A Bird In The ...... Hand?

- by Michael!

When I was in college, I was an idiot.

That’s not so much the beginning of any particular story as it is a general description of myself around the turn of my second decade. I take solace in knowing that, with very few exceptions, everybody was an idiot when they were in college, but it does not diminish my own stupidity.

However, this stupidity has become the source of many wonderful stories (such as the dogsitting post from our first month of Craziness!), so at least I’m able to brighten days here and there with tales of my own idiocy.

For instance, there was the time a pigeon roosted in my dorm room.

My freshman-year roommate and I had a corner room on the top floor of our building. The words “corner room” here mean “hilariously large for two people, so much so that we had room for a full couch and surround sound setup.” That part was nice. But the words “top floor” in that sentence translate into “for the love of all that is holy will you please turn the fan on, crank the AC, and sign this document saying that we are mutually OK with being in underwear only due to the unnatural levels of heat in our living space.”

We left the windows open a lot.

One time, toward the end of our freshman year, we opened the windows in the morning and left for our respective Fridays. My roommate was a lot of fun, and was likewise a music major, but we didn’t really hang out much outside of our room – different fraternities, interests, and whatnot. So neither of us thought to inform the other of our weekend plans as they developed.

Kyle elected to go camping with some of his fraternity brothers.

I was invited to a party at a friend’s house that was pretty far away, and figured I’d just crash on his couch once things wound down.

Both of us thought the other would close the thrice damned windows.

I can’t speak for Kyle, but I had a blast with my Friday night. Didn’t necessarily get much sleep, but … again … college. You get the idea. So on Saturday morning, I wake up after two hours so that I can go home and take a nap.

As with so many other moments in my life, I had a pretty clear visualization of what was coming next. It went something like this:

1.   Enter room, perhaps while stifling a yawn in dramatic fashion so as to encourage dialogue with my admittedly “cooler” roommate about what a great party I had been invited to attend, if he was there.

2.  Casually throw my backpack onto my bed, the bottom half of our bunk bed.

3.  Heroically manage to stay awake through a shower while somehow managing to remember how to use soap. (This basic feat of grooming should NOT be taken for granted when discussing the behavior of an 18-year-old male running on two hours of sleep, by the way.)

4.  Collapse into bed and stay there until Sunday morning.

You, dear reader, have probably noticed that my little envisioned scenarios do not often ever go as planned.

Kyle was not home yet, so my brilliantly executed dramatic yawn went unappreciated. I was only awake enough to be mildly disappointed, however, so I proceeded to step two.

And did not make it any further.

Because the moment my bag hit the bed, a pigeon erupted from Kyle’s bunk and began flying around the room in abject terror.

Of course, I did not know it was a pigeon. For all I knew, it was a bald eagle, or maybe a ninja. So my screaming like a little girl in the Hall of Snakes who sees the clown from It smiling and pointing at her was completely justified.

Shut up.

Anyway, the [expletive deleted] bird was flying around, I had stopped screaming but was still freaking out more than a little bit, and things were in general a mess. This state was not helped by the fact that the bird was apparently not smart enough to figure out where the windows were in the dorm room, or even gather data about their general direction.

Ok, I know birds aren’t supposed to be smart, but there were three windows, all fairly large, all emitting both natural light and a distinct breeze. Even a congressional representative could read this situation. But not, apparently, my pigeon, who kept trying to fly directly up.

Since this didn’t work, the obvious answer was to try again, only harder: UP.

The result was a ceiling that looked like a voodoo lounge decorated by Jackson Pollack. We had pigeon blood smeared in artsy little dabs across the length and breadth of the entire room, some 450 square feet.
Meanwhile, not to be outdone by the bird’s stupidity, I tried to catch it, using such various tools as:

1. Paper towels.
     2. A blanket I found on the floor. 
     3.  One of my bathroom towels. (Both this and the item in Number Two were thrown, like nets, in the general direction of the flailing avian, thus only contributing to its frantic desire to escape by battering its way through at least a foot of ceiling plaster.)
     4. Harsh language.

Surprisingly, none of this worked.

In the end, the bird, suffering from severe exhaustion, blood loss, and head trauma, fell behind my desk, where it fluttered away from me when I tried to drag it out with a walking stick I had. I was thoroughly stumped, so I did what I should have done all along and called maintenance.

Our building’s janitor was a gruff older man (think Scruffy from Futurama) who didn’t talk often, but wouldn’t shut up when he did. About an hour after I made the call (oh, and wasn’t that a fun hour!), he showed up with a long pole with a net on the end and regaled me with several different stories of various winged critters that got stuck in the dorm rooms on a regular basis, including bats.

I think my exhaustion began to show even through my natural politeness, because he eventually stopped talking and went about the de-birding business I so desperately needed him to finish so that I could finally go to sleep. He brandished his net and approached the desk, and I eagerly anticipated him snagging the by-now quieter bird so he could take it outside and put it outside, where it belonged.

Instead, he turned the pole so that the steel rim of the net faced downward, and proceeded to bludgeon the bird to death with it, right behind my desk.

How very sanitary!

He then scooped up its remains, bid me good day, and left me in a nightmare landscape of blood and feathers.
This clearly meant that I needed to skip the shower part of my aforementioned plan and just go right to sleep.

When Kyle got home that afternoon, he was justifiably curious about the state of our living quarters. I explained what had happened in full and gory detail, and he responded with the appropriate mixture of sympathy, laughter, and disgust. Just as tired as I had been, he climbed up to his bunk, only to discover that the bird had apparently decided that, while his pillow was certainly comfortable enough to be a serviceable roost, it needed some poop-oriented redecoration.

What would your reaction have been, I ask you?

Some would have screamed, flung the pillow off of the bed, and left immediately to go purchase a new pillow after requesting that their roommate burn the desecrated household item.

Some would have laughed, removed the pillow, and asked said roommate for a substitute until cleansing or replacement was possible.


He said, “Gross,” shrugged, turned it over, and WENT TO SLEEP.

So. To sum up: When I was in college, I was an idiot.

But at least I had lots of company.