My Wife Doesn’t Know Mr. Ed.

Or why squirrels, bees, and possibly hummingbirds hate her.

Robert Cormack
Human Parts
Published in
7 min readOct 24, 2023

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Photo by Mikael Kristenson on Unsplash

A horse is a horse, of course, of course...” Theme song from Mr. Ed.

There’s no simple way to describe my wife’s daily habits. Any attempt would have the entire psychiatric community scratching their heads. I’ve seen squirrels scratch their heads, usually because they can’t remember where they’ve buried anything. My wife, Winona, is entirely squirrel-ish in this regard. She’s chronic.

It’s like when she’s looking for her knitting needles. Her head-scratching is identical to that of a squirrel. They both rummage about in a great panic, both saying — in their own feral language, of course — “I know I put it here somewhere.” Then there’s more head-scratching, and the accusatory look at anything passing (which usually means me).

Between lost knitting needles, car keys, medicines and, well, just about everything, it’s amazing she has time for anything else.

If you really want to understand the foraging habits of squirrels, follow my wife around for a day. Between lost knitting needles, car keys, medicines and, well, just about everything, it’s amazing she has time for anything else.

On one occasion, when she’s gardening, she suddenly stood up, holding one of those Scrunchie hair thingies all covered in dirt. “How did this get here?” she said.

Well, logically, it probably fell off her head at some point, but she’s more likely to think it’s aliens, despite most depictions showing them to be bald.

She’s also convinced squirrels steal her things and bury them. Squirrels may think the same about her. She’s always moving plants around. Why not their nuts?

This has made them sworn enemies. Squirrels think the garden is theirs. My wife is absolutely certain it’s hers. One squirrel, Rocky, actually challenged her to a fight. It had both sides glaring at each other, my wife stamping her foot, Rocky telling her to bring it on (in squirrel language, which sounds like horking).

I’m sure if she dabbed a bit behind her ears, Rocky would turn from pugilist into a furry cute version of Rudolph Valentino.

Not understanding one hork from another, my wife retreated indoors, heading straight for the peanut butter jar. I’m sure if she dabbed a bit behind her ears, Rocky would turn from pugilist into a furry cute version of Rudolph Valentino. But she won’t share her peanut butter with anyone — myself included.

That doesn’t bother me at all. I hate the smell of peanut butter, despite my wife calling it the “perfect food.” I take exception on the basis of, well, on the basis of Mr. Ed.

“Did you know,” I tell her, “they used peanut butter to make Mr. Ed look like he was talking? I think it killed him. Do you want to end up like Mr. Ed, a glorified pack animal doing anything for audience ratings?”

“Who’s Mr. Ed?” she asks, munching on peanut butter and Melba toast.

“You don’t remember Mr. Ed?” I say. “It was a series in the sixties.”

“Must’ve missed it.”

“Mr. Ed was a talking horse.”

“Casper was a talking ghost.”

“That was a cartoon, Winona. Mr. Ed was a real horse.”

“I love horses.”

“Dab that peanut butter behind your ears and they’ll love you, too.”

“They can have a carrot. The peanut butter’s mine.”

“You’re going to turn into Mr. Peanut.”

“No I’m not.”

“And pray tell why not?”

“Because it’s the perfect food.”

“I think barley is the perfect food.”

“Peanuts.”

I tell her she’s going to end up with a block of peanut butter the size of Toledo in her intestinal tract. She says that’s impossible. She takes these bomb-powered laxatives. It’s a heartstopper waiting for them to kick in. When they do, she’ll run to the washroom, pulling down her sweatpants as she goes. The next minutes are a combination of curses and cliff-hangers. When she emerges, she’ll say “I’d stay out of there if I were you.” She doesn’t have to tell me twice.

The chair itself is a travesty in her eyes, upholstered, as she says, in the most ungodly pattern imaginable.

The rest of the evening is spent with her in repose, curled up in her chair like a spider she’s just smashed with her Swiffer. The chair itself is a travesty in her eyes, upholstered, as she says, in the most ungodly pattern imaginable.

I bought it on Buy and Sell. A bargain, if I do say so myself. Not that she cares one way or the other. It’s comfortable. She’s the Comfort Queen and has taken to it the way I’m sure Mr. Ed took to hay.

