I've always been a lucky fellow, and never really understood why. Then a Chinese-Canadian friend of mine once gave my two explanations.
- I have a dragon tattoo
- I keep getting crapped on by birds
1. The first time I was shit upon by a bird—to my recollection—was in the mid 80's when my brother and I were 'swimming' in a river in western Alberta. Swimming being a loose word that better might be replaced with the expression 'floating down an extremely rocky river with our shoes on lest we break/twist an ankle amongst the rocks in the fast-flowing water'. A good Alberta tradition—this kind of floating is carried out during the brief Summer weeks when the weather is hot and incredibly dry.
We had come upon a bridge, and I decided I didn't like the looks of the water conditions beyond the bridge, so I stood. No sooner had I straightened up in the knee-high water than something appeared on my—then untattooed—chest. I looked down in surprise at the narrow white strip that extended from near my shoulder to almost my swim trunks, and realized I'd been shit upon. My brother and parents, who were by the car on the gravel bank, all thought it was hysterically funny. I simply started in disbelieve for a moment, then sank back into the water.
Looking up, I could see distant birds amongst the beams of the bridge. I guess it was just... luck. That night, I found a spider cooked into my pie. That's right, I found it before I ate it. If that's not luck, I dunno what is. We went on to have a fine time, taking in the Frank slide and the rest of the sights.
2. The second time I can recall being crapped on by a bird was about eight years later, when I was heading to a pub with my brother Ken, his wife-to-be Heidi, and my friend Kamil. We were downtown in sleepy old St. Catharines. A goddamn pigeon crapped on my shoulder. But we had a good time, so the birdcrap hadn't hurt.
3. A couple of years passed. Then one day, I was riding up the elevator in Toronto's First Canadian tower, and I noticed two coworkers from a different floor (which meant they were from Marketing or something like that, and might as well have been from a different planet) were staring at my coat and smirking at one another. It was a winter coat with broad lapels that habitually flopped forward, so I couldn't see what they were looking at. I stepped off the elevator, and as I headed to my desk, I check out what lay on the far side of the lapel. It was bird crap, and it was at least several hours old, as it had hardened to a crumbly consistency.
This was first thing in the morning, and the dry state of the stuff meant it hadn't happened on the walk in to the office that morning. Needless to say, I wasn't please that I'd been walking around the city for God only knew how long with birdshit on my jacket, nor was I impressed with my moron coworkers that said nothing. Birdshit is difficult to get out of wool, let me tell you. As for the Marketeers or Customer Service staff or whatever they were; that's Toronto for you.
I cleaned up and laughed about having been crapped on three times in one lifetime. Then I got a better job and never again saw a place staffed so thoroughly with the likes of the drones in that elevator. Definitely a bit of luck, actually. The job I went to remains to this day the most fun I've had on the clock.
4. About three years later, I was late for a corporate training course, and moving quickly. Somehow, I still managed to get nailed. Happily, I was wearing my by-then ageing gore-tex jacket, and getting the shit off was a breeze. By odd coincidence, a fellow from Arthur Andersen I'd worked with some months prior named Baskaran happened to be in the washroom of the same hotel, taking the same course. He approached me to share in my laugh over my (mis)fortune as I was running the place out of paper towels. I might add that birdsh*t doesn't come out of Goretex terribly well, either. The course turned out to be quite good, actually. Helped along, no doubt, by my sacrifice to the avian gods.
The above article was written in 2001. What comes next... happened next.
5. Update: 2002.02.16
It happened again; the first episode since I first wrote this page. This one occurred as I was walking down Robson Street in Vancouver. I was crapped on rather mightily, by a crow this time. Mercifully, crowsh*t is no worse than the gull or pigeon variety (I'd always imagined it would be utterly more foul, for some reason). And I was wearing, of all things, my rain coat. Oh frabjous day. Maybe now I can find a job!
