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downers: birds

Some fears you are born with. Others take time to develop. Like my brother’s fear of heights, discovered inconveniently at the age of 20, right before we boarded a mountain cable car near Banff. Or my fear of flying, which has developed over the last ten years into a real impediment to the jet-setting lifestyle that I’d envisioned for myself as a child.

My fear of birds started slowly. When other kids would chase after birds at parks with day-old bread, I’d feel compelled to run in the opposite direction. Birds have beady, unblinking eyes, greasy feathers, and webby/bony feet that end in claws both sharp and unsanitary. They move unpredictably, with little forewarning. You’ll think a bird is walking safely away from you when it will suddenly veer off course and charge at you with aggressive neck bobs. I didn’t verify the info on Wikipedia or anything but I think birds are responsible for SARS, avian flu, and chicken pox. Anyway, I don’t like birds. Except for owls, which have a nice look about them. I thought I learned at some point that owls are not actually birds, and perhaps, that they give live birth (??), but when I asked Tom about that he started getting one of those pained and depressed looks he gets when I ask a question not to his liking. Like, are marsupials mammals; does Wisconsin border Kentucky—the kind of question that usually garners this response: “Yoona. You went to COLLEGE.”

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i’d free you, bird, but you might peck my eyes out

Anyway, I go out of my way to avoid birds. So imagine my horror when I recently stayed in a hotel that not only features live birds as part of the décor, but encourages said birds to mingle in spaces that IMHO should be reserved exclusively for humans. The first day, I got lost on my way to the pool and wandered into a bird habitat filled with lazy and unclean swans. The birdshit-strewn path in the habitat wends its way around and ends in a footbridge that crosses a koi pond. Koi rank somewhere between grubs and birds in my regard. They are overgrown, disgusting, and likely riddled with worms, and I know that if I ever have the misfortune to accidentally fall into a koi pond, I will expire immediately from sheer terror.

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the only thing i love more than birds is quasi-asian statuary

Between the swans and the koi and the mandals on all the tourists stopped on the path, I found myself in the middle of my own personal nightmare. The only way it could have been scarier is if Gwyneth Paltrow was there. As I sprinted down the path, I got so panicked that I tripped on the footbridge and fell headfirst into the poolside lounge on the other side. Some well-oiled teens in bikinis pointed and snickered. But I didn’t even care about my ignominious spill. Because I was free. Safely delivered from the birds.

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25 Comments Post a comment
  1. Reblogged this on aminukawu.

    October 7, 2012
  2. Birds at least donate eggs to breakfast and feathers to fashion and some of them can sing, passably. If anybody can find any reason at all – even ONE – that gerbils should exist much less be foisted off to come into an innocent’s family home to multiply as untouchably terrifying pets? I’d rather kiss a bird than be in the same city block with a gerbil (shudders, goes to wash hands repeatedly).

    August 23, 2012
    • gerbils and hamsters are gross. the concept of having rodents in the home as pets, generally, is gross. but that’s just one woman’s opinion

      August 30, 2012
      • You are one especially smart woman so your opinion counts at least double. That you are agreeing with me? Puts you in “must be obeyed immediately and without question” territory. Because, that’s why.

        August 30, 2012
  3. Rachel #

    Thank you for including Gwenyth as The Thing That Makes Everything Worse. I bet deep inside she is a filthy bird.

    August 22, 2012
  4. Akie #

    This was great! Swans and geese are not my favorites: I was bitten by a goose as a small, hapless child. I later watched swans terrorize some children on a gravel lakeshore before the ferry arrived—that was a good time because I was on the pier, safely removed from the unfolding catastrophe. If only those kids hadn’t run out of bread!

    August 21, 2012
    • i can’t imagine how you ever got over that trauma. i was chased down by a doberman when i was seven; i am still very fearful of them

      August 22, 2012
  5. Hilarious! I’m not a fan of birds either, not since I saw Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds” as a kid. This spring I had a seagull family living on my chimney, and when the baby seagulls fell to the ground I had to use an umbrella to protect myself from the seagull parents attacks. SCARY! But Gwyneth Paltrow?? Looking forward to a post in this topic…

    August 21, 2012
  6. Courtney #

    This owl information sounds suspiciously erroneous.

    August 21, 2012
    • the trouble is unneccessary classifications, no offense to that linnaeus guy. there should be three categories of animals: fish, birds, land animals

      August 21, 2012
  7. Brilliant! I’m with you when it comes to swans, or geese. My friend has a phobia of tomato ketchup, there is really no escaping that one! I have a weird phobia of whales – I would NEVER go out of my depth in the sea in case I got surprised by one coming to say hello… shudder. I understand, sometimes you just need to get outa there!

    August 21, 2012
    • i fear deep water and the things that inhabit deep water, so i hear you on whales. i love ketchup though

      August 21, 2012
  8. srsly laughing my *ss off.

    GWENETH PALTROW?? jeez…what kind of deranged zombie nightmare world do you LIVE in anyway???

    i’m not a fan of birds either. their screeching, molting nastiness give me hives.

    i live in what you would THINK is a civilized place…by all accounts it is a world class city (san francisco) but somewhere in the misty hills of this city paradise there lives a ROOSTER…yes, that’s what i said. a ROOSTER…who screams his screams all the long day. now, believe me when i say that i am a reasonable person. a kind person even. and an animal lover…the kind that thinks all animals should be free and not kept in cages (including birds, i guess…but i’m thinking more like lions and leopards and bears). but…

    this rooster…
    someday when i find where its creepy, nasty, quasi-dinosaur self is hiding…
    i’m going to squeeze the life out of it w my bare hands.

    it’s a nice fantasy, but truthfully i’d never actually touch the foul (fowl) thing…ick.
    but i wonder…can you eat rooster?

    anyway, yoona, you’re the best. thanks for the post.

    August 21, 2012
    • hell yes you can eat rooster. the big craze in urban portland is to keep chickens in your backyard. i am conflicted because my kids like looking at such chickens on their walks, and i do enjoy eggs

      August 21, 2012
  9. Laughing out loud at my desk. I also hate birds and goldfish. My daughters got 2 goldfish for their birthday – I am terrified that they will leap out of the bowl some day when I am feeding the wretched things!! And birds… don’t get me started. Ever go over to someone’s house who has one of those blasted parrots or whatever and have them offer to let you hold the damn thing, thinking that this is a treat!!?? I seriously shudder just thinking of it. CLAWS POOP EYES HELPPPPPPPP

    August 21, 2012
    • that’s funny. fortunately i have never visited a house where i have been asked to feed a bird. i imagine my korean-bred manners would war mightily with my flight impulse

      August 21, 2012
  10. If you told me that owls weren’t really birds and gave live births, I can’t PROMISE that I’d believe you, but your argument sounds almost convincing enough to make me at least Google it.

    August 21, 2012
    • i think how they are different is that they regurgitate their food in owl pellets, which take disgusting to a whole new level. i visited a nature center two days ago and they had some

      August 21, 2012
  11. bora #

    tehee this one me giggle. god knows how you were able to survive in new york for so long, terrorized daily by our demented, filthy pigeons.

    August 21, 2012
    • why do people differentiate between birds like pigeons and birds like swans? i mean, what makes one less disgusting than the other? they are all gross

      August 21, 2012
  12. So cute!

    August 21, 2012

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