Have You Ever Tripped a Bird? - 2006/12/19

It was the spring of 1999 and all the migratory birds were heading back north including that great flying poop machine, the Canada goose. If you're unfamiliar with these large birds here's some info: they eat grass. I'm not joking, they really do eat grass; they're like flying cows. Most birds eat insects or seeds, but Canada geese literally dine on your front lawn. So, it's not like they have a hard time finding food, hence their rotund shape. As they hang out in your town, their dark green cylindrical turds end up covering everything. The sidewalks, your car, anything without a fecal-proof top get a nice coating of their natural fertilizer. Getting grass stains on your clothes are bad enough, but grass stains from bird poo is just plain wrong.

This story takes place in the parking lot of the Great Lakes Crossing Mall in Auburn Hills Michigan. (A quick aside: The Great Lakes Crossing Mall is nowhere near any of the Great Lakes. It would take an hour of speeding down the expressway even see one. Basically, it's named in such a way to give pride to the residents of the Michigan who adore the surrounding Great Lakes, but because of its location the name is merely a marketing gimmick, and a bad one at that. Okay, back to the story...).

So anyway, there I am in the parking lot and my girlfriend at the time is in the passenger seat, most likely talking about something inane. I have more important things to do than listen to her because in the distance I see a dissimulation of geese. The flock is hanging out by the curb of the road--munching on the lawn like they tend to do, not another car nearby. I decided that they needed the fear of god put into them so I push down the gas and turn my car towards them (not to hit them, mind you, just to give them a scare).

As I close in, most of the birdies just stay put. It's obvious that they have seen their share of cars driving past them today, but even more obvious that they have never seen me before (bwa ha ha!). The distance to them is shrinking awfully fast now. My girlfriend tells me to watch out for the geese, but with a mischievous grin I bare down on the accelerator even more.

It was either the sight of my rapidly nearing vehicle or the sound of my revving engine, but the geese finally figure out that I am getting far too close for comfort and they begin to haphazardly jump out of the way. Canada geese aren't exactly the light-on-their-feet kind of birds, but most of them are able to awkwardly move out of the road and up onto the curb. One in particular is a little slow at getting off his fat butt (probably smoked more grass than he ate).

My girlfriend grabs my thigh and tenses up trying to slam on the imaginary brake pedal on her side of the floor. I am all smiles as we zoom past only a few feet from the geese. At the last minute the only remaining confused avian panics while trying to get out of the road and is unable to decide whether it wants to walk, jump, or fly. Being so top heavy it fails at all three and its legs trip on the curb sending it tail over wing.

How can I describe the hilarity of a large bird tripping on a curb? It was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen; a bird, so graceful in flight and yet so clumsy on the ground. Its wings flailed around trying to balance itself, but gravity took over allowing it to perform a lovely face-plant that would make an amateur skateboarder cringe. I smiled in the same way I smile when I witness a small child taking a tumble down the stairs. You kind of feel bad that the child is hurt, but you can't help but laugh at the funny faces they make as they fall.

Okay, maybe that's a little morbid, but even if children falling down stairs don't make you giggle, the most compassionate individual would have to laugh at the tipsy bird. Well okay not everyone. My girlfriend just gave me a stern reprimanded, something about nature being precious or what not; I was too proud of myself to hear her. To this day I can't figure out why we broke up. She mentioned something about blah blah blah, and then left. It's a mystery.

Here's a not-so-important fact: the name of the particular goose is always "Canada" goose not "Canadian" goose. Sure, it sounds like it should be Canadian geese because they're from Canada; just like you would say Canadian beer or Canadian garbage, but as far as the goose is concerned it's always just Canada goose.

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