I love urban legends: The one about the killer calling the babysitter from inside the house, or the acne that turned out to be a quivering pod of spider eggs. You know, all those.
But my favorite is the one about how you can cause pigeons and seagulls to explode by giving them Alka-Seltzer. I’m serious. EXPLODE.
This myth is cool for the science-fair, medico-extravagance of it. But I also harbor a fairly pathological grudge against seagulls. Sure, their winsome cry carrying on the breeze hearlds the nearness of the endless sea. Thousands of poems and stories and paintings concern themselves with these ocean-going fowl. But I lost all romance toward the seagull when a GIANT group of them ate an entire bag – including the bag – of Chips A’hoy cookies while my buddy and I were surfing once. I’m STILL looking forward to eating those cookies, and that was 8 years ago.
Why do they explode? Apparently, birds have a one-way alimentary tract, which means they can’t burp. Give them something effervescent, all that gas has nowhere to go aaaaand – POW! Alice, straight to the moon.
You can understand, then, why my favorite patient currently is a guy who actually tested this one-way-no-burp-POW! theory. For all my grudges against the birds, I’m still too much of a softy to actually blow them up.
Not Jake, though. He went for it. And still doesn’t feel bad about it.
He went with pigeons – same class as seagulls, if I was the ornithologist in charge – and trying out the theory got him kicked out of the Army. ‘Course, he tried it on 8 birds at the same time. After he stuffed them into his commanding officer’s new Chevy Tahoe.
“So, it really works, then? They blow up?”
“Yeah, it works.” He said, looking bored and chewing on a cuticle as I nearly wept with laughter.
“They ALL exploded in your commander’s car?”
Suddenly he perked up, eyes sharp and intelligent, “Nah, not all of ’em. Some just shit all over the place.”
Imagining his commander’s reaction the next morning after finding the most colossal mess of all time, just brightens my day every time I think about it.
By some miracle, this guy got away with his life after that episode. More miraculously, after getting CHAPTERED out of the military (basically a court-martial without the court or jail), he got back into the Army just a few years later. “On a wavier for bi-polar disorder, in remission.” He said with a wicked smirk. “Needed a paycheck.”
I can only imagine the ever-positive recruiter. “Oh, well, 8 pigeons? Only 8? I’ll check the regs…there’s probably nothing in there that expressly forbids entry into the military for blowing up birds. No problem, man. I’m sure we’re good. Now, I can’t promise you a bonus, you understand..”
Now he’s on his way back out of the military, via my unit. He’s wry, filled with black, intelligent wit and flat-out hates authority. I’m not sure I’d call this a mental disorder… but in the Army, a guy like this is nothin’ but stark-raving nuts.
Of course, once he gets bored…he’ll be back.