Birdbrain

Putting aside for a moment the fact that I had to read this story in the Washington Post, not the paper of record where it actually happened (which would be in Kansas City, where I actually live)….

One of the nice things about being an adult is that the irrational fears of childhood are finally gone. [Ed.: In the interest of space and focus, we shall not discuss the fears that have replaced those.]

For example, one of my biggest worries when I lay in bed as a child was that the town water tower would tip over and wash me away while I slept. That was assuaged somewhat by a neighbor who assured me she was a great swimmer and would save me if disaster struck.

My other big worry was seasonal. I hated leaving my bedroom window open at night, because I was convinced a bird of prey could fly right through the screen and…attack me? Ask to listen to my little red AM radio? Caw “Nevermore” and leave? I don’t know, but suffice to say it was a concern.

Now, 40 years later, I learn that not only is this a valid fear, but I don’t even need the window open for it to happen.

See you in my dreams, birdies.

Give me your tired, your poor

As I was taking my after-work constitutional on this sunny day, I was greeted by a young man in the middle of the sidewalk on the main drag. “Do you like me in my uniform?” he asked. I replied yes, it was very nice, and I meant that.

Given my prolonged exposure to the military, however, I would not have called it a uniform. He was dressed as Lady Liberty, complete with a foam crown. I would have called it a costume, but perhaps that does not convey the gravitas he was looking for.

Blue October

This, by a Chicago doctor who’s never lived in our fair city (which is only slightly less odd than longtime superfan SungWoo Lee hailing from South Korea), is as succinct and well-written an assessment as you’ll find on the subject of the Royals’ improbable postseason.

What I can write about is how it felt to be in Kansas City this past month: It was wonderful. Downtown buildings were lit blue. The water in our 47 publicly owned fountains ran an unnatural royal blue as well. Blue flags fluttered from the streetlights. My church’s Sunday service is usually dismissed by the children of the parish, who remind us to go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Which they still did, adding, “Go Royals!”

The entire town was practically vibrating; I haven’t felt this kind of communal energy ever, not even in Chicago when the Bulls and White Sox were winning championships, and I was pretty happy then. One could argue that small-market Kansas Citians have fewer opportunities for distraction, and that is true. But another reason, I think, is just how charming the team in question is. There are no outsize egos, and only a couple of large (by local standards, not Yankees standards) salaries. It’s obvious from the season home run total that no one is on PEDs. Their down-home goofiness is exceeded only by their big hearts, whether it’s handing their waiters playoff tickets, meeting cancer fighters, playing catch with the young fans of opposing teams, or picking up the tab for everyone in a downtown pub.

Traffic’s been kinder. People are happier. More than that, they’re proud. Our city was on the national stage, and I don’t believe we disappointed. The amount of goodwill a little team gear can bring…I have several stories, but suffice to say that I’ve never been high-fived by several strangers upon walking into the corner bar when I wasn’t wearing a Royals cap.

Losing Game 7 — and the World Series — by 90 feet was crushing, much to my surprise. Somewhere along the line, I’d gone from saying any win past the wild card game was gravy — I don’t want to admit how many early-season games I had to turn off in disgust — to actually believing that the Series was the Royals’. They’d pulled out of so many tight spots; surely they could work one more miracle. But they didn’t, and my plans to take today off for the victory parade were for naught.

Even so, it’s hard to be down for long. It was a great run, and I’m Kansas City proud. Never was October baseball so much fun.

Where there’s smoke

It was a good summer. Not too many stifling three-digit-temperature days, and enough rain that we didn’t have to water much. However, the conditions were perfect for mosquitoes, which were out in unprecedented force. Just a backyard jaunt to the compost pile and a stop to pull a few weeds would result in several bites.

Insect repellent was the obvious, if not optimal, answer. In a quest to avert central nervous system damage, I bought some all-natural botanical stuff, which turned out to be useless. I think it actually attracted bugs.

The windows still needed washing, though. The only other possible solution at hand was a cigar.

Let us put aside for a moment the incongruity of a small middle-aged woman in workout clothes chomping on a large-ring-gauge stogie while squeegeeing windows. The point is: It worked.

There were some issues. I’ve smoked a few cigars in my lifetime, but never while trying to do something else. So sometimes multitasking would get the best of me and I would inhale when I hadn’t meant to, resulting in a paroxysm of coughing. Then there was the time I looked over my shoulder and burned my arm. And the time the wind came up and blew ash into my eyes. And the time I dropped the lit cigar into a pile of dry leaves.

However, I was absolutely bite-free after cleaning all the first-floor windows. Given the choice of a cigar and serious bug spray, I’ll choose the former every time. At least I’m sure what smoking will do to me.