Dr. Chastain – UGA – Pays a Call
Last month, room #4 was booked by Dr. Harold Chastain and his wife who live in Athens, GA.
Dr. Chastain, although only in his forties, is a tall, serious, and somber man who would appear to have been knighted by the ‘tweed fairy.” Initially, Isabel was all excited about his arrival at the Inn because we don’t generally get many people from the medical profession. Isabel’s excitement abated, however, when Dr. Chastain turned out to be stuffy, a pipe-smoker, and self-made Anglophile who teaches in the Zoology Department at the University of Georgia. As luck would have it, his specialty is ornithology, the study of birds.
Dr. Chastain’s wife, Ingrid appears to be shy and quiet, a small-statured woman with pale white skin, short blonde hair, and blue eyes. During their stay, Ingrid never once appeared downstairs without her ‘trademark’ field glasses hanging around her neck at the end of a worn leather strap — truly the trappings of an ornithologist, or, at least, the wife of an avid ornithologist.
I remember that it was at the Friday night happy hour that some evidence of Isabel’s innate vanity truly came to light. Faded Glory was fully booked that weekend, and all of the guests had arrived and settled in. Isabel’s traditional “guest appreciation happy hour” was in full swing, and our downstairs ‘common area’ was packed with guests.
Light hors d’oevres were being served by Micah Davenport and Isabel, glasses were clinking, and the crowd had gravitated into the sitting room where Spook (our resident, moth-eaten crow) was regaling them with bits and pieces of his spicy repertoire. People were beginning to get more than a little relaxed, and I was getting more than my share of food droppings as the party progressed. Life was good for me that night at Faded Glory Farm.
As Isabel glided into the sitting room with a fresh platter of warm ‘crab puffs,’ she saw Dr. Chastain and his wife standing transfixed in a large group in front of Spook’s cage. Spook was working the crowd with his rendition of “Here, Kitty, Kitty, come to Spook!” – one of his favorites which he usually follows with a boisterous “Meow.”
As the group broke into applause, Isabel decided it time to take the spotlight, saying “Folks, isn’t my Mynah bird wonderful?”
She seemed shocked when Dr. Chastain cleared his throat and said
“I beg to differ with you Isabel, but although he is wonderful, he isn’t a Mynah Bird. He IS a crow! Mynah birds originate in southern and eastern Asia, they are smaller, and they are decidedly members of the starling family. My dear Isabel, you don’t really think that this bird is a Mynah bird, do you?”
Our guests were now hushed and whispered quietly among themselves. An awkward silence ensued. I don’t think I have ever seen Isabel turn that shade of red before. She hardly seemed to notice as her three remaining crab puffs slid from her serving dish onto the floor.
When she left the room, her face was truly crimson, and those crab puffs were mine! Those crab puffs were mine! Dr. Chastain came by the kitchen later that evening to proffer an apology for his offhand public remarks, but unfortunately, the damage had already been done.
Isabel never again referred to Spook as her “Mynah bird” after that; now she just refers to him as ‘Spook.’