NED RYERSON IS THE DEVIL.
When I first started this newsletter, everyone skipped everything in it and went straight for "Max and Aug's Dog Blog."
Then I added "We Love Hate Mail!" and everyone just read "We Love Hate Mail" for an easy laugh and skipped the rest. Then I changed the name of "Max & Aug's Dog Blog" to "The Harbor Dogs' Stories" hoping it would pique interest back into the bit. So far, nothing has worked to make any of this worthwhile enough for people to click on it.
So, if you're one of the curious ones who have confusedly found yourself at this point in the newsletter, let me thank and perhaps entice you into going a little further. And be warned, should you dare click on the link below, you will be whisked away to a Wordpress site where I vomit up a regrettable Odyssey I had thrust upon me for the last several years and shows no sign of abating.
I’ve been in a running battle with birds in Boothbay Harbor for several years now.
Unfortunately, my battle isn’t with interesting birds like Non-Philly Eagles, Bushtits, Masked Boobies, Dickscissels, Horned Screamers, or Titmouses. Not even a Common Shag. No. I’m battling uninteresting, small, gray birds. They’re not even song birds. They just kind of cheep-cheep and shit on everything. I thought they were Grackles, but now I’m thinking scientists thought they were too boring for a name.
They are most definitely the same nondescript gray birds that routinely committed suicide on our windows when I was a kid. My mother would scream from somewhere, “DON’T TOUCH IT!!! IT’S SWIRLING WITH DEADLY GERMS!!!!” I took my mom’s word for it, as she was an RN. I left the poor, dead, uninteresting birds where they lay, only to be consumed by the wonder and beauty of nature where the end game was apparently to be eaten by something. Unless you were a tree. Then you had no choice who your neighbors were and could be cut down into patio furniture at any given minute.
Since that time, my life was sadly bereft of birds. Sure, there was the occasional friend’s parrot, the seagull I’d inadvertently hit with my car, or the band of noisy crows that always seemed to rip apart my garbage on Friday. Of course there was The Bald Eagle – the DDT-ravaged symbol of our great nation and the moniker of an Englishman named Eddie who likes to ski.
How, exactly, did I find myself at odds with a flotilla of dull, nondescript, angry birds in Boothbay Harbor? I shall take things slow and from the beginning. In that way, I think you will be hugely uninterested and never finish this, saving me the inevitable litigation and death threats from my neighbors.
IT CAME FROM AWAY
It was a neighbor of ours. He was from Connecticut, but I didn't hold that against him because previously there was a Whackjob from Maine living there who said my business was Satanic. That was lots of fun. She shot daggers out her eyes whenever we met. The guy from Connecticut was much friendlier. He would be a dawdle.
My first run-in with him was right after he moved in. He was pouring something out of what looked to be a large plant pot from his deck onto our parking spot and vehicles below.
I said, "HEY! Please don't do that!!!"
I said it in the most jovial way I could muster, considering he was splattering his garbage all over my car, a UPS delivery, my dogs, their dog beds, and everything else in range. Secretly, I was disappointed there wasn't at least one employee out there.
He said, "HEY! It's just water!" in a sing-song way back at me.
I said back in a sing-song way, "Then pour it in the si-ink!!"
"But there's di-irt at the bottom!"
"THEN IT'S NOT JUST WATER YOU IDIOT!!!" I screamed at him. "DON'T DUMP SHIT ON ME!!!!" Liana looked at me and shook her head side-to-side ever so slightly. Drop it. I was being rude.
He stood on his deck, looking into his plant pot perplexedly. Liana and I walked out to the road and he scuttled inside.
I secretly wished the Whackjob was back in that apartment accusing me of Satanism.
Then the worst possible thing happened-- he and I saw each other at Kalers enjoying a drink and he avuncularly put his hand on my shoulder. He saw fit to give me trite and embarrassing advice he no doubt thought sage and compelling. He kept that hand on my shoulder for what seemed like the life of the galaxy. I wondered if I was going to be the victim of Dr. Spock's Vulcan Mind Meld or Vulcan Nerve Pinch.
The encounter sent alarm flags up my spine. Was he a creepy molester of fat-middle-aged-pet-store owners, or did he work in the insurance industry? I remember when he had me in his grip Liana gave me a sideways, wide-eyed look that said, "I'm so proud of you for not punching this guy in the face."
I was right. He worked in the insurance trade, which pretty much guaranteed his brain was over-taxed by simply opening a box of Graham Crackers. It explained why he couldn't see dropping garbage on his neighbors as inappropriate.
As Liana can vouch, I always Christen weirdos I am guaranteed of seeing a lot in the future. There was DipSpit, Ass-Tank, Mr. Creepy, Motor-Mouth, The Dog-Faced Family, and Spazzle Dazzle (Spaz).
Ego posthac nominabo te, "The Dummy."
THE DUMMY, RAINING RANCID FAT, AND ONE A-HOLE
At some point, The Dummy decided he liked birds. So he put a bird feeder on his back deck.
The happy birds ate at the feeder all day long. They showered us with sunflower seed husks and unclaimed seeds. Also bird spit. Then The Dummy got the idea to put up some suet bird feeders. Those literally rained rancid fat onto our back steps, driveway, dogs and employees. Don’t worry, the employees were OK with rancid fat raining down on them. Haha! Just kidding! They were as calm as the spectators of the Oregon DOT’s attempt to blow up a dead, rotting whale with dynamite. Despite my employees being exposed to little drips of rancid fat and birdseed, you would have thought rancid chunks of whale blubber the size of septic tanks were raining down and crushing them like the cars in the whale video.
Then the birds started flying into my shop. They scared the hell out of my customers. They also fear-pooped on my product (the birds, not the customers). I debated closing the back door, but I would have cut off the breeze and the shop would have quickly become a warm, humid, severed-animal-part-stinking cesspool that resembled the Carboniferous Period.
I fear few things. Death? No. IRS Audit? No. Ridicule by teenage girls? A little bit.
But I am ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED of a mouse, rat, vole, mole, squirrel, chipmunk, capybara, beaver, Steve Buscemi or any other rodent loose in my shop’s storage shed. It’s hardly vermin-secure. It would quickly mean an end to about $10k of my pet food and treat inventory. I watched the birdseed and rancid suet rain down and I fretted incessantly.
I felt bad for yelling at The Dummy about the water. I felt even worse when I complained that their beagle howled for hours on end when they left him to go golfing. But I saw no end to the puddle of rancid suet, bird seed, and bird spit rain and had to do something.
And maybe this is why just about everyone who has ever owned a business is described as an a-hole. Every once in a while the owner has to put on the a-hole pants and stand up for his livelihood.
I remember coming to the shop one day and seeing all the shells and seeds and putrid fat on the ground. It must have smelled horrible up on their deck, judging by what I was smelling down below. Why wasn’t this bothering them as much as my hysterical teenage employees?
There was no way around it. I had to be The A-hole and have a serious talk with The Dummy.
I practiced putting my hand on Liana’s shoulder and smiling at her for long periods. I practiced telling her sincerely about all the things that concerned me regarding “his” birds. After several hours of this kind of practice, Liana said I had almost stopped referring to him as “The Dummy.”
I was ready.
So grab yourself a hot cocoa or a wooden cup of some Amazon Tribe's saliva-fermented hallucinogenic mead and read the rest of "Bird Town," by Yours Truly.
I suggest you explore Newfoundland Canada and eat nothing but cod for a month. Or at least explore our shabby, last-minute, misspel’t, gluten-free, cod-free, monthly e-newsletter that brings shame to my family: https://mailchi.mp/twosaltydogs/the-salty-paws-october-2023
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