It’s a word I can’t hear without it reverberating in my head in the voice of a former coworker who apparently believed pigeons were responsible for all the ill in the world, or at the very least all the illness in the office.
“Pigeons,” she’d spit, in a tone some people reserve only for mentions of Hitler. Or liberals.
There’s a pigeon in a nest on the roof of my house.
(I don’t know if it’s a liberal, but it’s certainly not Hitler.)
I don’t think this pigeon is causing any ill. Mostly, I think she just wants to raise a family and bring more pigeons into the world. Granted, she didn’t get off to a great start- it took her two months to build a nest, because for two months all the twigs she put on the roof slid to the ground. Eventually, she got it right, and about two weeks ago there were eggshells on the ground that lead me to believe there may now be chicks in the nest.
Mostly, I just like hearing her coo.
It’s a simple sound. Full of simple happiness. And while it may be enough to drive others to craziness, I am not one of them.
I think the cats can hear her, though. It’s the only reason I can think of for their craziness. Meowing at things that aren’t there. Staring at walls, or the ceiling. Jumping on the toilet a split second before I start to use it, causing a painful sudden failure to void.
Lying on my keyboard when I’m trying to get work done.
I have to blame the pigeons, because the only other option is to believe that cats, in general, are neurotic.
Or that my antiavarian coworker was equally neurotic. Granted, that would explain a few things about her as well, but at least she never surprised me when I was trying to use the bathroom. Thank goodness – because the only thing worse than having the pee scared out of you is to have it scared back in to you.
To me, pigeons are simply one of the least frightening things there are in the world. In small numbers, of course. Practically anything is scary in large enough quantities. Which makes me shudder when I think about large quantities of things that are frightening in small quantities.
It only takes one rat to ruin my day. Actually, half a rat can ruin my day. Because then I don’t know where the other half is, whether it’s inside the cat, or if the cat left it somewhere for me to find.
Or, even more deviously, the cat wants me to think there’s half a rat somewhere to find. The more I don’t find it, the worse it gets, until eventually I’m sitting in the corner cooing to myself like a secretly-psychotic pigeon.
There aren’t many tangible things of which I’m unrealistically afraid. Rodents are one of the few. (Ok, clowns as well, sure – but who isn’t?) It kind of makes me sad for beavers. And capybaras. They’re the cool rodents that shake their heads at the rest of the family giving them all a bad name, and they really don’t deserve the negativity.
Sometimes, intangible fears are the worst, which is why nightmares are so terrible. It’s one thing to dream about being chased by uncountable numbers of rats … it’s another to dream about being chased by uncountable numbers of rats while you’re in your underwear trying to find the room where the math test is being given that you have to pass or else your university will take back the diploma you earned over 20 years ago just because they made a mistake counting up your credit hours, and everyone you know is watching.
(Deadlines are an intangible fear. But deadlines don’t frighten me so much as they startle me – jumping out at me from the dark once I’ve forgotten that they’re there, which is how I find myself furiously typing away at 10 pm on the last day of the month.)
Children are a tangible fear. Especially when they stare up at you, head lowered, gazing at you with their beady little eyes, like they have some sort of secret mental ability to make you feel uncomfortable …
(If I’m dead tomorrow, blame the children and their need for revenge after I exposed their secret.)
It all comes back, improbably, to the cooing.
Rats don’t coo.
Deadlines don’t coo.
Math tests don’t coo, either.
It’s hard to think of anything that coos as being an evil threat …
I may have just exposed another secret.
If I’m dead tomorrow, my maybe-not-so-neurotic coworker was right.
It wasn’t the children.
It was the pigeons all along.