All was quiet, right before a large projectile hit the back of my head.
It was a glorious spring day, and my daughter and I were taking a stroll on Grandville Island.
“AuuuuoooooooWTHEE!” I yelled, a mixture of ow and whathe? Someone had thrown a rock at me! Only it had… claws. My fingers checked for blood, and my daughter called it.
‘Grumpy crow!” she said, her eyes wide, having just seen it fly off her Mom.
I was shaking, fingers searching through my hair as I dragged my daughter away from the airborne assault. I’ve never had anything hit me in the head before, except maybe a snowball, or in a dodge-ball game I’d lost (I distinctly remember the ThhhwacKK of the rubber ball bouncing off the side of my head, more than once).
This was me facing my fears, head on. No pun intended.
Everyone has a few fears that are borne of something unexplained. When I was a kid, I would ride my bike past a hedge that was often filled with screeching sparrows. I felt it was not only a possibility that they might all fly out at the EXACT same moment as I rode past, but an actual certainty. I knew that they would, I could feel it. They were all going to fly out and peg me, maybe taking out an eye, spearing me with their beaks. I look back and think, huh, you never thought to just ride on the other side of the road? No, I barreled past, waiting for impact, to and from school, for years. And one day, I just forgot about it. I tucked that one into the subconscious, where it would later spring out like a jack-in-the-box.
In college I worked at a pharmacy co-op, where one of the pharmacists was a god of homeopathy. People came from all over to speak to him about their ailments, some physical, some mental. I’d recently had the “something is going to peg me” feeling. I found myself looking up, checking for loose branches on trees, dodging construction sites. Maybe this is what it’s like for those who can’t leave their house, or fear spiders intensely.
I mustered up the nerve to ask Peter about it.
“So, have you ever heard of someone feeling anxious about random things hitting them in the head? I think about it, um, quite a bit…and I have no idea why.” My face flushes with the stupidity of this question. Peter looks at me through his glasses, always up for a challenge. No, he can’t think of anything offhand. He looks in his tattered homeopathy bible. I assume it will turn up. He tells looks up a few things, flips the pages back and forth, to and fro, seemingly on to something. Then he looks up.
“Nope. Nothing, I’m afraid I can’t help you with this one. It’s very specific, but nothing I have here is for that particular specific fear…”
I smile and thank him anyway, feeling like a jerk. What idiot thinks things are going to fall from the sky onto their head, besides Wil E. Coyote?
Just as the fear came, it was gone again. It may have lurked about, poking in the corners of my head, but as I got older and learned some actual life lessons, imaginary fears were replaced with real ones.
So when the crow hit me, I hadn’t seen it coming. I’d heard it in the trees, cawing away, but it was high above me, and wasn’t it a nice day today, with the sun shining, holding my little girls hand, tra la la la la…
“Might have been your dye-job,” my Mom offered, with a laugh. I’d finished telling her my head was a horrible mistake of colour, and now it throbbed.
A few words of random advice:
1) Don’t give yourself a shocking red dye job from a box that is on sale, of a brand you’ve never tried. You become a target, possibly of more than ridicule.
2) Note the relative silence before a crow is about to smack you. This means they have stopped yelling “Get away from my baby, you horrible hair-dyed FREAK!” and are on their way to the back of your skull.
3) Don’t look up too much, waiting for impending doom. You are more likely to trip and fall into a hole, actually hurting yourself.
I no longer fear the mysterious object careening into my head. It’s happened. It hurt like hell. But after two Tylenol and a beer, it’s not so bad. It was only a crow, and my head can take it.
On to more realistic things to freak out about!