No, You Can’t Make Me Like the Birds

Birds suck.  I don’t have any flowery way to impart that information to you other than being completely honest.  I don’t like them.  Well…maybe just a little bit.  But they’re creepy and annoying and they stink to high hell.  It’s actually kind of funny that I am sitting here even talking about the little devils, but I’ve got an itch in my brain about this and there’s no going on in life if I don’t get it scratched. And it all started because of a lunatic goose that tried to take my hand off at the lake…

Every once in blue moon I get this urge to walk. Nothing special about that.  I just want to move and breathe in the beautiful Colorado air and take a moment to celebrate that I am still alive and able to enjoy such a day.  Minding my own business.  Just listening to some funny comedy stand-up routines and living life—maybe I’m making too fine a point about this.  I guess you can say I was just being. It was going so well when I hit the ¾ mile mark (the point where I am either limping like I haven’t walked for three years or speeding along with the knowledge that my car is just…over…that…hill) and came upon my nemesis. Or nemeses. (Screw you, English language!)

Feeling good (because I just lapped a 70 year old woman handling three dogs) and ready to be done, I whipped (okay, walked at a slightly accelerated pace) around the corner into a gaggle of geese.  As I started the turn I had noticed that they were lingering on the edge of the sidewalk, but calculated that there was plenty of room for me to avoid them without incident. (This is why I never passed classes in high school that involved anything resembling “calculating.”) Perhaps I looked at them wrong, or maybe I was sending out the “stay the hell away from me” vibe so hard that they felt challenged, but, as a group, they decided to block my path to freedom.  Not only that, but one of them decided to excrete the nastiest bit of business right across (yes, across) the part of the sidewalk that I was going to use.

Mildly amused (and majorly pissed) I increased my pace and prepared to jump over the offending shit when I heard a loud hissing sound from my right.  My adrenaline spiked and I looked over just quickly enough to see a 78 foot tall Mega Goose snapping for my hand.  It quickly turned into one of those Scooby-Doo moments where I jumped up and ran on the air for five feet while leaving a trail of what?  Dust? Speed dust?  Hell, I don’t know.  I think I left the trail of air that is achieved when someone reaches the speed of sound.  I still have no clue what I did to that effing bird.  I would say he was defending a goose (geese?) nest but it was still a little early for that.  I think he was just looking for a fight and I was the next person in his zone.  Fucker.

So now I can’t stop thinking about birds.  Which for someone that hates birds is kind of like being in hell.  Flashes of my life passed before my eyes, singling out the various moments that lead me to the hate of all things with beaks and wings (except for Hippogriffs—those are seriously cool looking). It turns out that I have at least five very strong memories about birds that I would like to bore you all with now:

New Mexico and the Delayed Reaction.  If anyone has ever tried to make the drive from Denver to Albuquerque they should know that unless there is a kick ass playlist going (I’m thinking the Xanadu soundtrack or old school Dolly Parton) or a group of people in tune enough to spend twenty minutes laughing one silly line from an 80’s movie (“Metallic Pea? Antarctic Blue!) it was going to be the longest eight hours of your life. I usually opt for the straight shot down I-25 to Albuquerque for my trips, but this one particular time we (my mom, sister and some friends) took the scenic route down through Taos and Santa Fe.  Everyone seemed pretty happy and well peed (thank goodness for the one gas station with the one bathroom with the long line of people waiting) when we were unceremoniously attacked by what I can only describe as a vulture with a ten foot wingspan.

Unfortunately, I was the “lucky” driver at the time and when I saw that monstrosity I dove for cover as if I was trying to avoid a flying hubcap.  Again, it was a moment where the heartbeat spiked and I was in an actual panic.  Elapsed time for the entire incident? Three seconds, max.  I sat back up and realized that everyone was laughing at me.  I knew that I had looked like an idiot but it took a minute to find out why.  Apparently I had a delayed reaction to the bird (which it has been explained to me was not that big at all) and I didn’t dive down until a few seconds after the bird had flown by the car.  So while I was living the event in real time, it was a real time that was three seconds behind actual real time.  I became the car entertainment for the next twenty minutes—and I guess it’s nice to know I’m good for something.  I have to admit that my ego still hasn’t recovered.  Damn bird.

I Guess Birds Don’t Like Def Leppard? Way, way, waaaay back in my life history I was a mere babe of a high school student who was embarking on her first trip to Outdoor Education.  Now, I’m not sure if this is a concept that is very big anywhere else around the country, but in Colorado most sixth graders are bused up to the Rocky Mountains to live like gold miners.  Not really, but compared to living in a metropolitan city it kind of felt that way.  Somehow I had missed the extraordinary opportunity afforded to me when I was in the sixth grade and felt compelled to make sure I graduated without having missed a single moment of mountain living–so I volunteered to be a camp counselor for the little people that would be going that year.  I could write an entire book on the experience, but I’m just going to focus on the one little incident that still makes me want to gag if I think about it too long.

