It’s almost Friday evening and I’m sitting in the park across from the Coronado Public Library. The book I’m reading is not riveting my attention in the way one always hopes as a reader. I find my attention being drawn to the flock of squalling birds that are sucking around me for something. Pigeons.
Now they seem kind of cute, and on the heels of this sentiment I realize, holy shit: I’ve turned into one of those old guys in the park!
I have this impulse that frightens me. Feed them. What? Uh ... popcorn or peanuts? I guess it's what you do, or is there such a thing as pigeon food at a pet store?
Old guys know about this stuff, I'm assuming. And I'm dangerously close to becoming one of them.
It may already be too late. This is one of those deal where, once it becomes conscious, it is a fait accompli.
So, I set down the book. Not a bad book by any means, it's just that the pigeons are calling to me now and they dearly need my attention.
What I have to offer them is some beef jerky and blue corn tortilla chips. They're not getting my Mountain Dew. Anyway, I don't think they'd be interested. I wonder if they want me to talk to them? I decide, well, maybe. So I do.
"You know, boys, when I was a kid, I used to think of you guys as, well, kind of disgusting. No offense. We used to have these things called Fizzies. Remember them? Yup, oet you do. You know, they were these giant candy tablets that when you ,hopped them in water, they would fizz and turn bad, Midwestern sulfur water Into I Kind of fruity soda pop that wasn't very good, but that wasn't the point. It was the fizz .
"Well some of your parents might have told you stories about this and I'm here to tell you they're true.
"We'd go up on the rooftop and some of my friends even kept pigeons in a coop — though I don't know why. Just mean, maybe, or they had some affection for your kind. No idea. It's a crazy world.
"Well, as I'm sure you heard, what we would do is break up these Fizzies and scatter them around the rooftop like feed, like popcorn. Course, you pigeons would all eat whatever we threw around and sometimes there were things like candy or Cornuts mixed in.
"We figured you'd take off and in the middle of the sky somewhere, those Fizzies would start reacting. So we pictured all these damn pigeons flying over the west side of Chicago exploding like fireworks in the air making people look up and ask themselves, 'What the fuck was that?'
"Well, we had TV in those days, of course, and the White Sox were good, and we had Ernie Banks, but there's a certain kind of fun you can only have on your own, if you know what I mean.
"I can't say, myself, that I saw any of your kind actually explode, but I still hear tales about it from folks who were there back then. So I'm just tellin' you, it's no myth."
Meanwhile the day is getting pretty warm and my Mountain Dew certainly is no longer cold. I decide to spill it in small puddles so the pigeons can drink it. They check it out but figure it for the poison that it is, I suppose, and just kind of waddle away.
I pick up the book again and I find it more interesting than I did 20 minutes ago — or whatever it was. .
A woman, I think from a nearby bank has seated herself near me with her lunch. "Who where you talking to?" She asks, "I couldn't help but overhear. It sounded fascinating; what were you saying?"
"Oh, I was talkin' to the pigeons," "I commune with nature often," "Yeah?"
"I like long walks on the beach."
"Well, if you have to, you have to, might as well enjoy it." "So what were you saying to your penguin friends?"
"They're pigeons, not penguins,"
"So what were you saying?"
"Oh, I was just talkin' about blowin' 'em up and stuff."
She got up then and I didn't see her anymore. I kept watching the pigeons, I kept hoping to see some reaction at all to my tale and my time taken to address these birds as equals, I might as well have been a statue in a park and a likely depository for pigeon guano.