Interview with Floyd Fenster – Recipient of the gifts of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”
By John Farley (JF)
Below is an interview I had with Floyd Fenster, who received last year from his long-distance girlfriend, Frances Fernbush, who lives in London, England, all the gifts cited in the popular song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Interestingly, Fenster, who is an agnostic, never heard of the song, so when he started receiving the song’s gifts everyday, he didn’t know what was going on. So here is a transcript of the phone interview I had with Fenster (FF) who lives in Minnesota.
JF: Thanks for agreeing to this interview. I guess last year your Christmas was a bit different from the usual.
FF: You might say that. I’m just wondering what I might get from her this year.
JF: So on Christmas day last year you received from Fern a partridge in a pear tree.
FF: Yea, that’s right.
JF: How did it come?
JF: No kidding. Did the partridge come with the tree or did they come separately?
FF: They came together. When I opened the box the bird was perched in the tree. It was in a planter so I just put it in the corner of the living room.
JF: So then the next day you got another gift?
FF: Yea, I thought that was it with the bird and the tree but then I got two turtle doves.
JF: How did they come?
JF: Really. How did you know they were turtle doves as compared, to say, regular doves?
FF: It said turtle doves on the box.
JF: Right. What did you do with them?
FF: I didn’t know what to do with them so I let them fly around the house. Sometimes they would settle on the pear tree. I got to tell you that partridge is very territorial.
JF: Now on the next day you got three French hens?
FF: Yea, three French hens.
JF: How did they come?
JF: Of course. How did you know they were French? It was written on the box?
FF: No, it wasn’t written on the box. I didn’t know what kind they were. I didn’t care really.
JF: Well, how did you know they were French?
FF: Well, when they clucked, especially one of them, they sounded like a combination of Inspector Clouseau and Maurice Chevalier. One of them could cluck a rather moving rendition of La Marseillaise.
JF: I guess that kind of nailed it. So then the next day you got four calling birds? How did they come?
JF: Did they come in cages or what?
FF: Yea, cages, you know, the kind they hang from something. I hung them next to the pear tree.
JF: Well, what did they call?
FF: I don’t know.
JF: Did they just call out randomly, or like maybe they were summoning another bird or something?
FF: I couldn’t say. But one of them had a cell phone.
JF: Ha, ha. Were they like parrots, repeating things you said?
FF: No, but with all the birds around, I think I was beginning to chirp a little myself.
JF: Why didn’t you ask your girlfriend to cut it with the birds and tweet her.
FF: Cute. Is this interview almost over?
JF: We have a few more gifts to go over. Then on the next day you got five golden rings?
FF: Yea, and none of them fit.
JF: Wait a minute. Over a four day period you got a partridge, two turtle doves, three very French hens, and four calling birds. That’s ten birds. That’s a lot of droppings.
FF: Tell me about it. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings and say anything. I was hoping at least one of the rings would fit.
JF: So what was on the next day?
FF: Six geese-a-laying.
JF: Just what you needed. Six more birds. How did they come?
FF: FedEx. I opened up the box and they were all sitting in nests on top of their eggs.
JF: How many eggs were there?
FF: Each one had about three eggs.
JF: So by now I imagine those eggs have hatched.
FF: Oh yea, 18 little gooselings right on New Year’s Day.
JF: I think they call them goslings.
FF: Whatever. Yea, we have quite a gaggle here.
JF: So that makes 34 birds you have in there. Now hold on, the next gift was seven swans-a-swimming? More birds, are you kidding?
FF: Yea, I’m just hoping she doesn’t send me any more birds this year.
JF: So how did the swans come?
FF: FedEx. They were all in these little tubs swimming around.
JF: That’s 41 birds Floyd. What did you do with the swans?
FF: I have a large house with three baths. Put’em in the bathtubs.
JF: Didn’t the FedEx delivery man ever get a bit suspicious about what was going on?
FF: Didn’t seem to. I just signed for it and that was it.
JF: Then the next day you got eight maids-a-milking. How did they come?
JF: FedEx? Eh, well what were they milking?
FF: When I opened up the containers they were milking cows and some goats – yea, five cows and three goats. FedEx had to fork lift them onto my porch.
JF: I guess you were all set for milk. Well, at least you didn’t get more birds. So how did the maids get through customs? What were their nationalities? Did they need visas?
FF: I don’t know. I didn’t get into all that. You’re asking me about the eight women and not about the cows and the goats?
JF: Well, yea, you’re not going to have any immigration problems with the cows and the goats. Anyway, all of a sudden, around the house, you have 41 birds, eight maids, five cows, and three goats.
FF: Well, yea I know – a woman in love. What could I do? The eight maids are in the guest room and I put the cows and goats in the basement.
JF: When you go to sleep at night – a lot of chirping, cackling, mooing, and goat sounds?
FF: You get used to it.
JF: Then the next day you got, correct me if I’m wrong, nine ladies dancing?
JF: How did they come? And don’t tell me FedEx.