The chair is her inner sanctum, even if she can barely see the television.

“Why don’t you sit on the couch next to me?” I ask.

“I keep sliding off,” she says. “It’s the leather. Too slippery.”

I’ve never slid off, and I see the television perfectly. She asks me to describe car chases. I thought I’d kill her when we watched Ronin. It’s all car chases.

My wife also has a serious problem outside with dandelions. During our courtship, when I let the dandelions run wild (it’s the first food in spring for the bees), she threatened to pull them all up with her weeding tool.

“What about the bees?” I asked, but she was already out there, pulling up the dandelions and half the lawn in the process. Then she was back inside, grabbing a bottle of vinegar, pouring some into each dandelion crater.

We live in an agricultural area, yet pollination — and its benefits — seem to have escaped them.

Cars honked in passing, giving her two thumbs up. We live in an agricultural area, yet pollination — and its benefits — seem to have escaped these people. When I tried to explain cross fertilization to a couple passing one day, they winked at me.

“We get our fruit from pies,” they said, walking away.

“Now I want a pie,” my wife said, dropping her gloves and heading for the car. An hour later, she was back with a warm pie, telling me she insisted they make her one while she was standing at the cash.

Most fruit stands with the capacity to make pies have banned her. She doesn’t know why. “All I wanted was a hot pie,” she said later. Some actually close up shop just as she’s pulling into the parking lot.

Despite her many battles with bees, squirrels and fruit vendors, she goes about her gardening with the verve and energy of, well, a gardener.

We have many flowers in the boxes under the kitchen and living room windows. My wife watches hummingbirds going from one flower to another. She gives loving taps on the window. They freak out, occasionally flying right into the windowpane.

Either they’re only stunned, or they’d rather deal with a head injury than my wife.

Dropping everything but her sweatpants, she runs to their aid, flapping a dishtowel in their faces. They fly away. Either they’re only momentarily stunned, or they’d rather deal with a head injury than my wife.

Winona still thinks the hummingbirds love her. It hardly matters when their little hearts (beating at fifty times a second) go into cardiac arrest. Why they keep coming back is a mystery. Same with the squirrels. They like the flower boxes, too, until my wife bangs on the window, sending them scurrying off while the hummingbirds drop like flies on the grass.

“Those stupid squirrels are scaring them half to death,” she says.

“I think they’d be fine if you’d stop banging on the window.”

“I’m scaring away the squirrels.”

“So why is the front lawn littered with hummingbirds?”

“The lawn is not littered with hummingbirds,” she says.

I tell her I’m surprised we don’t have cats. It’s practically a sushi platter out there. She thinks that’s the stupidest thing she’s ever heard.

“We don’t have any cats,” she says. “I cleared them out.”

They used to nap in the gazebo. Then she showed up with a stable broom. They crossed the lawn like a mad steeplechase.

“So where’s my knitting needle?” she asks, like I commune with ghosts, centipedes, aliens and possibly squirrels.

Anyway, she’s back in her chair now, eating peanut butter and melba toast while reaching for her knitting needles. One is found but not the other. “It was right here a minute ago,” she says. Either it’s ghosts or aliens or centipedes. I remind her again that Casper was a cartoon.

“So where’s my knitting needle?” she asks, like I commune with ghosts, centipedes, aliens and possibly squirrels.

“What’s that under your chair?” I say.

It’s the knitting needle, of course.

“Well, I didn’t put it there,” she says.

She sticks out her tongue. It’s covered in peanut butter. Now you know why I can’t stand the stuff. I tell her it’s making me nauseous. She sticks out her tongue again. I’m imagining Mr. Ed jawing away on that stuff, probably hating it as much as me. “Peanut butter killed Mr. Ed,” I remind her. She ignores me. Nobody’s going to tell her she can’t eat peanut butter. Not me, not Mr. Ed. Given enough peanut butter, though, I’m sure he’d try.

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Robert Cormack
Human Parts

I did a poor imitation of Don Draper for 40 years before writing my first novel. I'm currently in the final stages of a children's book. Lucky me.