I was obsessed with the band Def Leppard. Like, I used to suck up information about Def Leppard up like a modern fourth grade girl would stalk Justin Bieber.  My room, my car, my brain, my television (thanks Headbanger’s Ball)…all dedicated to the boys from Sheffield, England. And my prized possession was a jean jacket that had a huge Def Leppard patch sewn onto the back. My mom had transformed it from a thrift store jacket with a painted cat (or unicorn—I can’t remember) on the back into the coolest piece of clothing that I had ever owned.  I would venture to say that it is still the coolest piece of clothing I have, but it doesn’t do me much good now, when I can’t even get my hand and wrist halfway down the sleeve.  Anyway, I had received my list of required items that I had to have packed for the trip and Def Leppard jacket definitely wasn’t on there.  They wanted me to pack my heavy duty winter barf colored coat, but I resisted.  Def Leppard was going to be my coat, even if I had to wear all of my other shirts under it to stay warm.

Three days in to the adventure I was escorting some kids to what was sure to be a scintillating presentation on beavers and other mountain stuff when I was shit bombed by one of my feathery “friends.” Imagine walking along a rock strewn path with a group of giggly sixth grade girls when grayish-white bird poop splatters across your back like a Pollock painting.  It got in my hair…and my ear…and all over my beloved Def Leppard jacket.  I was mortified and humiliated (nothing like being singled out for torture by sixth graders) and I’m sure I smelled like Andy Dufresne when he came out of the pipe at the end of Shawshank. It was awful.  But I could take it.  I could take it all.  Keep laughing you little pukes! I’ll live—but what about my jacket?

I’m in the middle of the Rocky Mountains outside of a building that barely had enough room for the beaver pelts and cougar bodies it housed AND a group of sixth graders—let alone a decent restroom with running water, soap and paper towels.  I ushered the girls into the building and bee-lined to the “bathroom” and managed to dampen a wad of toilet paper just enough to barely make it useful.  I rubbed and scrubbed and ended up with a stinky jacket smeared with grey poop with bits of toilet paper sticking out. There was no way that I could escape from the situation, so I sat there sad and upset for an entire freaking hour.  When we finally made it back to the cabins my hair was stiff, my ear was itching and my jacket was a disgrace.  I was able to wash it down the best I could but it still smelled of poop and it never had a chance to completely dry—and I spent the rest of the week in a damp, smelly jean jacket.  Damn bird.

Watch Where You Stand—They’re Everywhere.  As I got older I began to prepare myself for the moments I would be encountering birds. When I know that I am going to be going to the zoo, I can have a little talk with myself on how not to lose my shit when we, inevitably, go into Bird World.  In fact, I have become so comfortable within the confines of a zoo that I do find myself enjoying a stroll through their aviaries once in a while.  In these instances I am prepared (and ready to do battle) for whatever shenanigans may ensue.  I still don’t enjoy penguins (because they are just too disgusting) but I’ll look over and see the flamingos.  I even fed a lorikeet once!  I figure if I get pooped on in the cages, I was asking for it. It’s the unplanned moments with birds that really trash me.

Not too long ago I was taking my dog George out for a night walk.  Taking him for walks aren’t my favorite things to do in the first place, and when it’s night time and very shortly before I’m going to be starting my night ritual (eating, working out, watching television, and eating) it is just a complete pain in the ass.  It was cold, I didn’t want to be there, and my child (whom I depend on to talk to on these endless seven minute walks) ditched me for more computer time.  There was nothing that was going to happen on that walk that was going to make this mama feel happy.  But I did it.  I pulled up the big girl panties and did my familial duty (cue the cheering crowd).

As I was nearing my home and I was starting to feel the sense of euphoria for finishing something extraordinary when I was attacked by some winged terror of the night.  We have this huge pine tree in the front yard (that the hubby keeps trimmed just enough for the car to pull into the garage without getting scratched to death) that I walked under to start heading up to the house when it suddenly started shaking and panicking. (I didn’t think trees could panic—but this one was!) Before I could even register what was going on, something sharp grazed the top of my head, flapped its wings around my ears, and took off for the unknown.  I almost had a heart attack right there.  I don’t know what kind of bird it was—my imagination conjured up a mutant owl (it’s amazing what three seconds of terror does to your brain) with rabies.  I sat on the driveway until my legs could function again then I quit night walks in protest (but not really). The hubby gets to do most night walks now and I stay far, far away from that tree. Damn bird.

The Crows of Death.  Every day I get to drive my beloved son to his before school care.  After what usually amounts to 45 minutes of pushing and prodding a comatose little person through the rituals of looking human, smelling human and acting human, I get to poke and prod him into the car and deliver him gift wrapped to his teachers.  I put in a lot of work for one smallish person, but in that one second after delivery I feel free and lightened—my own life can commence.

