A few days ago, I put on my father’s IT support person’s hat on and tried to help him hack into his own Apple account so he could buy an app. It was fairly easy, or should have been, as it was the same IT support person who had once created the account and the password to go with it. However, once again, I had been too clever for my own good, or the good of my father, because I simply couldn’t remember the password and had to take the bonus round: the secret password questions.
First question: What was the name of your first pet?
Since the questions were designed to retrieve my father’s password, not mine, I hesitated at first, but then asked him, “Maybe Roope?”
“Nooooo,” he said, “who’s Roope?”
Roope was a bird, a magpie, that Dad had found by the side of the road with a broken wing, and he decided to help him get better so Roope got a home with us. He traveled in a cardboard box in the back of our car. When his wing healed, we drove up to Grandma’s one last time, and let him fly away.
I went back and reset the secret questions to something we absolutely knew the answers to, but I should have known that I wouldn’t have chosen Roope anyway.
I hate birds.
I think Roope may be completely innocent, though, and that my strained relationship with birds probably goes further back than that. Maybe I don’t like birds because I’m scared of them. And maybe I’m scared of all birds because the Thunderbirds, the TV puppets, scared me. It was something about the way the puppets’ mouths moved (or didn’t). Whatever the reason, I don’t like birds – any birds, not even peacocks or penguins – and refer to them as “flying dinosaurs”.
There were a lot pheasants at Grandma and Grandpa’s place but I don’t remember chasing them, or worse, them chasing me. For years, birds and I seemed to have an understanding and we kept our distance. I stopped chasing pigeons at squares, and they didn’t stop pooping on my car.
And then suddenly, they were attacking me. There was that one seagull who pooped on my shoulder outside the Royal palace in Stockholm. I know it was a seagull because as soon as the poop landed on my shoulder, I looked up and saw him flying away. But I never forget a face!
Then, that same year, Wife and I were having a nice summer dinner with our friends, under the tree at a cottage when suddenly another slime bomb landed right in the middle of the table. I jumped up and away as quickly as I could, something that in a weird way impressed Wife, who hadn’t paid attention to my athleticism or agility until then.
There was that one in the Helsinki zoo. Wife, unaware of my thing with birds, tried to get me to look at one, an owl, and admittedly, a pretty cool looking one at that. It was a white snowy owl, with those big, mesmerizing owl eyes, and it seemed to be looking at us with the same admiration that we had for it. (At least one of us did). Then it slowly turned around, turned its back on us – and took a crap.
Nobody puts Baby in the corner – or turns his back on Baby and takes a crap at Baby!
You know what else nobody should do? Especially if one is a big old white rooster? For one, he shouldn’t sneak up on a baby and then grab a hot dog from his chubby little hands, so that his father has to show his athleticism and agility by jumping up from the table, chase the rooster for a while, while afraid that the bird will turn around and attack him because, seriously, what is he going to do against those dinosaur claws?
I try not to talk about birds too much, and even point out any and all bird visitors at our bird feeder to the kids, but last fall, I realized I’m probably not doing a very job. Son texted me from the park on his way to the library and the message came with a photo of a bird and the text: “Some fool has given food to birds.”
I read and re-read the message a few times, trying to figure out the best course of action. I do think the Bird Lady – a name Wife and I have naturally given to the lady who comes to the park daily – is a fool to spray the park with bread crumbs for the birds. Especially since these are not cute little birds, these are big and ugly birds that can perfectly well hunt their own food at a market square somewhere.
The birds always circle above the park so that I can see them hundreds of meters away. And when I do, I may ride my bike a little closer to that side of the bike lane, and maybe I ring my bell a little louder than other times.
But Son’s never seen Thunderbirds, and while he may remember the rooster (because he seems to look around him every time he gets a hot dog), as far as I know, he’s got nothing against birds. If anything, he’s a true animal lover, and I wouldn’t want to change that.
So I did what any good father in a 1950s movie would have done, and changed the subject.
“I know, I’ve seen a lady there before … You on your way home already?” I texted him back from our front yard where I was sitting.
Then I got up, and saw birds circling around a few hundred meters from our house. I sat down cursing.
About ten years ago, Wife and I, and one of her oldest friends, watched the entire first season “24” together. After that, we watched every single episode of “Columbo”, then a box of Jacques Tati’s movies, then all the Bond movies. Just before Xmas, we watched “Skyfall” so we were looking for a new movie project.
“Hitchcock?” asked Wife, and Hitchcock it was.
She bought a box of his best works, and the other night, we watched “The Rear Window”. Next up is “Vertigo”, then “Psycho”, and then, finally, “Birds”.
I know who I’ll be cheering for.