Sunday, September 21, 2008

Today's Distraction: A Pigeon

Distractions—usually of people coming and going—are my problem with (and, at the same time, perhaps the wonders of) going to a Starbuck’s “patio” in the Loop to write. Granted, there are plenty of distractions in my apartment, namely the Internet, but the distractions in downtown Chicago seem to be of a different breed.

Today the distraction was in the form of a pigeon. Let’s get this straight from the get-go: I hate pigeons, the flying rats of the city. I hate seeing them everywhere, I hate how they’re so used to humans, I hate how they flock toward any grain of food on the sidewalk. But I deal with them because, well, they’re there, and, for the most part, I’m able to ignore them.

Within seconds of sitting down outside of Starbucks this afternoon, a pigeon, it’s feathers looking wet and ruffled, wandered under my table and started circling my feet. I tried to ignore it. I pulled out my notebook and the draft of my novel. I sipped at my frappuchino. I took some notes on things I wanted to work on today. But I kept looking under the table. Call me what you will for being scared of a damn pigeon, but I’ve been shit on by a bird before, and I really didn’t want that to happen again.

Luckily, the pigeon moved on, as it pecked its way around the sidewalk patio. A woman came out of Starbucks and began to situate herself at the table next to me. After the woman set down her coffee and a bagged cookie, the pigeon spread its wings and flew onto the table. The woman somehow managed to swat at the bird while still jumping back. The bird hopped onto to the back of a chair, and then just sat there, watching the woman.

The woman looked at me, her eyes wide.

I shrugged in response to her unasked question of what to do.

“I’m moving tables!” she declared to all the Starbucks patrons, as well as the people walking by who stopped and stared. She grabbed at her coffee and cookie, and moved to another, smaller, table.

The pigeon didn’t give up. He hopped onto the table next to her. He watched her (or maybe he was just watching the cookie; who am I to say?) He sat there, as the woman’s husband joined her. He was oblivious to the nervous state his wife was in as he doodled on a piece of paper and asked why she moved tables.

A few minutes passed, and the pigeon hopped down, began circling the sidewalk again. Every time it came near the woman with the cookie, she kicked at it. The pigeon didn’t get the message until the third kick.

The point to this entry (if there is one) is this: I went to Starbucks to work on my novel (which I eventually did), and I came away with a potential story about a hungry pigeon. Maybe I’ll even put it in the perspective of the pigeon. Who would of thought? Me, writing about a pigeon, maybe even being sympathetic towards the unloved bird of the city—even though it was beyond annoying today.

After all, the pigeon eventually left everyone alone—after a young girl ran up to the bird and tried to grab it. It flew to the top of one of the green Starbucks umbrellas, and didn’t move by the time I left an hour later. Apparently it wasn’t craving any human interaction—it just wanted food.

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