Vultures have been circling my house for days. It's as if they know something I don't. As I write this, I'm staring out the window watching 11 birds of prey riding the wind high above the lake. Perhaps they're just playing a game of tag. Perhaps they are just fishing. Or perhaps they are staring back at me, determining what size Phillips screwdriver they need to dismantle the window that separates us so they can swoop in and carry me away to their collective nest on the highest ledge of the nearest mountain, where I will be turned into a smorgasbord for their hatchlings. Each one of those options is equally viable.
I have a weird relationship with birds. I don't love them as I do the manatee. (All manatees do is float and eat. Every one is currently living my best life. If Oprah wants to inspire, she should give manatees their own show on OWN.) I don't fear them as I do cats. (You know that cats are up to something devious.) They are not my spirit animal. That, unfortunately, belongs to the snake. (If any snake has become literate and is reading this, I was totally just kidding about that "unfortunately" part. Please stay away from me and my children.) However, they always seem to be in my life, talking, chattering, telling me tales in a language that I don't speak.
When I was little, we had lovebirds, which was an odd misnomer because they appeared to hate each other. They were given many names over the years, but the ones that stuck were Destructive and Destroyer — which should give you an idea of the havoc they unleashed on our house. We moved on to cockatiels, one of which, to this day, follows my dad everywhere and flies upstairs to his bedroom to take naps with him.
My dad loves birds, on more than one occasion nearly driving us off the road to point out an eastern bluebird or a common yellowthroat. When my dad thinks someone is being particularly silly, he calls that person a blue-footed booby. When he thinks someone is being particularly daft, he calls that person a dodo. It is perhaps his biggest personal failure that he has never quite been able to determine which genus Big Bird belongs to — something that will surely plague him for the rest of his life. Yet for all his obvious connections to our aviary acquaintances, he doesn't see beyond the chirping, cheeping and "pretty bird"-ing. To him, birds are not omens but pals.
I disagree. Perhaps my strained relationship with our feathered friends comes from an incident in first grade. I asked my mom whether I could take Destructive's eggs to school for show and tell. She said I could as long as I was very careful with them. And I was careful — super careful. I put them gently into my backpack. Imagine my surprise when I got to school and pulled out a folder covered in yolk.
Revenge felt inevitable. Every time a bird has pooped on me, I've known why. Every time parrots squawked outside my Australian bedroom, waking me before dawn, I knew the chirp chain had found me yet again.
Friends insist that I'm being hysterical. Birds poop, and they squawk, and they read the earth better than we do. That doesn't mean they are trying to communicate.
I have it on good authority that my friends are underestimating the winged wanderers. An aboriginal shaman I used to stay with in the Outback always knew when and where to greet me on his expansive property. When I asked how he knew I was coming when there had been no correspondence between us, he always said the birds told him. And I believe they did.
So why have the vultures been circling? Do they simply know that my son's Thomas & Friends DVDs are about to experience a quick death, as I am one toot away from tossing those irritating rail runners into the trash? Or do they sense the end of something far more sinister? Or are they here to exact organized revenge for the infamous egg incident of 1988? Or perhaps I've seen too many Disney movies and animals don't actually talk.
Either way, I'm about to buy the circling scavengers a steak dinner from Applebee's and hope we can call it square.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.