Not enough people appreciate that birds carry weapons on their faces. Combine those beaks with their ability to fly, and they’re an explosive warhead away from being missiles.
If you believe that birds descended from dinosaurs, and if you’ve seen Jurassic Park, you should share my healthy fear of feathered beasts. It’s called the transitive property, and you can’t argue with math. (To the question, “How many ridiculous statements were just made?” the answer is six. But I stand by all of them.)
Given these facts, you can understand my horror at finding two blond girls and an elderly woman at the local state park, feeding a bag full of breadcrumbs to a flock of geese.
I went to this park for exercise, not an adrenaline rush. If I wanted a brush with death, I would go to Jones Beach on a Saturday in August and yell, “Real men don’t wax their eyebrows!” If these females care to act on their suicidal impulses, fine, but do it on their own time– not when it threatens the livelihood of fellow park-goers just looking for a good speed-walk.
So now, instead of the geese floating in the lake at a safe distance like dragons in the dungeon of a castle, they were crowding around their wranglers, squawking and boasting their intimidation, their necks craning like King Cobras about to strike. And yes, I believe dragons and royal snakes are appropriate comparisons.
As I mentioned earlier, I do not have a death wish, so I clearly could not, would not, walk through this swarm of famished fouls. I abandoned the path to avoid being…. ::gulp:: attacked.
Flash to summer 1995
My family climbed out of the paddle boat, looking forward to exploring the tiny island right off the coast of Watch Hill, Rhode Island. It was not much more than a patch of land peaking out from the ocean, spotted with rough grass and pebbles, but we happily skipped along, probably holding hands and singing the Brady Bunch theme song, pausing only to compliment each other.
“Nice over-sized Chicago Bulls t-shirt, Greg.”
“Thanks. Cool spandex shorts, Alena. It looks like you’re going biking, but you’re not. That’s sweet.”
“Oh, look at this pretty blue rock,” my mother said. She bent down, picked it up, examined it, and then dropped it.
It was not a rock, but a bird egg.
That’s when disaster struck this picture-perfect day. Within seconds, the sky turned black. Birds from all over New England were directly overhead, and these were the original Angry Birds. One by one, they dove and pecked at, not just the woman responsible for the splattering of their unborn chick, but every member of the Dillon family. We screamed. We swatted. We ran– over the prickly grass that sliced our feet– and to the paddle boat. It was every man for himself; I think I used my little brother’s head as a footstep into the vessel. Somehow, we all made it aboard, and my father paddled, literally, for our lives.
I don’t like to curse, but that was some Hitchcock shit.
Back to Belmont Lake State Park 2012
As I veered onto the grass, recalling that traumatic day when the Dillon clan was almost struck down by dive-bombers, a goose lurched, and I shrieked. It turns out that the goose was lurching, not at me, but at one of its cohort, to discourage him from a particularly crusty hunk of bread. Greedy bastard. In any case, at my high-pitched squeal, one of the brute-feeding girls looked at me judgmentally, like I was the odd one– as if she didn’t look like a kid from a horror movie who would have a goose perching on each shoulder.
It took almost as long for me to stop trembling as for Phil to stop laughing, but I’m not embarrassed by my reaction. Looking at a bird, you can’t tell if it has a friendly disposition. All you can see is its beady eyes and dagger-like nose.
Birds are devious by nature. Think about it– has a bird ever been portrayed as lovable and heroic in the media? Don’t be fooled by the long lashes and chirpy voice of Tweety Bird. What is he other than a cross-dressing, conniving canary who lives to frame his foe (this may be the only time I sympathize with a cat). Then there’s Iago, the cunning macaw who roosts on the malice of Jafar. But what about Mother Goose? you say. Please, I’ve seen geese. That hag would drown her biddies for a good piece of Italian bread. And, seriously, what do we really know about Big Bird? Where did he come from, how did he get so big, and what does he do that he can afford to nest in a brownstone right off Sesame Street?
No, birds cannot be trusted.
(I salute the girl in the above photo for recognizing the grave capabilities of a Parakeet.)