May an elephant caress you with his toes

Published 7:30 am Wednesday, April 24, 2024

By Les Ferguson, Jr.

I’m not a birder. With apologies to my birder friends, I’m not old enough. I may get there one day, but that’ll be its own story.  

In the meantime, I’ve been curious about the Bird of Paradise, so I asked Mr. Google. Lo and behold, there is a flowering plant and a type of bird with the same name. Who knew? Not this guy, for sure. 

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I’m still determining whether I’ve seen the bird or the plant. Possibly, I’ve seen the plant at someone’s house without knowing or remembering. But here in Paris, Mississippi, we have squirrels, turkeys, deer, opossums, armadillos, birds, hawks, buzzards, and even the occasional fox and coyote. 

But Birds of Paradise? 

Unless a traveling zoo has an accident on Mississippi 315 near our house, I do not expect one to fly by my window. 

But there was a time when the Bird of Paradise was an essential part of American culture. Maybe saying it is essential makes it a slight exaggeration, but still. 

Back in 1965, I probably wasn’t yet singing in Sunday school. But that was the year for little Jimmy Dickens as he released his cultural classic “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose.”

Years later, as a teenager and even now as a not-quite-old-enough-to-be-a-birder gentleman, I love to sing the chorus: 

“May the bird of paradise fly up your nose. May an elephant caress you with his toes. May your wife be plagued with runners in her hose. May the bird of paradise fly up your nose.”

Those are some high falutin song lyrics. If you know this song, chances are good that you are a highly respected and well-heeled community member. Like yours truly. 

My momma always said I had great potential. I’m glad she got to see me live up to that.  I’d like you to live up to yours, too, so my wish is for you to sing the song and laugh. 

I’m not really interested in an elephant caressing you with his toes. I certainly do not wish for your wife to have runners in her hose, but that Bird of Paradise? Go ahead and snort a bit, for laughter is good for the soul. 

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

(Proverbs 17:22 CSB)

Blessings to all!