The Public Eye

printed 09/04/2020

If you think you have it bad, you don’t know what bad is.

Think about this: if you were an annual cicada, the treetop insect that delivers the reciprocating saw sound of summer, you would spend most of your life buried in dirt, emerge into the light at last, only to have sex one time and die.

So much for a stimulating social life.

If cicadas could talk, this is how the conversation would go:

“Hey, Bob, guess what I did last night? I went out and got ... aaaaggggh!”

But there’s worse. If you’re a guy, imagine being a spider — you hatch, eat some bugs, have sex one time, and then the female eats you.

“Hey, Bob, guess what? Irene invited me over for dinner. Maybe I’ll get lucky. I’ll let you know how it went.”

“Ummm, no you won’t.”

Obviously, I’ve been spending some time observing the animal kingdom in my yard, for lack of anything else to do. Curiosity-driven person that I am, however, I have questions about the things I’ve seen.

For instance, how is it butterflies can fly like they do without throwing up? Scientists say butterflies have that herky-jerky flight pattern to make it more difficult for birds to catch and eat them.

That may be so, but all I know is that if you were flitting up, down and sideways as you traveled from point A to point B, you’d be barking on the begonias before you went two feet.

Then, there is the ultimate nature question: can birds aim?

To explain, we have a ton of bird feeders, because I enjoy — or used to enjoy — watching little birds like finches do what they do.

But over time I have learned that these chirpy little flockers are not what they seem. They are, in reality, small thugs in feathered clothing. There are times when, seemingly without provocation, they attempt to beat the bird seed out of each other for no apparent reason.

I made note of that, but then later came to wonder if they somehow, in their little bird brainstems, intuited that my opinion of them had changed.

As it happened — and this is an unembellished true story — I was outside getting over a rough workday by applying the usual counter-measure on the rocks.

We were looking at the sky, my marital associate and I, when a house finch flew overhead. At first, it appeared as a speck in the great blue expanse, but grew larger and larger as it descended some 50 feet toward the earth.

And then, pa-lookup.

This bird, flying at 30 mph, some 50 feet up in the air, managed to calculate the timing and the trajectory to hit a two-inch diameter target and poop dead center into my sipping whiskey. I say it was on purpose.


So, just think, no matter how bad things might seem, they could be worse.

You could live in the dirt, you could be a victim of cannibalism ... or a finch could poop in your sipping whiskey.

Now, that, I submit, is a very bad day. What could be worse than that?

Not noticing it at first.

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