The Saga of Spring Break: Part 2
As you may recall, last week found our heroes trapped by their own desires in a mansion of phallic proportions. They may have set out for nothing more than unabashed revelry, but in its place, they encountered a most difficult challenge. This week, in the exciting conclusion to our two-part saga, the unsuspecting crew of the cliff-side palace will face a trial the likes of which they have never before seen. Instead of coming to terms with a giant pecker, they’ll have to survive an onslaught of little ones.
We’re sitting in six deck chairs, wedged expertly between the pool and the glass guard rail, enjoying both the beautiful ocean view and some delicious hangover burritos, when suddenly it sounds like something fun is happening inside. Maybe the girls are having that pillow fight I’d been daydreaming about. Or maybe it’s just Drive By playing on loop again or people throwing up everywhere—who knows?
The decision to go investigate was not an easy one. After all, these are San Diego burritos we’re talking about. Whether it’s juicy, lardy carnitas smothered in fresh guacamole, or greasy, melted cheese dripping over carne asada and french fries, you know that while your heart and stomach may hate you, your tongue will be enraptured. Every time I journey home, I eat an average of two burritos per day, and no matter how sick from them I get, I never get sick of them. Still, the potential for fun eventually outweighs our hunger, and we set down our food to go join in.
A foolish mistake!
Nanoseconds after the food is abandoned, the seagulls that had been hovering above our palace seize their opportunity and swoop in with calculated Machiavellianism! I could hardly blame them—San Diego burritos—but neither could I allow the slight to go unpunished. As the first person to notice the impending horror of total burrito loss, I sprint outside, flapping my arms wildly and yelling in the manner I instinctively sense will be most intimidating to seagulls.
Apparently my instincts are too good, because the birds scatter like feathers in a sorority-girl pillow fight. That is, all save one, an adolescent male (I like to imagine) who has found himself pinned between a semi-circle of chairs and every birds’ ultimate bane: a panel of glass. The see-through fence that had kept us from plummeting to our deaths all week is now preventing this poor creature from reverse plummeting to freedom. And yet, sure that nothing more than empty air lies in front of him, the seagull takes off, ramming his head full-force into the glass wall. He is knocked backward with a resounding DONG, but that deters him not at all. Again, he rams it. And again! Again! Again!
Whereas once I had been enraged by the seagull’s insolence, I now find myself pitying the dimwitted creature. There it was, entrapped by a cage it could neither see nor damage. I could almost sense its thoughts: if I can just ram it hard enough, the magic maintaining this accursed force field will be broken! Or more likely: Caw. Caw! Caw caw! Its wings flap wildly, and with every smack, it becomes visibly more shaken and disoriented.
I know I have to help this bird. After all, I am a nature god. But how?!
At this point, my cousin Evan joins me outside and is witness to the self-inflicted destruction of this bird’s skull. The two of us start frantically pulling chairs out of the way to give the gull room to take off, but the pool is right behind us and without tossing the chairs into it, our minor adjustments prove ineffective. Plus, no matter how much room we give the thing, it remains utterly certain that with just one more try, it will be able to defeat the accumulated human knowledge of polymer construction. Sure, the magic barrier has stopped it the last 27 times it tried to take off, but no force is more powerful than that of obstinance, and no substance is thicker than a seagull’s skull.
I realize that there’s only one way this bird is escaping: if I can hoist it over the fence. Eschewing any real forethought, I reach in to grab the thing, but that just scares the shit out of it.
Literally. As soon as I touch its wing, it sprays poop all over the place, the splash damage just barely missing my foot. Now freed from the burden of its bowels, it proceeds to expertly smack its head into a fence some more.
I take a step back and perform a few monkey-level calculations. A tool! That’s what I need! And then I see it: the pool scooper. Just because it’s meant to scoop pools doesn’t mean it can’t also scoop gulls. I’m going to have to wield it with expert jabsmenship to pull off this delicate operation, but unfortunately, my tool, while not lacking in the long steel rod department, has a slightly-smaller-than-gull sized net. Also, I don’t have a lot of practice at scooping demented birds.
I brandish my new implement of animal-targeted kindness, waiting for the gull to perform another leap-smack (every time it tries to take off, it clears the ground by about two inches, so I simply have to slide the scooper underneath its feet during that brief window. Easy.) Leap, smack! Damn, I miss it. Another smack!
Boom! I’ve got the scooper under the bird. It’s working! I’m lifting this frantic, gyrating mass of a creature into the air as effortlessly as everyone who wasn’t Arthur lifted that sword out of the stone. It’s writhing and struggling and leaping and cawing and flapping and generally making my task pretty much impossible. I take a moment to dwell on how ungrateful this adolescent avian is, but then I realize that I was probably the same way at that age and return to my task with renewed vigor. Still, I’m unsuccessful. You wouldn’t expect a four-pound bird to be able to throw me off balance, so you clearly don’t have a lot of practice scooping demented birds either.
All the flailing proves too much for even my expert gull-balancing skills, and the bird flops off. Now reduced to a wobbling feather-clump of sheer terror by his over-exciting ride on the demon stick, this bird takes a break from the head-ramming to puke out its guts, which mostly contained this one half-digested fish. It was really rather pretty, the way its scales shimmered in the sunlight and its body ended in a bloody, undigested cluster of muscle instead of a head.
But I wasn’t about to let a little regurgitated fish remnants faze me. I go back to scooper-thrust round two, but before I can pull it off, I notice a cacophonous chorus of cawing. There! In the sky! Dozens of circling gulls, enraged that we’ve captured their companion. Hopes that they were all swarming to devour the free half-fish on the deck are quickly quashed as they swoop narrowly above our heads in an effort to scare us away from our presumed prey. Don’t they understand that I just want to help?
And their primary offensive weapon is the tried-and-true method of consta-shitting.
That special bird mixture of urine and feces rains from the sky all around me; the seagull rams his head into the wall; Evan cries out in fear and delight; the heavens ring with the chatter of enraged beasts; the waves crash against the cliffs beneath me; it’s all aligning just like that fortune teller said, and I know that if I do not solve this seagull situation now, things may turn out very badly.
For a moment, I’m on the verge of giving up, but Evan delivers a rousing speech and the two of us sprint through the ever-falling barrage of bird poop and get back in position. With one final thrust, I manage to snake the scooper underneath the gull, and, sensing victory, I hoist him into the air as fast as I can. We’re going to make it!
But with a furious flop, the gull slides sideways. I try to maintain my hold, but alas, I cannot. The bird topples to his left, rolling among the chairs, shit splatters next to me, splashing the fish remnants—but wait, he’s somersaulted beyond the last chair!
There are no more obstacles! With a wobbly step, the gull rights himself, looks to the sky, and takes off!
I brandish my scooper at the remaining seagull strike force and shoo them away, every inch looking like a half-mad hippie lashing out against unseen sky demons when his true enemy is the quantity of hallucinogens in his bloodstream. Yes, it is another victory for the nature god.
And the whole thing was witnessed by our 85-year-old neighbor, this tiny old lady who was talking on the phone until her jaw dropped in wonder at the sight of our struggle. Once the seagull was safely away, she asked in the scratchy, pitchy, lilting voice of an old person, “How did you get them to do that?”
“We left food out here,” we responded stoically, as if that could explain the experience we had just had. But Evan and I knew better. We knew we had narrowly avoided the fortune teller’s curse, but it would be back.
It would be back.