Sometimes I wondered if something might be wrong with the old man, aside that is from his being a curser, a farter, and a petty tyrant. Something, I mean, instead, wrong that might explain these “behaviors” as mere epiphenomenon of the phenomenon itself, what ever that might be. Many theories as to the source of his sudden explosions or spasms of rage were bruited about over the years. That he had a “bad temper” did really not get at a cause and didn’t either really do justice to the phenomenon.
A kind of genetic cause was hinted at. Over the years, I became familiar in larger family circles with the phrase “Tingle Tantrums.” At one family reunion, one of the non-Tingles put up a sign, I have heard, saying “No Tingle Tantrums.” These tantrums or fits were then generally recognized, acknowledged, and were in part to be excused as something to which those who had any admixture of Tingle blood might be prone. When struck by a tantrum a Tingle would spit, sputter, stutter, curse till he turned red, throw things, and generally exhibit signs of a person about to blow his top.
More locally, at different times, the old lady thought the old man had high blood pressure, low blood pressure, a thyroid problem, a digestive disorder, diabetes and hyperglycemia.
I have no idea myself. But I found most curious his attitude towards the pigeons that one of my younger brothers had decided to keep. I don’t know how many there were, maybe a half dozen, and they lived in a pretty large cage that hung, appended to a rafter, over the deck that was the roof of the hole where I stayed. I did not like these pigeons much, though I generally like animals, because they looked ill at ease so cooped up and they were quite dirty with their droppings and all.
At any case, when the sun came up, the pigeons would wake up. Many birds it seems sleep at night just as humans do. They would tuck their heads under their wings and stand on one leg the night through (though people do not do this). Come dawn, they woke and began to converse with each other in friendly morning greetings. Pigeons do make a noise, but nothing like your cackling chickens.
Their sounds never woke me, but on more than one occasion I heard the kitchen sliding screen door squeak open, my father’s footsteps pounding on my roof, and then I would hear the old man yelling at the pigeons, “Shut up.” I would lie there then wide awake very aware now that the pigeons were talking up a storm. I grew tense fearing another eruption. And indeed, at least, on one occasion it came; the old man returned, bellowing in fury at the pigeons to shut up and this time shook and rattled their cage.
Now, I know I am dense in some ways, but even I had the sense to see that screaming at pigeons to shut up and rattling their cage was bound to have the opposite effect of shutting the birds up. True, for an instant of a moment, dead silence reigned but then the pidgeons would launch into a panic striken discourse. And then I would hear from inside the house, the old man screaming in a fearsome way for the fucking birds to shut up.
How could one become so irritated at the sounds of birds that one would forsake all reason and logic in one’s attempt to get them to shut up?
I don’t know what was wrong. But I know it frightened me.