FF: FedEx. Before I opened the boxes I sensed a lot of movement in there. I opened the elegantly wrapped box and these nine women came dancing out.
JF: What were they doing – maybe a kind of Viennese waltz thing?
FF: No, two were doing the jitterbug with each other, one was doing a kind of Isadora Duncan thing you know with a lot of flowing scarves, one was doing, I think, the frug, a couple were doing the twist, one was doing a kind of retro merengue bunny hop thing, two were doing Irish step-dance, and the last one out, a ballerina, was on point and has remained on point since they arrived.
JF: Sounds like you know a lot about dance.
FF: Yea, I used to square dance a little.
JF: Right. What did you do with them?
FF: I put them up in a third floor apartment rental space which happened to be vacant at the time.
JF: Do they ever stop dancing?
FF: Doesn’t seem like it.
JF: So you have these nine ladies dancing and thumping on the third floor, cows mooing in the basement with the goat sounds, and 41 birds flying around chirping, clucking, and cooing.
FF: Yea, it’s quite a racket.
JF: I suppose by this time you were hoping your true love would stop sending you gifts.
FF: Yea, I gotta admit I’d get a little nervous when I’d see the FedEx truck pull up.
JF: I can imagine. So then the next day you got ten lords-a-leaping? FedEx?
FF: FedEx. I opened the box and they came leaping out. The Lord of Worcestershire leapt especially well. He could go from the far end of the living room to the dining room in one leap. The Lord of Leicestershire had a very peculiar leap. He looked like somebody trying to straddle a small mud puddle while posing for a photo.
JF: Did they ever just kind of walk around normally?
FF: No, they were always leaping.
JF: Did you ask them why they were always leaping?
FF: Yea. They said they just liked leaping. Jokingly, they said during boring legislation discussions in the House they could get out of the chamber faster by leaping.
JF: So what did you do with them?
FF: Yea, that was a problem. I had to rent a large trailer which I put on my property and install bunk beds.
JF: You know, obviously, a lord is not somebody you can just wrap up in a FedEx box.
FF: I know. I don’t know how she did it. I still have a few leaping about here. Most of them returned back in June to catch the Wimbledon finals. I suspect, at least one of them had a dalliance with one of the maids-a-milking.
JF: Any belly bumps?
FF: Haven’t noticed any.
JF: Ok, so then the next day, you got eleven pipers piping?
FF: FedEx was complaining about the noise. To get rid of it they bumped it from ground to next day air. They came marching out of the box, kilts and all, bagpipes bellowing. The neighbors were starting to complain too. Curiously, three of them were not playing bagpipes, but piping on regular smoking pipes, except for one who was sucking on a hookah.
JF: Uh, huh. So what did you do with them?
FF: I had to rent another trailer. The lords weren’t too happy about the bagpipe noise, so I put their trailer on the other side of the house.
JF: I guess the English are still a bit touchy about the Scots. So now you have all that noise in the house and the bagpipes blasting out in the yard. Must have been hard to find any peace?
FF: Sometimes I’d go upstairs and watch the ladies dancing. That kind of helped. Funny, you know.
JF: What’s that?
FF: Watching some of the ladies trying to do the twist to bagpipe music.
JF: So now the next day you got twelve drummers drumming. Did FedEx still deliver to you?
FF: Yea, but said they wouldn’t deliver any more noisy boxes. It was quite a din. Anyway, I opened the box and they too came marching out banging on their drums. Some of the lords leapt over to see what was going on. The bagpipers seemed to like having some percussion accompaniment.
JF: Did they have different kinds of drums?
FF: Yea, I learned later of all the types. There were a couple of bass drums, a couple of snare drums, some congas, a damroo, a djembe, two tablas, and a guy from Brooklyn playing the washboard. Go figure.
JF: So what did you do with them?
FF: Well, luckily four of the drummers were female, so I put them upstairs with the nine ladies dancing, which only troubled the ballerina on point. Some others I put with the eleven pipers piping. They formed a piping and percussion ensemble which they’ve taken on the road with the two ladies doing the Irish step-dance. The two guys on the tablas got back in the box and Fedexed themselves to India. The guy from Brooklyn with the washboard is sleeping under the pear tree.
JF: Not a place I would want to be.
FF: I told him, but what are you going to do?
JF: Well, Floyd, that’s quite a tale.
FF: If it were only a tale I guess I wouldn’t mind.
JF: What do you hope she’ll send you this year?
FF: Some bird seed would be good.
JF: Yea. So what happened to the relationship?
FF: Couple of years ago we found each other on-line. Never been together. Skype a lot. Been trying to get her to join me here in Minnesota, but although she says she loves me, she says she could never live with a guy with cows and goats in the basement and swans in the bathtubs. I guess I only have one more thing to say.
JF: What’s that Floyd?
FF: I’m glad there’s only Twelve Days of Christmas.
JF: Thanks for the interview Floyd. Happy New Year.