Disclaimer: Normally, I am a friend to all living things.
I’m driving along the interstate, heading home for an online business meeting. The speed limit’s 55, give or take 10 mph, but you didn’t hear that from me, especially if you’re a state cop. Those guys appear out of nowhere when you’re driving along minding your own business exceeding the speed limit.
I’m in a Zen state of mind, and by that I mean I’m imagining the snack lineup at home, when all of a sudden, out of the blue—well, actually out of the woods on my right—flies a wee little birdie, car level, right into the front of my car. Thud. You would not think a small thing would cause such a noise, but then again, there is much to be said for velocity.
My heart sinks. My stomach lurches. I’m in the middle of nowhere, traumatized (I believe Mr. or Ms. Birdie is, also.) But since there is nothing I can do, I drive on, leaving it in the dust, or woods, to return to the earth.
Ten minutes later, I pull off to get a cold beverage at a highway mini-mart. It occurs to me that the bird may have left a mark, and I just can’t handle that. So all the way into the store, I remind myself to avoid looking at the front of the car.
“Don’t look, don’t look, don’t look,” I repeat silently, as I fetch a cold bottle of seltzer and pay.
“Don’t look,” I tell my brain, as I make my way to the door.
“Hmm…maybe I should pick up a sandwich for later.”
Oh, crap. I forgot to not look.
Here’s the thing. When you leave a convenience store and walk to your car, the last thing you want is see a dead bird in all its feathered glory impaled into the grill of your car. And the last thing you want to do is draw attention to it.
I sit behind the driver’s seat, shaken. Breathing. Thinking that AAA probably won’t make a highway call for this.
I start the engine. I still have an hour’s drive. Could the bird free itself and fly onto my front window, a la Hitchcock?
It’s a hot day, but I don’t dare to 1) open my window, because, well, dead bird, possibly airborne, or 2) turn on the vent or air because, well, dead bird also. Does air come in through the grill? I don’t want to find out.
I get back on the road and pray for a cop. I try speeding to see if I can find one. Nothing.
You know, there’s never a cop around when you have a bird stuck in your car grill.
I wonder how many people who drive near me see the poor thing. I avoid eye contact with other drivers. Business as usual. Nothing to look at here…
Once home, I pull into my driveway (no way is that thing going inside my garage), and leave the car near the garden, hoping some wild woodsy creature will snag it for a late-night snack.
I open my computer and join the now-in-session meeting.
Between a “second the motion” and an “I object,” I search my fridge for supper. Uh oh. Leftover Peking duck. I pull out the PB&J.
Later, I peek outside. Still there.
Bet you think I bravely go out to remove it.
No, I do not. Instead, I meditate on why I ever told my nice doctor that I was all done with tranquilizers.
The next morning, the situation is—unfortunately—status quo. True, I am a friend to all living things, but when freaking out, I need a little help. If my late husband were here, he’d gleefully make this a science project.
Attempting rational thought, I call my daughter Cassie. I count seven shouts of “Oh no!” and three utterances of “Oh, my God.” And those are just from me.
“Maybe I can just drive through a car wash and see if that takes care of the, um, problem,” I say.
“Sure,” she says, “that should do it, because people have dead birds in their car grills every day…”
Donning sunglasses (no, it’s not sunny), Dad’s old fishing hat and a fake mustache (apologies to my electrologist), I drive to a car place to fix the “issue.”
In the end, I find a fearless hero, a sweet and brave young man who winces only once (OK, twice) as he gallantly performs the necessary task, while I hide within the confines of my locked car (because DEAD BIRD), screaming. Loudly.
I only hope that if this ever happens again, the bird flies way, way over this cuckoo’s nest.
Kathy Eliscu, a retired RN, received a National Society of Newspaper Columnists Humor award in 2012 for her Maine Women magazine column. She is the author of “Not Even Dark Chocolate Can Fix This Mess,” a humor novel. She blogs at www.kathyeliscu.com and lives in Westbrook.