Monday, June 27, 2011

wtf bird

At no time in my life before today did a bird ever fly into me.

I was walking home, up the hill from the shuttle stop at 24th and Castro, when a bird looking just like this one winged my shoulder. By 'winged my shoulder' I mean exactly that. He swooped in from behind and clipped my shoulder with his wing.

Startled I paused, catching the bird out of the corner of my eye as he flew past, before continuing up the hill. As I did, I tried to recall if I had ever been hit by a bird before.

After a moment I realized I had not. In fact, the only time I could remember even hearing of somebody being struck by a bird was in a Seinfeld episode when one flies into Elaine's head in Central Park, edifying her conviction that she had a big head, just as her boyfriend had told her. (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss does have a big head.)

Struck by the novelty of the event, I was reminded of the time I saw a squirrel fall out of a tree onto the sidewalk before me, and I was just about to put this freak occurence in the natural world on the shelf next to that one when, a block later, the same bird flew into my shoulder again.

"What the fuck, bird!" I shouted.

Fortunately I wasn't near a schoolyard when I uttered my obscenity (unlike my encounter with the squirrel) but an older lady walking her dog had just passed me, going downhill. I noticed her looking up the sidewalk at me as I spun around, trying to see where the bird had gone.

I could see that it had flown up to the eave of a house lining the street and was perched there, looking down at the sidewalk. Anticipating another dive bomb at my shoulder, I ran up the block.

Two facts that help explain my schoolgirlish reaction:

1) Whenever I remember any of my dreams (a fortunately seldom occurrence) I'm always being pursued.

2) My greatest fear is being consumed by tiny, little mouths. (The scene in Jurassic Park (2?) where the guy who likes to zap dinosaurs with a Tazer gets eaten by a pack of the little ones he zapped -- that's my worst nightmare. To be eaten by many small things. If given the choice, I'll always choose to be chomped in half by a Great White before, say, being dropped in a pool of piranha.)

As I ducked under the awning of the shop (a pet shop) on the corner of the block, I started to wonder whether it was one black bird or if I had been mistaken -- that there were two, and if so, how many more were there? Instantly Hitchcock's The Birds came to mind, and I began to wonder how safe I was seeking shelter beneath the awning of a pet shop in that case.

There was a bus stop on the corner. I dug my iPhone out of my pocket and quickly checked the bus schedule. Another wasn't due for more than 10 minutes.

I bolted across the street and crossed through the dog park there, thinking all the dogs and fetching going on might scramble a flock of birds' radar. It did. The rest of the way up the hill, every three steps turning crazy Ivans, I didn't see a single bird following me.

When I got home, my girlfriend asked if I had been wearing anything shiny. It had been my first thought once I was certain I was no longer under attack. I was wearing a black jacket, with black zippers. No jewelry, ever. Nothing reflective that would have caused a bird to spaz the way I'd seen my friend Ambrose's bird Murphy absolutely lose its shit in front of the mirror in its cage.

Now that I'm clear, and calm, I'm pretty sure it was just one bird. No evidence to suggest more. But I'm still baffled as to why I got dive-bombed. I walk the same route home from the shuttle stop every day. Was wearing nothing shiny and exciting. Can't think of any reason why I'd get hit twice in two blocks by a bird.

Unless it was trying to tell me something. Be the bird on my shoulder. The little bird that told me.

Maybe it was trying to say quit the job at Apple. Move away from San Francisco. Leave that girlfriend of yours.

Nah, I don't think so. To any of the above.

But what then could it have been trying to say?

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