The True Meaning of Flappiness

As we’ve seen, all kinds of crazy business can happen on the subway. You could fall in love or throw up or be grazed by seven to eight strange crotches at the same time (guess which one is most likely?). But what I’m about to tell you is crazier than anything I could have ever imagined and it is absolutely true.

I was on the 1 train heading downtown for an audition. I noticed a man sitting across from me, showing his son different things on a shoe-themed New York City map. Shoe themes always catch my eye. As the doors began to slide closed at 72nd Street, a pigeon flew into the car. I don’t know many people who like pigeons, but I have an absolute phobia of them. Birds in general make me uncomfortable and pigeons are the flappiest, most diseased of them all. I never wish a pigeon harm, but I have been flown at, pooped on and generally abused by them, so I am never thrilled to be near one, much less trapped in a small, enclosed space with them. Had I been standing up, I might have gone fetal.

Fortunately, I had a seat, so I could maintain a small modicum of dignity. The confused and reasonably terrified bird flew two full lengths of the car before the man with the shoe map stood up and caught the bird with his bare hands.

This is the only time in my life that I have seen an entire subway car of New Yorkers staring with their mouths hanging open. This guy with a dad-goatee caught this pigeon. Then he just sat back down, holding the pigeon and telling his son to pet its head. There are no words for the shock and adulation flowing through the car like a current.

Then it got weird.

As we approached 66th Street, I thought the guy would probably get out and release the pigeon. When we got to 59th, I was sure he would let this pigeon off the train. No, he just sat there holding it. A police officer got on and stood right next to him without saying a word about this. I feel certain there is a law, or at least an ordinance about having a pigeon on the subway without a leash. Not New York’s Finest’s finest moment.

I never found out what happened to that pigeon or the man and his son. Sometimes I look for them (the people, not the bird) in my neighborhood, but the search is fruitless. I got off the train at 50th Street, went to my audition and booked the job, making that day a lot luckier for me than for the pigeon.

This picture has no bearing on my story, but I found it in my Google search for pigeon pictures. Mike Tyson, there are no words.

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3 thoughts on “The True Meaning of Flappiness

  1. I share your phobia of pigeons. Well, not a phobia so much as a hatred. You see, one summer a family of pigeons decided our balcony (which, I should point out, is neither better nor worse than a hundred other identical balconies in our condo complex), would be their home sweet home. Unbeknownst to us, they made a nest in the flower pots stored in the rafters, which unbeknownst to us hatched baby pigeons. I pulled the pot down all unbeknowing and had the scare of my life.

    Pigeons are pigheaded; they had decided no other balcony would do, and wouldn’t leave us alone. We spent the whole summer cowering behind a floor-to-ceiling chicken wire barricade. It was like living on Riker’s Island. Damn pigeons.

  2. Pingback: Will Things Ever Be The Same Again? It’s the Final Countdown | petulantpanda

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