Monday, October 04, 2004

Shooting gulls

There is a park a few blocks from my house which is on a bluff overlooking the lake. It's got a bandshell, a big open green space where Vietnamese immigrants play pick-up games of soccer and volleyball, a corner full of play equipment, and lots of paved paths around the perimeter of the park, which make it an ideal place to take small children bike-riding. It also has, parked on the edge of the park from April through October every year, a yellow bus full of grills and deep-fat fryers, selling burgers, hot dogs, fries and creemees. Between the food left on the ground and the many fries that are consciously offered to them, the park is also a favorite haunt for gulls, who can sometimes be quite aggressive.

Yesterday I took the kids to the park just before dinner. After riding around the park a bit, we stopped so they could get some time in on the jungle gyms and slides. A young woman was sitting at one of the picnic tables with her mother and her infant, eating the greasy junk food from the bus. Her mom got up to go get some more food from the bus. A few minutes later, I heard the young woman yelling "MOM! COME BACK HERE!" A gull had hopped up onto the picnic table and was actually taking fries directly out of the cardboard box they were sitting in, just a foot or so from the young woman's face. Then she yells at her mom, as if it would help the situation, "I don't understand why it's illegal to shoot the f***ing things!"

It was a true American moment. The mental image I had of these poor folks carrying guns around the park, trying to shoot the gulls — of which there are a huge number, and they're small, and there are all kinds of small human children running around which I presume no one would want to harm — kept me amused for a good long while. Really, if one wanted to solve the gull problem, it would be much more effective to bring guns and shoot (or at least threaten to shoot) the dumbasses who feed the gulls in the first place, thus turning them into the fearless guerilla raiders they are. Or better yet, form armed bands to drive the bus-o-cholesterol from the neighborhood. I'm sure the university professors and rich folks up in the hill section would love to have the faint smell of deep-fat-frying wafting through their neighborhood every day. It might even be exotic for them, as few of them have probably ever had to slave away in the fast-food industry themselves.

After I finished amusing myself with these thoughts, I saw that E had been recruited into a game of tag with two Vietnamese girls, who were both about her size but a couple of years older (one of them used to live down the street from us and hung out at our house when E was smaller). Between the fact that the other girls were a little older and far more agile on the jungle-gym and the fact that E was probably tired out from getting up early and playing a soccer game in the afternoon, she spent a lot of time being "it."

For quite awhile, this did not seem to bother her. She recruited her younger brother to be her "helper," and seemed to get great pleasure out of huddling with him to devise complicated strategies for catching the other girls. She also was clearly enjoying ordering him about. They played for maybe 15 or 20 minutes, running around the playground, whispering strategy, and yelling instructions, but none of it resulting in any progress. E remained "it," and the other girls became increasingly bold in taunting her.

And eventually, E and S just got frustrated and we went home.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps one could shoot aggressive gulls and deep fat fry them on the bus, then serve them to dumbasses as a snack.