The “Pat” Chapter
An unexpected result of collecting these pictures is figuring out what to do with them. Where they could go to continue their story? It seemed unfair to me that I would be the only one to have them, so I decided that each piece of art would have a guardian. A guardian that would understand the true significance of the picture.
I discovered that my good friend Pat is an ornithologist and can pick out a bird call from 300 paces, as well as determine the bird’s sex. I’d known him for 15 years, yet I never knew of his fascinating connection with feathered animals.
One of Zoë’s pictures Jack had given me was a woodpecker, so it only seemed right it should reside with another birder. I drove to Pat’s house in Redding and delivered the Woodpecker.
On the way home, I stopped at my dad’s house. He knew I was going up there, and he knew I was working hard to frame the Woodpecker and deliver it to Pat. While I told him about my trip,
he interrupted and asked me if I knew where the Woodpecker came from. I had no idea. He revealed that it comes from the cover of the book Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins. He told me that he and Zoë would pass this book back and forth with suggestions to open it to chapter five where the other would find a joint and a particularly raunchy sex scene, or handwritten notes next to a lengthy discussion about birth control from an anarchist male’s perspective.
The Woodpecker picture is an everlasting memento of the courtship between my dad and Zoë. As my dad told me the story of this picture, again I found myself awkwardly between two people and a memory that only they would ever share. His story faded into an audible smile, and for a moment it seemed he was back in that room with Zoë, bantering with his future mate about the idiosyncrasies of the female anatomy, hoping to impress her with his wit.