Pigeon Trouble – Part One

Bob and Ray sat on a park bench, talking to each other and casually tossing bread crumbs to the flock of pigeons in front of them.

Bob:  “Sure are a lot of pigeons, huh?”

Ray:  “I’ll say – filthy beasts.”

“I like feedin’ ‘em – makes me feel useful, y’know?”

“Yeah, that’s good – get ‘em to let their guard down …”

“Excuse me?”

“With bread in their bellies, they won’t know what hit ‘em.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m talkin’ revenge, my friend, pure and simple.”

“Revenge?”

“You know – for what they did …”

“What did they do??”

“Buncha hoods … ruined my DeSoto …”

“Oh – you mean they pooped all over it …”

“Of course they pooped all over it!  How else are they gonna ruin a DeSoto?”

“Well, they are pigeons …”

“Hey, these are some downright despicable pigeons.  The DeSoto was just the beginning.”

“The pigeons have it in for you …”

“Now you’re gettin’ it.  Know what else they did?”

“Poop on another car?”

“Go ahead – you won’t be laughing when they rob you blind.”

“They robbed you.”

“Took every last dime:  savings, investments, 401-K, pension plan – all gone!”

“So they cleaned out all your bank accounts …”

“Clean as a whistle.  Hedging, derivatives, credit default swaps – those dirty birds knew exactly what they were doing …”

“Um … have you talked to your daughter about this?”

“She doesn’t listen to me – says I’m just too old to know what’s going on.  But I know – I know plenty …”

“Same here – can’t get anyone under 65 to take me seriously.”

“My prized DeSoto is ruined, and I’m living off my daughter without a penny to my name.  Those birds are pure evil.”

“Well, I guess all you can do is put it behind you.”

“I can forgive the car, I can even forgive the money … but …”

Ray seems to be on the verge of tears.  Bob, trying to be sympathetic, asks, “… but?”

“The betrayal, the violence …”

“The pigeons?”

“Yes, the pigeons!  Goddamn it, haven’t you heard anything I’ve told you?”

“Calm down!  How did they betray you?”

To be continued …

Another Peek at the Past

One moment I remember where I felt like I belonged was after I had my first visit with the director of the graduate program in the philosophy department at Loyola University in Chicago.  It was late August of 1982.  I had driven over from Detroit the day before, with all of my worldly possessions packed into a slightly aging 1975 Mercury Monarch, purchased for $2,350 cash in 1980 from money I saved while working in the basement vault of the National Bank of Detroit.  My parents were generous enough to give me free room and board while I worked for a year and a half, a transition time from a brief but beautiful life as a young religious man in a college seminary to a new life, a life filled with who knows what, but at least beginning with finishing my college education.

The bank job was a time when I didn’t really have to be burdened by the pain and sorrow of no longer being part of the religious life, whatever that was, to be free, to be free-floating, to take what felt like being adrift and see if it couldn’t feel like something else, something satisfying, something fun.  I experienced a miserable depression when I first came back to Detroit, miserable that the door to the religious life was permanently closed, stunned and no clue what to do next, so dazed and confused that I thought maybe God wanted me to be an accountant, that I should sign up with the Detroit College of Business and get to work on the business degree.  I was in bed for three days, didn’t get up, slept or didn’t sleep, didn’t eat, didn’t talk with anyone, not even the sorts of little internal conversations I have with myself today to keep me from falling on a knife.  But three days of such a black hole was about all I could stand—maybe out of sheer boredom, I finally got up.

I was twenty-one years old.  I started looking at the want ads to see if any of the banks in town were hiring.  I think I remember thinking something of the old bank robber’s response to people who asked him why he robbed banks:  “’Cause that’s where the money is.”  To be in the world, not just to survive but to live, to flourish, one needs money, and lots of it.  So, having a job where the money is might lend itself, I thought, to gaining wealth (what people now like to call ‘financial independence’).  After about a month of reading the ads, going to banks, filling out applications, giving them resumes (the only thing more pathetic than resumes from applicants with no previous work experience are resumes from ex-seminarians with no previous life experience), NBD decided to take a chance on me and hired me as a currency teller for their afternoon (4:00 pm to midnight) work shift.

Where Are We Going?

Sometime in the late 90’s, maybe 1998, I was visiting my sister in North Carolina.  On Sunday, we went to Mass at her nearby church.  The congregation was filled with people of all ages, but I especially noticed one young mother trying to persuade her small daughter to keep her voice down during the goings on of the Mass.  The daughter seemed to me to be perhaps four or five years old, and hadn’t really yet grasped the experience of what it meant to be in a public, solemn place.  The child’s voice was not especially loud, conversational, bored, only a little whiny – but of course, in this place, readily noticeable and not exactly the sort of attention mom wanted.

This was the case from the beginning of the service until, after the Gospel but before the homily began, the young mother decided that it was time take her daughter out from the proceedings, perhaps to the “cry room” back in the church vestibule.  As they were making their way out of the pew, and I swear, I will remember this for as long as I live, the little girl looked up at her mother, and through a few choked-back tears, asked in a somewhat cautious voice, “Where are we going?”

My sister and I joked about the matter after Mass (she too had noticed the girl’s lament), about what mom might have whispered back to her as they removed themselves from the congregation.  Of course it was too cruel to suppose that tales of fire, brimstone, and eternal damnation were being told to such a small child – their desired crippling psychological effects are much more likely to take hold once the child reaches the age of reason.

But I digress.  I remember hearing the tone in her voice, not really one of fear, I thought, but something of curiosity, something of the unknown, something – of hope.  Or maybe these are just my own projections upon this particular event.  But I like to remember it as a moment ripe for philosophical reflection and exploration:

Where are we going?  Where are any of us going?  How do we get there?

A Huge Lone Wolf Success

I’m on the train to St. Louis en route to my annual Missouri Ozark extravaganza vacation. My friends will collect me from the station in St. Louis – which will save a huge amount of time.

I was dumped on Tuesday (man, I really liked that woman) and totally dissed on Saturday (nice tits do not trump rudeness). At the beginning of the trip out of Chicago a pretty girl was looking for a seat. I hoped she would sit next to me, but she sat next to the guy across the aisle from me, saying “you look normal” as she took her seat. I was just beaten and broken enough to take her to mean that I didn’t look normal.

I was asked to move from my seat to let a granddad and granddaughter sit together. I ended up sitting next to a very pretty woman, easily thirty years younger than me. And, not to be a dick about it, much more attractive than my earlier desire. This girl was downright gorgeous: thick shoulder length strawberry red hair, slender build, and a face to make men weak in the knees.

God, karma, or whatever is running the show (if anything IS running the show) sure seems to be taking great pleasure in my tortured sexual frustration. Of course, that’s a bit egotistical – what reason do I have to think the universe gives a rat’s ass about me?

I won’t wallow in self-pity. I’ve worked hard at being by myself for so long that I now realize I’ve accomplished that goal summa cum laude. I’m a huge lone wolf success. New goal: work on yourself so that someone somewhere WANTS you. How hard can it be? BWAAAAHHH …