Leaving the school one morning I happened to look up into what was just about the most spectacular morning I had ever seen.  The sky looked like it had been pulled straight out of a Simpsons cartoon and there was a fresh wind coming at me from the northwest (okay, I have no idea where it was coming from, but it sounded good, right?) and I was just beginning to take a deep breath when I heard the loudest freaking scream? Caw? Insult? From the biggest black bird I have ever seen.  Staring at me from the nearest chain link fence, it radiated enough shade at me to make me question if I had accidentally stepped on an egg or something.  I immediately froze and stood staring dumbly at the bird for what seemed like hours.  He cawed at me again and my imagination hurtled me straight into the nightmare that I was in The Stand and I was looking straight at Randall Flagg.  No shit. It was an excruciatingly awkward moment of fantasy and reality that freaked me out for a second.

Finally realizing that another parent with her child was coming up the sidewalk, I shook myself free of my hallucination and continued on down to my car.  I figured there was a good chance the bird would take out the other mom instead of me if I scurried away quickly enough, so I fled.  Straight into another god damned black bird right next to my car.  I swear I started to look around for Tippi Hedren because if I was going to be placed right in the middle of a Hitchcock movie I was going to do battle inside of my car.  I picked up the pace and basically tried to jog over the bird.  He flew away at the last second and I felt like a warrior princess.  I hadn’t really done a freaking thing, but that didn’t matter.  I felt like I just saved my own life.  With no one to share my euphoria with I scampered off to work.  No, you’re not wrong—it was pretty lame.  Stupid birds.

Woody Woodpecker was an Asshole.  I try, you guys, really, I do.  I can look at cute little chicks and “ooh and ah” at them.  I’ve even had eggs in an incubator at the library and watched them hatch! I can enjoy seeing flocks of birds flying in formation together.  I get choked up when I see happy pairs of ducks swimming in the lake–on little double dates getting ready to make babies for the spring.  I strain to see hawks and eagles flying over my (like I own them) Rocky Mountains and I marvel when I see a next full of little blue speckled eggs…

But then I finally have a morning that I get to sleep in and I have nothing scheduled except for a two hour hot shower (but not really), a solo shopping trip to the mall, and a trip to my favorite hamburger joint when a freaking woodpecker starts hammering on my chimney (right next to my bedroom) like he’s adding on his own personal perch.  First I think I can just ignore it and then the hammering goes double time.  I start screaming at the ceiling in my room (as if that’s going to do anything) promising that if I have to get out of bed I am going to shoot it with my non-existent bb gun.  He doesn’t stop.

I cover my head with my pillow and try to ignore it, but it just won’t go away.  In a tizzy, I throw off my covers, stomp to the back door, throw it open so hard that the glass begins to vibrate, and run out to face my enemy.  It would have been a terribly cool moment if I a) wasn’t standing braless in only an oversized t-shirt, b) in the one pile of dog shit that didn’t get picked up from the yard, c) completely blinded by the sun that was situated just over the head of the freaking woodpecker.  I would have been an old time cartoon had I only had curlers in my hair and an old ratty bathrobe on my body.  As it was I was a sight to be seen and I’m sure there were plenty of neighbors that saw it.

Screaming at the woodpecker didn’t work—he just looked at me for a second and then went right back at it—so I started to look for things to throw.  Of course, I am married to the tidiest man in America and there’s nothing TO throw.  So I limped over to the decorative rocks by my back fence (while dragging my foot through the grass to wipe off the dog poop) and loaded up my shirt with ammunition.  Now, I wasn’t in my right mind and I didn’t realize that this would show my granny panties to the world, which, now that I think about it, wasn’t a completely bad thing.  I was being badass without knowing I was being badass (and that’s kind of amazing for me).

The first rock didn’t go anywhere near the bird and I suddenly realized that there was real potential that I was going to damage my house.  It made me stop for a second because sometimes I think my hubby could handle something bad happening to me more than something bad happening to the house.  Am I making the right decision in throwing rocks at his pride and joy?  I start to come back into the now when the freaking woodpecker looked at me, looked at the chimney, looked at me again, and then started pounding on the house again.  I lost it.  I started throwing those rocks as quickly as a machine gun.

I finally landed one close enough to startle him and he flew off with a belligerent squawk sure to do damage to one of my neighbor’s homes.  Good riddance and have a good time you little shit.  You’re not coming near my house again. (Which, now that I think about it, he never did—yay me!)  Dropping the last two rocks back into my yard I limped back in to the house and into the shower.  My perfect day started off so not perfectly but I got through it.  One hot shower (and heavy duty foot scrub) later I was out the door and on the way to the mall—bonus Capri pants for me.  Hooray!

So, life continues on and I learn to live with all of the birds of the world.  Some days are better than others (and I can handle their noise and their nearness) and some days I am exhausted with the effort.  I appreciate that I live in a place where majestic birds fly over our indescribable mountains—I just appreciate them from afar. Maybe someday I will learn to see more of the beauty of birds and less of how they just annoy me to no end, but for now I’ll just stick with my tried and true modus operandi.  So, for now, you just can’t make me like the birds.

© DRB 2016

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