Before heading to Marburg, Germany, I traveled around a few cities with my boyfriend for two weeks. We spent three days in Frankfurt, three days in London and a week in Florence. We did a lot and saw a lot in all of these places, (and I might get to those experiences later) but the experience that sticks with my mind at the moment is the pigeon chasing experience.
I’ve seen pigeons in movies, and I’ve seen a few pigeons with my own eyes. But it wasn’t until I came to Europe that I understood why pigeons are so fun to chase around. They are arrogant little blighters. They don’t walk, waddle or hop. No. . . they strut. And the ones I saw in Florence were so accustomed to humans, so accustomed to getting fed by them, they strutted around as if they were the nobility and we were the peasant workers, who lived only to feed and serve pigeons. Animals, who believe they deserve worship, don’t usually bother me or at least don’t incite any hostile feelings. Take cats, for example. The cats at my house have an aura of royalty. They don’t often take notice of us humans unless they want more food or want us to pet them. That’s just how they are though- majestic, aloof and proud. But pigeons. . . I just don’t see them in the same light. Every time I saw one, I had an uncontrollable desire to sneak up behind it and scare it into flight. I just couldn’t help it.
Here’s how it started: Joe and I were walking along the streets of Florence, gazing at window displays and smelling the delicious aroma of baking bread, Italian spices and gelato. And there, right in front of me, plump and pompous, sat a pigeon. He was a big, fat feller, glaring at me with all the arrogance and spite he could muster. I think he was mad, because I interrupted his meal of leftover rolls, a bite of pizza and slouppy mess of melted gelato. After a few seconds, he tossed his head as if to say, “Humph! Not a threat, not worth my time!” He swaggered around his food and began to eat again. Another pigeon came sauntering by to try to snatch a piece of the king pigeon’s feast, and they started circling. Not to fight, really. They were too lazy. Instead it was a dance of one greedy pigeon attempting to chase off another bird crowding on his territory. It was a slow motion kind of dance, punctuated with occasional lightening head jabs towards the food. Watching them, I found myself itching. I had an urge to do something. It was small at first, a distant thought, and I tried to ignore it. But you know when you have an itch, you’ve got to scratch it. I was teetering on the brink of indecision, when Tom Lehrer’s song popped into my head. . . “Spring is here, uh- spring is here, life is skittles and life is beer. I think the most wonderful time is the spring, I do, don’t you?. . . all the world seems in tune on a spring afternoon when we’re poisoning pigeons in the park. . . “ Suddenly, I swooped down onto the unsuspecting birds below.
“Maaaaaarghgh!” I jumped down and watched the two birds clumsily attempt to run. King pigeon, though, was so fat, he didn’t go very fast. I wanted to see them hop to a quicker beat so I jumped one foot here and there. I waved my arms and yelled. It was my pigeon dance, and I probably looked really stupid. It was semi- effective though. The birds finally spread out their wings and flew a good four feet away. Once they were settled out of my reach, they both turned to look at me with reproachful eyes. I laughed at them, a feeling of exhilaration soaring through my body. “Bwa ha ha ha ha!”
I might have exaggerated a few details, but pigeon chasing is quite delightful. I really think it’s a win-win. It tickles me to chase the pigeons around, and the pigeons gain some much needed exercise. If you happen to be in a pigeon filled area, give it a try. It’s not just for the kids.
For those who would like to hear Tom Lehrer’s song, it is called, “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park,” and I’ve included a link to youtube.