I woke up this morning to the sound of birds chirping. LOTS of birds chirping. In fact, it sounded more like an ocean of birds chirping outside my window. I was tempted to tip toe over and peek outside, but I was so cozy and warm, and to be honest I was a little afraid of what I might actually see out there. Now, I consider myself a fairly normal individual, with average likes and dislikes. I'm not a hypochondriac or a phobia-ridden person, with unreasonable fears or perceptions. I don't get scared when I watch horror flicks, or look over my shoulder in fear that some creep is always lurking in the shadows...however, there is one teeny tiny little thing that will send me running for cover. Birds.
I'm not really talking about cute little song birds, or single-soaring tree dwellers like cardinals or blue jays, or even those adorable little sparrows that hop amongst the leaves looking for a cute little worm to gobble up. I'm talking about birds of the scavenger variety. The ones with long sharp claws big enough to carry away a full grown rodent. The ones that hang out in flocks targeting outdoor picnic areas, parking lots, storefronts, and waterfronts. The ones that will swoop down for a bite of your sandwich, just for fun. In Florida, tourists and litterbugs think it's amusing to feed birds, and now those birds see humans as their main source of nourishment and all hell is breaking loose in recreational hang outs all across the land.
Unfortunately, my dislike for birds doesn't necessarily rule out pets. I find them to be loud, messy and usually pretty stinky. The bigger they are the less I like them. Seriously though, are they not just rats with wings? (Yes, that is a reference to the Spongebob episode when he and his sea critter friends get pecked by seagulls). It seems cruel to cage these poor things anyway, and to clip their wings so they can't fly? How selfish of us to take that away from them!
In no particular order, here are some experiences/reasons that have resulted in my contempt for birds.
1. Birds in Parks (part 1) A few years ago, my husband worked on the back lot of Disney's Hollywood Studios (aka, MGM). During their lunch breaks he and the gang would usually walk into the park for a bite to eat. They usually got fast food and congregated at some tables in an area near the water. According to my husband, birds were always a huge problem during their meal, so much so that the guys had learned to eat super fast and not ever leave their plates open for an attack. On this particular day, a lovely tourist was sitting at the table beside them. Upon realizing that she needed some more ketchup for her fries, she got up and went back to the condiment bar and left her plate on the table. Immediately, the entire lunch area erupted into a squawking frenzy which descended on her unattended hot dog lunch. In less than 4 seconds, nothing was left but a few stray feathers.
2. Birds in Parks (part 2) I have been to Disney many many times, and each time I go, it seems that the bird are worse than the last time. I can usually ignore them pretty well, and eating indoors helps me deal, however during this one particular visit I suppose I was past due for an unfortunate bird encounter. As we walked along the water in Frontier Land (by Tom Sawyers Island/Haunted Mansion) we walked smack into a sea gull landing strip. They were apparently swarming the trash receptacles in that area trying to score some discarded turkey leg bones. For those of you not familiar with this traditional Disney treat, it's the only spot in the park where you can buy these famous femur-sized smoked turkey legs from a vendor on the street. (For more information, check out this blog: http://www.diningindisney.com/disney-turkey-legs-uncovered-the-real-secret-behind-this-tasty-disney-treat/ ). Unable to ignore the aerial onslaught any longer, I picked up the pace in an effort to seek shelter, distancing myself from my spouse as he broke into hysterics laughing at me. But as I got closer to what seemed like a safe zone, one of the sea gulls suddenly swooped down at me. I swear it seemed like it was trying to land on my head, so I ducked and dodged and slinked my way under an overhang just in time to turn around and see a group of people (and my husband) laughing at me!!! Admittedly, it must have looked really funny, but at the time I was practically peeing my pants.
3. Birds at Work (part 1, 1999) Back in the early days of my career, I resorted to desperate measures in order to get my foot in the door somewhere, and this sometimes meant working for insultingly low wages. For a few weeks I teamed up with a home-based web design business who needed artwork for a website. They mostly did programming and didn't have an in house artist, so it seemed like a good fit. I was super excited until I walked in the door and saw what I was up against. During the "interview", the lady had her pet bird sitting on her shoulder the entire time. I have no idea what kind of bird it was, but it was small and green and it had a penchant for shitting on her shoulder. The whole time she's asking me serious questions about my skill set and my goals, this bird is staring at me dropping loads on her shoulder. It was as if he was mocking me (hmmm, could this actually be a mockingbird?). The best part, was that she never even notices what's happening!! Was I supposed to tell her? I mean, was this a common occurrence or was the bird about to drop dead? And what is the protocol for discussing poop during an interview? I ended up getting the project, but every time I would come in to work and smell the stench of bird dookie I began to realize that this place was not for me. If only I had recognized the forebodingness of all that doo doo. I ended up getting completely ripped off my these people, who never paid me for any of my work! I reported them to the BBB, and made sure I mentioned the repulsive condition of their home/office, even citing the pooping bird on her shoulder.
