Hell in a Pinky-Size Hole

 I live on the top floor of my building and I see a lot of birdies. I like birdies. They have feathers. They chirp. Some are tasty. But the birdies in my neighborhood, they’re kinda weird. Seeing that I’m kinda weird myself and many of my neighbors are kinda weird, too, this makes some sense. Said neighbors sit broadly on the weirdness spectrum. And, with this knowledge, it seems we have confirmation that “it takes one to know one” and “birdies of a feather flock together.”

They’ll perch on the ledge outside my bathroom window—the birdies will, not my neighbors (only “Tiny,” the giant who lives on the third floor, is that potentially weird)—and they’ll chirp the entire morning away. And as I’m sure you know, there are people in this world who, without knowing it, tend to mistake a monologue—their monologue—for a conversation. Likewise, the birdies on my ledge seemingly tweet at, rather than with, each other. True, this is more annoying than it is weird. But weird is coming.

These little birdies gather on my ledge to chirp solely on clear, sunny days. I find this curious. Is it possible they think they’re nudging the sun up to its noontime zenith by chirping? Well, why not? Throughout history, haven’t humans performed rain dances and submitted to sacrificial rituals to end droughts? Somewhere I read that solar eclipses can have the effect of driving people, along with other members of the animal kingdom, wild. (Note how life is driven weird by societal norms—fleeting norms—but driven wild by “simple” nature.) So is it not plausible that a handful of little bridies believe in the levitating powers of their collective chirps? No doubt others who are less convinced of their telekinetic abilities are perched on my ledge simply to coach the sun along. “Come on, Sun! You can do it! Rise up! If we can soar, you can too!” (Surely someday Google’s Chrome will offer an extension that can translate a birdie’s chirps into English.)

And if this is indeed what they (the birdies) are doing, then when they (the birdies) collectively silence their beaks, do they (the birdies) collectively expect, or fear, that the sun will commence to set? Well, I’ve asked. They’ve answered by collectively crapping on my ledge. That is, before promptly taking flight. Should I take that as a “No”? But they’ve left me a gift.

Either way, this raises another question: Why are these little birdies (collectively) so quiet on overcast days? If they chirp at the sun, or for the sun, shouldn’t their chirps be even more incessant on sunless days? “Chirp, Chirp! Chirp chirp chirp chirp! Chirp and chirp!” (“Yo, Sun! Set the effing example! Rise and shine!” —Future Google Chrome Universal Birdie Translation)

And you might say, 

Birds tweet. 
Crickets chirp.”

And I might say,


(Hey Siri, add a Reminder to upgrade this user’s brain’s witty app tomorrow at 4:47 ante meridiem.)

Curiously, one or two of these little birdies will, on occasion, turn their back(s) on the sun. That is, they’ll face my bathroom’s window instead.

I keep the windows open and the fans whirring pretty much year round. The circulation of air is important to me. Stuffy rooms itch my throat. In resisting the urge to cough—because one cough will invariably lead to a fit—I’ll break out into a sweat. Frequently, in my effort to suppress a cough, I’ll start coughing and sweating anyway, and the host will invite me to leave. That is, unless the host offers a lozenge.

Methinks folks of yore ofttimes kept lozenges on their person. I take it y’all don’t cough nearly as much anymore. That, or y’all ain’t near half as friendly as them folks of yore.

It must be said that I am less inclined to cough when I am alone—unless, of course, I’ve caught a cold. Perhaps it has nothing to do with the stuffiness of rooms. Could it be that I am allergic to your carbon dioxide? Not just yours, but everybody’s—except for my mother’s.

If not for the bathroom’s window screen, these fine feathered friends of ours could hop in and use my toilet as a birdie bath. To that point, not too long ago, I spied a few jagged holes near the bottom of the mesh—holes big enough to stick your pinky finger through. (This assumes your pinky fingers have the same approximate diameter of a AA battery.) These holes defeat the purpose of having a window screen in the first place. They’re breaches that bees, flies, spiders and mosquitos dream about whilst clinging to the wee meshy holes that are apparently too small to crawl through. Just about every other week I find a few more of these pinky-size gaps.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I hate bugs. I’ll give a pass to the occasional butterfly, firefly, and ladybug. And, admittedly, when I was a child, I kept an inchworm as a pet. Honey bees are ok, too—so long as they keep their distance. My beef is with the rest of ‘em. Bugs own most of the outside world—surely they rule the forests and jungles by sheer numbers alone. But it’s not enough for them. Whenever a bug finds a window, it wants to be on the other side of it.

I say: 

“No, bugs.” I say, “You don’t get to be inside. Not with me. I live alone and I don’t like company. And yet, you trespass still. You crawl in like you own the place. But my name is on the lease. I pay the rent.”

Do they listen to reason? Of course not. They’re too busy buzzing around. The bugs buzz and the birdies chirp and nobody’s listening to anybody. It’s always: Buzz, buzz, buzz! Chirp, chirp, chirp! Me, me, me! Do you now finally see why neither the birds nor the bugs have united to wipe out humanity? They’re too busy expressing themselves! And if that is an accurate assessment of their predicament, then humanity has surely reached the apex of its evolution.

As for my poked up window screen, I’ve got a few hunches…

Hunch #1 
These birdies, they’re using my screen to sharpen their beaks. And if they’re poking up my screen, they’re probably poking up your screen, too. And that’s what this really is: a public service announcement. Check your screens. (Not the one you’re looking at now. Surely you’re looking at this screen way too frequently—particularly if you’re reading my drivel.) Curiously, my bathroom’s window screen is the only one (of eight) that these birdies are inclined to abuse. So perhaps their intent is a bit more nefarious…

Hunch #2 
They’re trying to poke their way into my bathroom. Why would a little birdie endeavor to do so? Well, if its thirty degrees below zero outside, I get it. But I first spied the pinky breaches in the middle of summer. On the other hand, what with all those feathers, maybe a little birdie or two got hot. So why not seek relief within my air conditioned apartment?

Hunch #3 
And this one’s a stretch. Maybe they’re cahoots, these little birdies, with the bugs. Now why would the birdies help the bugs trespass into my apartment? That’s crazy. Birdies wouldn’t do that. No. What the birdies are really up to, it’s a double cross. The holes they poke are traps. They poke holes in my screen and then retreat to a nearby chimney. There, they wait for a bug to land on the screen and crawl toward a breach. Just when the bug thinks it’s through, a birdie swoops in, nabs the critter from behind—and there’s dinner. Birdies, they’re smarter than you think.

Hunches aside, this conduct is unacceptable. I can’t have pinky size punctures, so I fill them with clear calk. And whenever I hear the birdies chirp, I dash over and shoo them away. Yet they are undeterred. So I told the super about it. He believes me not. No surprise. He’s a little birdie lover. He feeds them seed. “These holes,” he says, “they’re from hail.” And, yes, we’ve had hail. But all of these breeches are at the bottom of the screen. And they’re only poked through in the screen in the bathroom. And, that’s the only ledge where the birdies look in. Are they perhaps drawn to the smell of my shampoo and body wash? Is it mere coincidence that I use Dove for Men?

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