Of all the people I have met since moving back to Chattanooga, I can say without hesitation or apology that I have a favorite. His came is Wren. I have always tended to connect with children and dogs more quickly than adults. Birds, too, come to think of it, but despite his name, Wren is not a bird. He is a little boy. I asked Wren how he got his name, and without looking up from the superhero postage stamps he was studying, he replied, “A bird.”
I asked him what kind of bird he was named after.
“I like Green Lantern,” he said.
Hoping to find the answer on my own, I started listing the wrens.”
“House wren? Carolina? Sedge? Marsh?”
Wren was paying no attention to my inquisition, so I turned my attention to his superheroes.
“How come he’s green?”
Wren looked up, shrugged, then looked back to his stamps.
“And what’s with the lantern?”
“It’s cuz he’s the Green Lantern.”
Wren rolled his eyes at the pointlessness of my question just as his mother, Heidi, who had been listening from a few feet away joined the conversation.
“What’s your full name, Wren?”
“I don’t like Aqua Man.”
“What’s not to like about Aqua Man?” I asked. “Aqua Man is my favorite. He can talk to the whales, the squids, the dolphins. And they talk back, too.”
Wren looked up from the stamps. His father, Stuart, stopped chopping peppers and looked over from the kitchen.
“Wouldn’t you rather be able to fly?” Stuart asked.
“Yeah, I’d fly.” chimed Wren. “Why would you want to talk to fish?”
“Oh, come on, guys, imagine the impact I could have on the world if I could talk to the whales. I mean, how do you think they feel about over-fishing? About global warming? And what about all that noisy sonar? That must drive them crazy! Just think, If they had a way to communicate with us – about what we are doing to their home. Imagine being such an advocate! The responsibility and potential! There would be no more arguing about our impact. We would have to respond – to change things.”
I was feeling pretty good about my decision to back Aqua Man – the altruism of it! – when his father spoke up.
“Yeah, imagine requesting a meeting with the president so you can tell him that you’ve been talking with the whales and there’s some things they want him to know. That’ll change the world.”
“Is it Canyon Wren?” Heidi asked him.
“Can the Green Lantern fly?”
“It’s Canyon Wren,” she said to me.
“I would have gotten there. Eventually,” I responded. “Cool name. Hey, how fast is the Green Lantern?”
“Bobickly!” said Wren excitedly.
Wren looked at his father and grinned. Clearly, they knew something I didn’t.
“And just how fast is bobickly fast?”
Wren looked at me with a furrowed brow.
“It’s a noun,” offered Stuart.
“Ok. I get it. What is a bobickly?”
“I’ll show you.”
Wren got up from the floor and walked over to the door. I thought maybe he had a bobickly out on the porch and was going to retrieve it until he stopped and turned around.
“Watch behind him,” said Stuart.
Wren took off running as fast as he could across the room.
At 5 years old, Wren couldn’t run all that fast, but I understood what they were after.
“Wow! It’s like you blurred. Like you were everywhere at once!”
“That’s a bobickly!” they proclaimed together.
“Aqua Man doesn’t get bobicklies, does he?” I asked.
“Nope. Not fast enough. And he can’t fly, either.”
“He can breathe underwater, though…”
“Tell me a story.”
“Only if you put the stamps away.”
Wren was reluctant, but I held my ground and with Stuart’s encouragement, he put the stamps away. Then, together, we told the story of Mr. Wiggle and Mr. Waggle – a tale of best friends who moved so fast through the mountains to see each other that they left bobicklies in their wake. The story ended just as it does every time, just the way it was taught to me by Jim May:
“…good night, Mr. Wiggle.”
“Good night, Mr. Waggle.”
Cause they were best friends!
By the time we had finished the story, Stuart had finished making supper and I needed to go home. I put on my shoes, said goodbye and headed out the door. As I got to the bottom of the steps, I heard the door open and I looked back.
Wren was standing in the doorway waving, with a big grin on his face.
Cause we were best friends!