You know, I’m not really a big fan of birds (the Byrds, yes, birds, no). Okay, truth be told, I find them horrible and creepy, more than is strictly reasonable — if in fact there’s a degree of finding-birds-horrible-and-creepy that could be characterised as “reasonable”. Mostly, of course, my distaste for birds doesn’t matter, doesn’t have an impact on my life — except when preparing a whole chicken for consumption. Yow. Now that is the stuff nightmares are made of. Mostly, however, I don’t think about birds or worry about birds.
Once tho’, once a little sparrow got caught between the double windows in the place I worked. I was all alone when it happened and I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t bring myself to perform the simple act it would have taken to rescue it, couldn’t make myself just reach up between the two panes of glass, grasp the little creature, and gently pull it down and out. It would have been very simple and not at all injurious to the sparrow but I couldn’t do it. Instead, I went down to the building management office and asked if they could send the caretaker to free it. They said they would but he never showed up and the bird stayed trapped. At one point, my pity and guilt and desire to be done with this badness prompted me to approach the window and put my hand up between the two sheets of glass, but the brush of the bird’s foot across my hand made me back away in revulsion, without freeing the bird. Only when my colleague arrived at the office and matter-of-factly did what I should have done did that little bird gain its freedom. It flew away with vigour as soon as it was freed, probably making a beeline for the nearest wire on which to perch and consult with its fellow perchers while plotting its revenge on me.
God, it’s so weird, that stuff, that phobic stuff. Where does it come from? I’ve never had an unpleasant run-in with a bird. Never. But the thought of touching one makes my skin crawl. I’m not a squeamish person, either: blood and guts don’t bother me, bugs don’t bother me, spiders don’t bother me, snakes don’t bother me, toads don’t bother me, lizards don’t bother me, bats don’t bother me, the Kraken doesn’t bother me, being rickrolled doesn’t bother me, adults with body hair don’t bother me, but birds? Jaysus lord, keep those horrors away from me.
And yet, and yet … I like looking at them as long as I don’t feel like they can get too close. Or are real. Or alive. Yeah. Fake dead birds at a distance. Now those suckers rock my world. Those guys can intrude on my consciousness any time they like. Here and now, even. On this page, even. For all the world, including the bird-phobic, to see, until global warming turns everyone and everything to molten goo or the birds take over and take away our internets. Because you just know that’s how those beady-eyed tiny-craniumed motherpluckers are gonna roll.