Monday, September 12, 2016

Breakfast After the Fall

I just got back from a week in San Diego, mostly La Jolla Cove, a prime intersection between coastal wildlife and pleasure seekers. While there was plenty of wildlife to enjoy, this is about the not-so-wildlife, namely the birds that make rooftop, continental breakfast (code for cheap but decent) a challenging experience. A short pretext from Genesis for the story goes like this; God made people and animals get along in the beginning (people and birds ate happily together). Then we sinned and he cursed them along with us (I can see some room for resentment there). Then, after the flood, God made them afraid of us and we went our own ways (especially after the ark, we probably needed the space by then and there was plenty of it). Today, the mistrust is still there but there's not as much space, especially on the San Diego coast, and we're unhappily eating breakfast togetherish.

Day one, we learned that you can't leave any food unattended, I mean not for one second. There's a hand rail around the entire roof top for them to perch on within fifteen feet of any table and it takes them approximately half an angry arm swing to dive in, grab your food and fly off. Thankfully they prioritize the easier targets, which means that if you listened to the staff's warning about them, you'll get the sadistic enjoyment of watching them steal whole eggs, English muffins and danishes from those who end up several angry arm swings away before they realize the threat.

Day two, their strategy advances with your own. If you're a repeat breakfast eater, they know you're on to them so they stand back and learn your routine - who goes in first, second, etc. - and what each persons plate is likely to contain. They don't need the table to be unattended. They just need half an angry arm swing between the target and the nearest plate watcher. Remember that while an angry arm swing can be understood literally, it's more of a time unit. It's about as long as it takes to bend down and pick up a dropped fork or put a bib on a child, predictable parts of the routine.

Day three. Have you seen all those wildlife documentaries where the predator picks out the weak or small one to go after? By day three, there's little option for the birds beyond direct confrontation and even the children are wise to their tactics so only the avian judo masters are going to get the good stuff. In this case that means landing on the two year old's head and gulping down her oatmeal directly out of her bowl while everyone stares in momentary disbelief trying to make sense of what's actually happening. And then, even if there is someone within half an angry arm swing, the swing comes just a little slower to avoid accidentally smacking the child, which provides just enough time to escape with the goods. Genius!

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