himself to a female classmate in the woods behind our house, hence the obscure warning. Imagining that incident bothered me for years. It still does. Had I been the child victim, I would not have known what to do or how to react.

Not too surprisingly, big men scared me. It was their sheer size, the booming voices, the brash manner. That’s all it took. A tiny thing before adolescence, I shrank easily. I’m told I was frightened of the captain on a ferry boat ride we took as a family when I was probably 3 or 4. I don’t remember this at all. The uniform – there must have been a uniform – probably was a factor. (I’m not saying I was afraid of uniforms, just that a uniform likely added to the intimidation factor. Like fire men, police men, soldiers.)

Although there were myriad unpleasant incidents, I never was beat up by other kids. I do remember a particular time at the local swimming pool, a girl and her friend said they were going to beat me up when I left the pool. I was so scared. I didn’t even know what it meant. Thankfully, they didn’t follow through. In separate incidents, a boy punched me in the stomach once and another snipped off a piece of my hair, both inexplicably and with no context. A pack of older girls once dragged me around the school yard. (Aren’t children swell?)

My sister (closest in age) and I tussled occasionally, but nothing all that serious. We would have caught holy hell if we bruised or bloodied each other. And neither one of us knew squat about how to fight. (My sister would tell you we fought each other with wooden ping pong paddles but I will tell you that once and only once, we aimlessly swatted the things at each other, not even making bodily contact.) It would never have even occurred to me to pull someone’s hair (which apparently is a quite popular pastime for females of all ages).

When I was older, I observed retrospectively that most of the men I’d dated or had relationships with were typically just a bit larger than I was in size, i.e., not big men. However, that turned. I think it had something to do with me and the surety I felt within myself. I’d become a (fairly) decent judge of character and size alone wasn’t going to be an intimidation factor (consciously or not). As a grown woman, I had a relationship with a man who was 6’6″ and pushing 300 pounds. He had dark hair and a beard and struck a very imposing figure. (Naturally he rode a motorcycle too.) However, I never felt physically threatened by this man. Whatever my issues were with him (why I stopped seeing him), they were utterly unrelated to his size.

What’s very interesting to me is that the men who have physically threatened me or tried to or intimated they might, were smaller men, again men a bit larger than me (and one smaller). I can think of three specific people, none of which cut an imposing figure. I’m not sure what to make of that, but it’s given me something to think about over the years. It does seem there is little correlation between size and threat, which is not to say there aren’t lots of men who use their superior size to intimidate the women in their lives. Rather, my larger point is that there isn’t a direct cause and effect between a man’s physical size and what goes on in his psyche in terms of women.

Today on “As the Hummingbird Turns, um, Flies”

Until I started regularly putting out and tending a seasonal hummingbird feeder several years ago, I had no idea that these amazing little birds squeak. That’s right, they emit a sort of happy, squeaking sound at the feeder. Not all the time, but once in awhile. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be an educational, ornithologically correct post, as I doubt you want to read that, and also I don’t really feel like looking up facts.

The squeaky noise sounds like their version of, “OH-MY-GOD-THIS-IS-SO-GOOD, HAPPY, HAPPY, MORE, MORE.” That’s pretty much what I too say about my food in human-speak. It’s really cute. Not what I say, what the birds say squeak. The source of their pleasure is straight, unadulterated sugar water – no wonder they fly around all hyped up. Who else gets that?! (Now that I think about it, if I looked into the matter, I’d probably find a sugar water controversy afoot somewhere online not unlike the low-key debate over regular bird feeding. But I’m not going to look.) Not only do they get sugar water, the concoction is supposed to be made extra strong at the beginning of the season in order to hook attract them. Although once they’ve found a open buffet, they’ll return in following years to the same location. Now that’s a GPS, baby.

Unfortunately, hummingbirds are not the only ones interested in sugar water. So besotted are ants with the sweet liquid, that a bunch of ’em will go right through the feeding ports into the cylinder. Not only are appetite-ruining ants swarming the outside, but dearly departed comrades (“We told them to just take one drink and step aside, but nooooo, they didn’t listen”) are floating inside. The hummingbirds are, reasonably, put off by this spectacle on their meal and shy away, which is probably just as well because I worry about them getting ants lodged in their tiny throats and choking. If birds choke. I tried various homemade foils, which didn’t work, so I caved and bought a rather ingenious ant moat (that’s not what the manufacturer calls it, but that’s what it is) that sits above the feeder and prevents the ant coalition from reaching it. Ants. Don’t. Swim.

Here’s the feeder and ant moat set-up: 
I don’t know why it has all those ports; I believe I saw two birds feeding nicely together at the same time precisely once (and that was probably only because the male wanted some hot lady hummingbird action that night). Far and away what do the magic birds do most of the time? Fight. Seems my lovely little friends are very territorial – doesn’t matter how much liquid chow is available – ain’t nobody else gonna have it. Mine, mine, mine. One bird, who apparently has had enough or isn’t hungry at the moment, will sometimes sit quietly in a nearby tree or shrub and wait for a competitor to approach the feeder and then fly in, all “I GOT YOU” and chase it off. “So what if I’m not playing with it right now. Any minute, I might want it.

Sometimes I feel like I should be able to teach them to share, as if I could convince the mini-birds of the silliness in their greedy ways. Near the end of the season, with hundreds if not thousands of miles of flight ahead of them, when you’d think they’d want to be carb-loading, their fighting seems especially ill-advised. By then, though, I can only offer a head-shaking, wry word: “You’re burning daylight, little bird. When you fall out of the sky from exhaustion somewhere over Texas, whose fault will that be?”