Monday, August 27, 2012

The Good Luck Girl

Shit Happens. But does it have to happen to me?

I was happily enjoying a day at Jones Beach on Saturday, laying in the sand, half under an umbrella, half out, listening to the crashing waves and letting each one lull me into a state of relaxation. And while the careless other beach goers shuffled sand into my face and on my towel as they walked by, annoying conversations wafted into my ear space, and too many kids were afoot, I didn’t let any of it get me down. And then, shit happened.

In other words, a seagull flying over head let one go. From where I lay, I could see it as if in slow motion: the Hershey squirt rolling around in the air and morphing into an abstract splash of art before it landed in a warm splat on my leg. NOOOOOOO, I cried. Not again.

According to the World of Feng Shui and other Web sites (yes, I googled bird poop, why me?), bird shit is supposed to be an omen of good luck:

“Many people believe [a bird shitting on you] to be a major sign of wealth coming from heaven. Hence, although, it is really yucky and a major inconvenience, when something like this happens to you, take comfort in the fact that this is described as good luck being just around the corner!”
If this true, I ought to be really freaking lucky. Because this is not the first time I have been crop dusted by an avian bomb squad. No readers, I have been crapped on by birds in several countries, on two separate continents. Once, in my early 20s, it happened as I strolled around the river Seine in Paris. That time, my travelling companions told me I would be lucky in love. Harrumph.

Another time, it happened as I ate lunch at a café terrace in Barcelona. That time, my work colleagues told me to wash my hair quick to ward off cytomegalovirus.

So forgive me if, as I ran into the ocean on Saturday to rinse the fortuitous feces off of my person, I wasn’t feeling particularly comforted by this omen. Further reading suggested that this phenomenon is considered lucky because of the “what are the chances” aspect of being in the right place at the right time for the shit storm. I beg to differ. At Jones Beach, where masses of seagulls swoop around to steal scraps of people’s food, like a scene from the movie The Birds, I don’t think the chances of me being a prime target were so slim.

Looking at World of Feng Shui site, other good luck omens include the following: when you see a shooting star (yay!), when a butterfly flies into your home (cool!), when it rains and the sun is shining, producing a rainbow (oh my!). In fact, among the 18 omens listed, only one was seriously gross. Mine.

So stay tuned to see if I win the lottery, get my dream house, publish my first novel, or have Daniel Day Lewis tell me I’m the love of his life. Until then, I may take to walking the streets of New York City with a parasol.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Life Lessons From Sunny

Reenactment of Sunny in the lake.
We all have “one of those” people in our lives who can’t stop talking about their pets (or kids), obviously pets being the more tolerable of the two topics. And while pets are cute, I often don’t feel the need to hear a play by play of what they’re up to, their furry antics, or their bathroom schedule. It can be annoying, can't it? Great – now that I got that out of the way, I'm going to completely break protocol here and tell an annoying, cute, sentimental pet story.

This past weekend I vacationed with my family in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. We were all lounging on our floating dock, with Sunny, my golden retriever, included. If we don’t bring the dog to sit with us by the lake, she cries and whines from the house, as she is the neediest dog on the planet. Wonder where she got that from.

Suddenly a small duck was seen making its way across the lake, some 20 feet or so from the dock. Sunny was immediately on red alert, ears lifted, tail straight back, whining away. I had her leash wrapped around a chair on the dock, as she never listens and will run off at a moment’s notice. Not sure where she gets that from either.

“We should let her loose and see what she does,” I said, as I knew she would never get in the water. You see, even though golden retrievers supposedly love water, my dog is deathly afraid of it. As a puppy back in Barcelona, Spain, she’d accidently fallen into the pool at my old house. I'd scooped her out immediately, but she’d never gotten over the trauma. Even years later when I would bring her into the pool with me, she’d cry and scamper out as soon as she could. If I was swimming, she’d run to the other side of the yard and hide. I could have drowned and she wouldn’t have come in to save me.

Now as the duck circled around, teasing Sunny into a frenzy, I unclipped her leash and she bounded off the dock to the shoreline of the lake. In total hunter mode, she bounced back and forth along the shore energetically. Feeling slightly bad for teasing her in this way, I was about to go get her when suddenly and gloriously she dove into the water. She took a few uncertain steps, and then began to swim. Her little head bobbed up and down as she pursued the duck with reckless abandon.

“She can’t swim!! OMG she can’t swim!” I cried, flailing my arms about unbecomingly, like a spastic mother whose seven-year-old child had just jumped into the water. But of course she could swim. She’s a dog.

The gap began to close between Sunny and the duck. And though the whole thing was very comical, I suddenly began to worry for the duck’s life. “She’s gonna eat the duck! OMG she is gonna eat that MOFO duck!” I cried, while continuing to flail.

But the duck, tiring of the chase, eventually flapped its wings and flew a distance away. Knowing she’d missed her chance, Sunny turned back towards us. I could almost hear her saying “Oh sheeeeiiit” as her retrieval mode faded and she realized she was now in the middle of the lake. But after a pause, she began to swim back gracefully, climbed out of the water, shook herself off all over us, plopped down on the grass and basked in the sun and her glory.

As I watched her, so relaxed and unaware of her accomplishment, I began to envy her animal instinct, which was clearly stronger than any fear she harbored. I thought about my fears, which are a plenty (fear of death, fear of illness, fear of flying, fear of the dark, fear of heights, fear of crowds, fear of beards [kidding about the last one, but it is a REAL fear!]). It dawned on me that over the years I’ve let those stupid fears keep me from doing so many things that I love. And that I needed to start diving in head first, letting my animal instinct take over. Be more like Sunny. Except not as hairy, smelly, wayward and gluttonous, of course.