Dear Uptight Seattleite,I awoke to find my Passat caked in bird shit, and I mean CAKED. The funny thing was, none of the surrounding cars had even a speck. It was like every pigeon in Wallingford got together and settled on my car as the place to poop on all at once. Am I paranoid?Jake
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Dear Jake,The Wallingford Pigeons' Union! I love that idea! Thanks for brightening my day with a little chuckle. It sounds like your way of looking at this situation needs a little brightening, too. Think of it this way: When birds "go" on your car, it's as if they're saying, "Hey there, you human person with your little pollution machine! Don't forget we're here, too!" It's a little measure of revenge for Mother Nature.Which, coincidentally, is the theme of Avatar. Yes, that's right—I actually watched a mainstream movie. It was only because Deb's son Chip wanted to go and there was no one to take him with Deb working so many extra shifts at the hospital. I didn't mind. I thought it would be a good opportunity to offer Chad some fun pointers on how to most appropriately consume corporate entertainment products. My discussion in the Northgate Mall parking lot afterward touched on how the film presented killing as entertainment, and how its supposedly anti-colonial message was undermined by its white-man-to-the-rescue plot.I am, however, secure enough in the alternativeness of my own paradigm to admit that I procured—in a self-aware manner—a certain amount of pleasure from certain aspects of the movie. Like when the goddess of the alien moon rose up against the military contractors, and how the blue people communed with plants and animals by plugging their ponytails into them. THAT was pretty cool.Dear Uptight Seattleite,Except during the rare deep freeze, sweater-wearing pooches offend me aesthetically and morally. Are their owners compensating for the failure of millions of years of dog evolution, or for something else? From your omniscient perch, what other inferences, if any, are you able to make about these people? Or are you going to turn your eagle eye on me? Please don't.Houndless Hank
Dear Hank,I'm not sure I know what you mean by your last comment. You think I'm going to start questioning your intentions here? That seems a little defensive, but OK; since you don't want to talk about you, we won't. Except possibly to examine your unspoken (but clearly implied) idea that doggie sweaters are somehow effeminate. Do you also think it's effeminate to use a modern-style paper cutter, the kind that has a sliding blade instead of a heavy cleaver as in the old days? Well, just TRY sliding instead of chopping—I'm confident it'll open your mind to a more intelligent, less aggressive model of manhood.Now that we've gotten that out of the way, maybe you can see that doggie sweaters are a legitimate response to the circulatory and breathing problems that many well-loved breeds have (unkind sticklers might call them "genetic defects due to inbreeding"). No, if there's a problem here, it's that doggie sweaters are based on human clothing rather than being conceived in a properly doggie-centric manner. If you want to do something about this, Hank, I suggest you show solidarity by wearing something that wasn't designed for YOUR body. That's why I myself wear this tea cozy on my head.Dear Uptight Seattleite,Seattle is a farmers-market, urban-veggie-garden, backyard-chicken kind of town. Last night, two of those chickens met an untimely end in my backyard. They belonged to my housemates and their chicken-loving children. Though I silently called them Extra Crispy and The Colonel's Special when they tore through my garden mulch and pooped on my welcome mat, I was fond of them and liked to pet their shimmery feathers. My question is, what is an appropriate condolence gift for someone's backyard chicken loss?Housemate Helen
Dear Helen,Is it andropause? The only way to get beyond shame and fear is to ask questions openly. So is it andropause, or some other personal cycle, that's delivered all these animal-related questions to me in the same week? We may never know. Especially since you didn't tell us how those chickens actually met their ends. The raccoon-vs.-chicken scenario is well-known, but chicken-on-chicken violence is also common. Like what happened to my neighbor's chickens. They had all the advantages: Twelve square feet of free range, organic feed, and a shelter with solar-powered heat and the sounds of the prairie piped in through little speakers at night. But one day Heckle pecked Jekyll to death. What I told my neighbor then, I'll tell you now: Don't despair in the face of Nature's apparent brutality. Some things about Her we don't understand; we can't plug in our own ponytails (yet!). As for a gift on the occasion of those chickens' deaths, I suggest one for you to give yourself: an appreciation for the poopin' and peckin' of birds as an expression of Her mischievously inscrutable nature.Questions? Write firstname.lastname@example.org.