Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I don't like birds.

Yet, I've been forced to think about them fairly regularly for the past few days. First, though, a little background...

I have thoroughly disliked birds since I was a kid. I don't remember how old I was when my severe distaste developed, but it doesn't really matter. I saw the Hitchcock movie "The Birds" when I was a kid, but that didn't really bother me. What really bothered me was a dream I had. I was on my grandparents' front porch and I was being repeatedly attacked by a bird, fluttering around, beating its wings furiously against gravity and my face, pecking and clawing and scratching. Every time I'd try to wave it away, I would miss because it had flown to some other hemisphere of my head. Needless to say, I did not wake up in a good mood that next morning.

Which leads us to the present. This week has been bird-filled, kind of like the pie in "Sing A Song of Sixpence". (What sickos came up with classic nursery rhymes, by the way? A King digging into a pie filled with blackbirds? I guess that's a topic for another day...) First of all, it's that time of the year when Canada geese are migrating and the office park I work in happens to be a popular rest stop along the way. So I'll often hear the honking of geese throughout the day as they fly over. Or, as the case was yesterday, two of them just decided to hang out on the sidewalk in front of my building and honk. They were kind of milling around and honking, looking like they were trying to hail a cab or something. It was like a Far Side comic come to life. And as my desk is right next to a window, I had a good view of their antics. This, of course, led to one of my office mates coming over to see just what it was I was staring at. He cracked that I ought to go down and grab one. I cracked back that I ought to bring one up into the office and watch hilarity ensue.

Then it hit me: I could never do that.

All I could picture was myself holding this medicine ball-sized creature in my arms while its two-foot-long neck/beak combo unleashed its worst on me like an out-of-control fire hose.
I sat back down at my desk and listened to the sultry tones of goose honking the rest of the morning. After a while, though, I decided to look outside and see if the two wayward travelers were still loitering on the sidewalk. To my surprise, they had left, leaving only their greenish-brown calling card on the pavement. But I still heard faint honking. I looked all over the place for the source, but I couldn't find it. At this point, I was starting to wonder if the ventilation system was making this noise but I couldn't pin it to that, either. I remembered seeing geese standing on the roof of our building a while back, so I figured that must be it: They're holding a board meeting on our roof and I was the unlucky chump who had to record the minutes.

Several nights previous to these encounters, I had a less sonorous bird experience. I was walking out to my car at night. Just before I got to the parking lot, something bowling ball-shaped zipped silently past my face. I realized that an owl had been perched on the handicap parking sign a few feet to my left and as I was starting to walk past, it hurled its seemingly un-aerodynamic body right past me. Thankfully, it happened so fast that I didn't have time to freak out.

Today, I went to Wendy's and got some lunch to eat while sitting in my car. I rolled the driver's side window down as it was pleasant outside, but not the passenger's side window. And thank God I didn't. As I was eating my burger and listening to sports radio, a robin came flying right at the closed window and perched itself on my door. In response to this action, I let out a decidedly unmanly "Aaahh!" The robin looked in at me with its evil, soulless eyes while I tried to catch my breath. One of its buddies then came along and challenged it to a worm eating contest that I viewed as it played out in front of me in the parking lot.

After the robin had its fill of worms, it then decided to challenge another robin. Except this one appeared to be a familiar opponent: Itself. It was perched on the door of another car in the parking lot, looking at itself in the side-view mirror, posturing and pecking as if it was another bird. I watched this for a couple of minutes with my hand at the ready to roll up my window in case it should come back my direction. I then noticed that it had relieved itself upon the door of the car it was sitting on. I thought to myself, "That poor sucker. He's going to be wondering why he has such a large concentration of bird crap on his door even though he's parked out in the middle of the lot, away from all trees and overhead lines." Of course, the next day I went out to my car to find a nearly identical pattern of bird droppings on my car door.

And to top it all off, the only birds I really like, the Jayhawks, picked the worst possible time to play their worst game of the year and were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament one game short of the Final Four.

Man, I hate birds.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Losing It

I was driving home from work one night, thinking about how I really need to make an effort to get in shape and drop a few pounds. Should I start going to the Community Center, maybe 24 Hour Fitness? Maybe I should get one of those contraptions they sell on TV. Of course, I also need to cut down on the double-cheeseburgers and Chipotle mega-burritos.

As I emerged from my fitness daydream, I realized that a car had been following me for some time. Since I take a fairly distinct and circuitous route home, it seemed more than a coincidence that this car would be still be tailing me after such a long while. From what I could tell, it was a Ford SUV, an Explorer or Excursion or Extortion or something. It was black, so black that it was almost green. And its windows were tinted, including the windshield, which I thought was illegal. The windshield wasn't as dark as the rest of the windows, though, so I could still see into the car if the light was right.

I decided to alter my course a bit, just to see what would happen. I waited as long as I could and then veered off onto the exit ramp for Shawnee Mission Parkway. Sure enough, the driver of the SUV wrenched the steering wheel and continued the pursuit, fishtailing through the grass and back onto the pavement.

Just as the car righted itself, the sun shone perfectly the windshield and illuminted the driver. It wasn't a man at all; it was an amorphous blob with no actual arms to steer with, just extensions of goo wrapped around the wheel. It was somewhat translucent but with a shade of pale yellow or beige, kind of like the last few sips of a watered-down iced tea.

While my mind was trying to sort out this bizarre set of circumstances, I noticed the personalized license plate of my pursuer: THEWGHT.

And then it all clicked:

I was trying to lose "The Weight".

Somehow, the combination of my physical flab and my mental picture of it had loosed itself from my body and become its own entity, chasing me through the streets of Johnson County.

I regrouped and focused on the road ahead, intent on losing "The Weight" for good. I accelerated and started zipping in and out of traffic. "The Weight" was not to be deterred; it deftly manuevered through the holes that I had navigated and stayed right on my tail.

Then I had an idea.

I picked up an apple that had fallen out of Samantha's lunch sack that morning and started eating it. I also grabbed the passenger-side seatbelt and started doing curls. I looked into the rearview mirror again and noticed that "The Weight" had lost some ground. Quickly, I lowered my seat back as far as it could go and started doing mini-crunches, leaning just far enough back that I could still see where I was going. With each sit-up I completed, I noticed "The Weight" dropping further and further behind.

When I finally got home, I looked around, hoping that disgusting sack of fat wasn't lurking behind a bush or fence. Once I realized that the coast was clear, I breathed a deep sigh of relief. I had lost "The Weight". Right then and there I resolved to start eating less Twinkies and to quit using elevators.