Sunday, November 2, 2008

Another Of Your Author's Secret Fears Revealed

Okay, I've got a question, and I want an answer now:

"What is the deal with birds flying around inside supermarkets?". You heard me.

This is not some paranoiac rant [I've done enough of those over the years that I think you'd know the difference]. This is a legitimate question, dammit! I keep seeing birds flying around inside supermarkets [I took the photo at left so that you'd believe me. Unfortunately, the camera was set on "portrait" and the bird flew out of frame. But it's there. Just out of your field of vision, but it's there!]. I can be in a store, picking up a loaf of bread and some cereal, and there the filth-carrying creature is, flying across the supermarket, as unconcerned as can be [do birds feel concern? How the Hell should I know? I'm a blogger, dammit, not a scientist!].

As you may have guessed from this entry's title, birds flying around inside a supermarket plays into one of my Secret Fears. It's not that I'm going out of my way to keep them secret; otherwise, this post would almost certainly be about something else. They're just fears that aren't obvious to the nekkid eye when you first see me [like the fear of losing the four or five hairs that desperately cling to the top of my head; talk about your endangered species!]. Lord knows, we all have them [hey, if you were perfectly adjusted, would you be reading/writing blogs?]. One of mine, obviously, is birds flying around inside a building. Birds flying around outside, oddly enough, make no impression on me one way or the other. But get them flying around inside your [otherwise] Friendly Neighborhood Building, and Mr. Riley is, well, unnerved.

Oh, crap! There's one now! Wait a minute, it's outside. And it's a photo. Turn off the alarms, boys. Let the adrenaline run out. No danger here! Seriously though, just like Mr. Jackson and his disliked Snakes On A Plane [why do I have a feeling that that phrase turns up in standard lists of waitress lingo? I don't know what kind of sandwich comes up when you order it, but I'll wager that's where the phrase comes from], birds flying around inside a building turns the contents of my digestive track to liquid. I once had two friends who operated a pet store. Very nice place, all in all. The animals they sold were well-cared for and healthy, and the store was clean and friendly [of course, it closed within 18 months. Maybe people really prefer "pet mill" animals]. The only thing I truly disliked about the store were the parrots and cockerels that were allowed to fly around the store. Their wings had been clipped [a standard practice in such matters, I'm told, and not injurious to the birds], so they couldn't fly far, but they did have the freedom of the place. Unlike supermarket birds, they did not stay close to ceiling level, but flew at a height of about 5' 7 1/2" off the ground. This put them at head height, in relationship to me [and, of course, just over the heads of the store owners]. Nothing like a bright red, beak-and-claw equipped creature known to capture animals in mid-flight, zooming straight for you, wanting to perch, adorably, on your shoulder. Perhaps if I were a peg-legged, crusty old sea captain [instead of a crusty old blogger], I'd be more interested in the photo op. As it is, though, not so much.

But enough about me. Let's return to the birds in supermarket question. I've asked around [you'd be surprised how little formal information exists on this vital issue], and my "experts" [some of whom work in supermarkets, some do not] have given me the following theories:

-supermarkets get constructed around them. Maybe. Birds nest in some rather surprising places, and I can see the appeal of a building skeleton to your young couple interested in starting a family. But why then do you almost never see birds in other types of newly-constructed building?

-they fly in through open supermarket doors, seeking warmth. Okay, I understand that. But, again, why are they so rare in other types of buildings?

-birds fly in through the loading doors in back of the supermarket, then fly into the main part of the store. Again, clear enough. I can even picture a hungry bird choosing a supermarket as a good source of food. But other types of stores sell food [non-Super Center Wal-Marts, for instance], and you almost never see birds in them! A related question; if you shop at one of these bird-infested supermarkets, have you ever seen food damaged by some gull catching a quick breakfast? I never have, and I frequently shop very early in a market's business day [they can't have found all the opened packages, every time]. If they're not eating there, where and what do they eat? And do I truly not want to know?
Oh, God! Not again! And there's a hundred of them! No, wait. Outside. Photo. Calm down. Anyway, this bird thing can really wear a guy out. And not in a good way.
No birds [or humans] were injured in the making of this post.
Personal note: November 4th [Tuesday] is Election Day in the United States. No matter who you support, please get out and vote for them...
-Mike Riley


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