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Point of View: Harken, ’Tis a Tufted Towhee

Thu, 05/23/2024 - 12:15

Our editor said last week he was unsure whether the birdcall he had heard was that of a tufted titmouse or an eastern towhee, which reminded me that I had once conflated the two with such authority — “It’s a tufted towhee” — that Mary, ordinarily skeptical, did not gainsay me until she caught me not long afterward identifying “a completely different bird as a tufted towhee.”

“Well, if there isn’t a tufted towhee, there should be,” I said when corrected, mindful of the editor who, when a person he’d quoted denied he’d ever said what the editor had said he’d said, harumphed: “If you didn’t say it, you should have.”

One likes to speak with finality every now and then, especially if one doesn’t know what one is talking about — the upside, of course, being that if you’re of middling intelligence and are middlingly curious, there’s always something to learn.

So, what did I learn this week? Actually two things: to wit, from The Times, that Audubon “more than once described birds that almost certainly never existed,” and, two, that the L.V.I.S., to which I’d been directed by a fellow tennis player, who said I could get a pair of lightweight pants there for 10 bucks, didn’t have any with a 35-inch waist. I did find some in J. Crew’s Coastal Classics collection, however, and soon, once they’re taken up an inch, I’ll be able to go out again in society.

With my new pants, Princess Di tie, white shirt, and dry-cleaned blue blazer on, I’ll tell them at my induction into the Press Club of Long Island’s Hall of Fame a month hence that I largely owe my success to a mandatory seventh-grade typing class in Edgeworth, Pa., which has enabled me to quickly transcribe and perfect scribbled notes; to bad hearing, which has made me a good listener, and to a well-developed craniovertebral joint that has allowed me to watch balls go back and forth without pain for 45 years.

In closing, I’ll ask the attendees to forgive me for thinking of sports writing as a spiritual calling.

To be assigned to participate in the dance of life and to talk with others about what really inspires them has kept me nimble, has kept me connected, and has kept me inspired.

And that, I’ll tell them, is all I have to say about that.


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