Thursday I had to be in the city for an afternoon appointment, so I arranged to meet Daughter near the Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side after she dismissed her students for the day. I texted her my location on a bench inside the park that surrounds the vast museum, a lush, wooded area with winding paths called MacArthur Park, a fact I didn’t know until I saw the bronze sign at the entrance gate.
Well, this is just charming, I thought, as I took a seat and opened my book. Very soon, a pair of pigeons landed a few feet from me and started pecking around for crumbs. My thoughts wandered, and I considered whether this was the MacArthur Park from the song of the same name. Also, whether anyone really knew what the hell that song meant with its bizarre sweet green icing flowing down in a tortured voice. As a refresher, here is verse one, guaranteed to leave you scratching your head and mumbling WTF??
Spring was never waiting for us, girl
It ran one step ahead
As we followed in the dance
Between the parted pages and were pressed
In love’s hot, fevered iron
Like a striped pair of pants.
Truly. Right about then, I looked up and noticed there had to be fifty pigeons pecking near my bench. I looked around and saw people on all the other benches, but the pigeons were only around mine. Not only that, they were growing sinister in their proximity. One was pecking the ground a half-inch from my sandal. I stamped my foot and the bird didn’t even flinch. I’m not convinced pigeons are real birds anyway. They’re more like robobirds or birdnoids. No scatter instinct at all. If they could be intimidated, it wasn’t by me.
I got up and moved to the bench next to a group of Asian tourists eating bagels. I hated to sick the birds on a bunch of visitors, but I was frankly a little spooked. Within minutes, the flock was surrounding my bench again, this time joined by a sprinkling of jumpy little sparrows. The sparrows were literally hopping up next to me. Since the Asians on the next bench didn’t speak English, I pointed at them and yelled, “Bagel crumbs!!” to the birdnoids. The Asians threw their heads back and laughed, their teeth coated with cream cheese. The birds ignored my invitation to go away and moved closer.
Daughter waved from the entrance with her trademark big smile, and I tried to shoo the birdnoids toward the Asians, who had literally covered the ground around them with bagel bits. I stood up quickly, but the birds weren’t fazed. I must look just like their regular crumb lady, some sad phobic who sits on a bench in a housedress, tossing out stale pound cake cooing, “Here kitty, kitty, kitty.”
As we walked along Columbus Avenue looking at restaurant menus for juicy hamburgers, I said to Daughter, “Did you know that park around the museum is called MacArthur Park?” “If you say so,” she said, pointing to the newly opened uptown Shake Shack, home of New York’s best burger. “I hope it’s the same as the one downtown,” she said, reading the menu in the window. All I could think was if someone left a cake out in the rain, those pigeons would be all over it.
Color In The City peeks out from Daughter’s Featured Fotos