4. Birds at Work (part 2, 2000) Before I made my complete transition into graphic design, I worked as a nail tech in a hair salon. My work station was right in the front window, so I had a clear view of the parking lot outside. Earlier in the week, we noticed an aggressive swooping bird near the trees that border our row of parking spaces. Evidently, a mother bird was patrolling the area to protect the babies in her nest. Each day, the bird seemed more and more bold, until one afternoon she actually dive-bombed one of our clients and hit her in the head as she walked to her car! Now, I probably don't even have to mention what happened next, but I can't resist. Within minutes, every person in the salon was lined up at the front windows watching this bird swoop people in the parking lot. One by one, as our clients finished with their services and had to leave, we'd all hold our breaths (and watch) as they would break into a " crouching run" to get to their cars. And just when we thought things wouldn't get any funnier, this one girl gets hit by the bird, in mid bend while she's got one foot in the car and the other foot on the ground. She is so startled by the attack that she ends up sliding out of the car onto the ground, while we all break out into utter hysterics. I know. Salons are full of bitches.
5. Birds at Work (part 3, 2008) In an effort to land a potentially lucrative freelance job, my husband and I met with a woman who publishes her own magazine, in an exclusive suburb of Orlando. She works out of her house, and was apparently going through a rather difficult time in her life, suffering from a serious back injury. I was warned in advance that she would be medicated during our visit, but I was unable to get a sitter for our sons, so she said we should bring them along. She explained that she loves kids, and that her house full of pets that would provide plenty of entertainment while we discussed our business. So we show up, kids in tow, and are greeted at the door by this truly poor soul. Bless her heart, she looks a mess. She gives us a tour of her sprawling estate, and offers to show my oldest son her pet McCaw. Now, I will just say for the record, this bird was stunningly gorgeous. She's got the thing in a gigantic 5 foot cage in her bedroom, and without even asking, she takes it out of the cage! She hadn't cleaned the cage in weeks, the whole room was filled with a this "fowl" odor. I'm standing there holding my breath, cursing my husband for falling behind on the tour (and leaving us alone with this chick and her crazy bird)! She had a little trouble trying to take him out of the cage, maybe he sensed my contempt, maybe he sensed the fear in my 3 year old son's eyes, or maybe it was just all the painkillers she was doped up on. For whatever reason, the thing starts SCREECHING at us, at the top of it's lungs. It was so incredibly loud that my ear drums went numb. My poor son was bawling, trying to climb up me, and I'm standing there trying to politely tell her that it's okay for the very pretty bird to go back into it's cage. Needless to say, this experience would eventually go down in history as one of our most effed up interviews ever, we never even got any of the work she promised, so it was all for nothing. I guess the designer she'd a falling out with, kissed her ass and she gave all the work back to him. It's cool though, she was just a loon with a pet McCaw.
6. Birds at Friend's House Technically, this was actually the story that began it all. In high school, my twin sister dated a boy who's family owned some sort of large bird, it may have been a McCaw but I'm not sure...anyway, one time while she was there, he asked her if she wanted to hold the bird. She said that she wasn't interested, but he pushed the issue ensuring her that Polly was a friendly bird, and would never hurt her. So, my sister decided to be a good sport, and allowed him to put the bird on her arm. Less than 3 seconds later, the thing turns it's head and bites her right on the lip for no reason, while scratching the shit out of her arm.
7. FlightlessBirds and Lakes In college, I was a rollerblading fool and so were my roommates. One day, while skating around a lake in downtown Orlando, we came upon a beautiful white swan. I always detour around those things because they can be pretty aggressive at times. And it's not like I had a pocket full of bread crumbs to toss at it! Since I was a little steadier on my skates I managed to get away from the thing. But, my roommate wasn't as lucky, and lagged behind while this thing chased after her, squawking...