6. Update: 2002.08.18
Well, six months and two days later, I've still had no luck with a job (or with much else, actually), but I have had another dose of birdshit. This time it was on the beach, of all places, just as I was about to approach a woman who I'd noticed had the same dragon tattoo I've got. I had just tucked away my camera to walk over to where she was lying with her husband (no point in clinging to the camera while approaching an attached stranger in a bikini, I reckoned), when I felt something hit my leg and crotch. I looked down, and there was a fresh dollop of rather dark birdshit about two centimetres to the right of my fly. Another graced my leg about ten centimetres above my ankle.
After struggling to get it cleaned up with sandy saltwater, I decided I was no longer presentable enough to go chatting to strangers on the beach (what an image that would have made, someone fully dressed with a stained wet patch in the crotch asking about women's tattoos—I passed on the idea). Definitely the worst bird-shitting to date. Hopefully of a lifetime. I don't know what luck befell me next.
7. Update: 2002.11.09
Toronto. This was another of the charming episodes where I didn't even notice the event. It was my friend Charlie that pointed out that I'd been crapped on just as we entered a cemetery to take some photos.
Three times in one year is too much, honestly.
8. Update: 2004.07.02
Halifax, Nova Scotia. I don't know how I got through 2003 without any birdcrap landing on me, but my (un?)lucky streak seems to be over. It happened today as I was on my way to pick up a rental car. Some small bird got me right on the right wrist (say that ten times fast—heh; maybe it was a wren).
I am, by now, resigned to a lifetime of this.
9. Update: 2006.11.08
Thailand. This time, I even have a photo. We'd just finished eating at a small stand beneath a highway overpass, where office workers go for some cheap and quick grub. Sort of an outdoor, tropical monocultural food court. We'd eaten our nice light dishes, and had stepped back into the street. Wending our way through the human and vehicular traffic, a gust of pigeons washed over us. A slight sensation at my knee caused me to look down... at some fresh pigeonshit.
To the laughter of the locals, I retrieved a tissue or two from another food stall and poured some of my bottle water on it to rid my pants of the kind of stain with obvious crusties. Later in the evening I managed to get most of the rest of it out. Then I wore the pants for the next three days, almost continuously.
A fine way to start married life.
10. Update: 2007.11.08
A year later, in a different city in a different Asia country. It was an enormous load, easily among the top two (along with the unfortunate incident at the beach). Probably a cormorant, or possibly a crane. Something that ate lots of fish, in any event. It hit me right on the shoulder, like an egg cracking. Three centimetres to the left and it would have gone inside my cycling jacket and ruined the shirt I was wearing for the day at the office. Ten centimetres higher, and it would have splashed across my face.
11. Update: 2012.07.28
It's been quite a while, but it's happened again. A bird above me was doing that type of "stalling" where it looks like it's going to crap. I watched it warily, but I didn't see it unload. But it did; it got my shoulder and someone pointed it out to me. Just a tiny dot, about one square centimeter or so. This is the first time in nearly five years!!
All in all, a lucky crapping indeed.
12. Update: 2013.04.18
Oh, bother. It's picking up speed again. This time I took it on the collar and shoulder, a smear of white shit that spattered pretty badly because I was at speed on my bike at the time.
So that's my run of luck with birds.
luck and deserving
Buddhists say things like Wise people know that everything they achieve or fail at in life are only consequences of their own actions and thoughts. But I disagree. I haven't done much with my days, but my luck remains pretty good. There are hazards in every life, but I find that in broad terms, I've managed to stumble into everything I need: health (mostly), shelter, food, education, employment (um, mostly), and now a woman who'll share her life with me and a son who's happy and healthy and great to know. That this is owing solely to my own actions seems a little far-fetched.
On the other hand, it's seductive to think that I was just such a great person in a past life that my just reward is the good life I'm currently living. Perhaps I could accept the fact that I'm just that deserving. But I think I'll instead make a quiet nod to the birds and keep one eye on the sky.