About five minutes ago, I was up on a ladder. Ordinarily, this would have been no big deal. However, to my mother, it was a very big deal. Apparently, she had recently read an article about a sixteen-year-old girl who had died after falling from a ladder.
What a coincidence.
So, after we debated at length whether I was more likely to die if I wore sneakers or flip-flops while I was up there, I got to climb the ladder. In sneakers. Which were ‘properly tied,’ according to my mom. According to me, the damn things were strapped onto my feet like I was preparing for an outer space mission which requires all gear to be airtight. Every time I took a step, the rough fabric grated over the blister on my right heel, which had already popped and bled everywhere once, thank you very much. In my opinion, this method of torture should be shared with the CIA.
I placed my left foot onto the bottom rung. “One small step for man,” I whispered.
“Will you just get the nest down already?” said my mom.
I sighed inwardly, my Armstrong-esque moment ruined.
Anyway, I was climbing up the ladder to retrieve one of several bird nests that had been built on our house. I live in the middle of a forest, and apparently, the birds were reclaiming their territory. There were four nests – three of which were out back on the deck – but the one I had been sent to destroy was right next to my bedroom window; and I had been listening to bird squawks for two weeks straight.
I usually procrastinate about any form of work, but I’d been jumping the gun to get this nest down for… about two weeks. Sadly for me, my mom insisted that we wait until all the baby birds had flown away, after which there was no freaking point to taking the nest down because everything was quiet again.
My mom didn’t follow my logic.
So I went up the ladder, my hands clad in a pair of ill-fitting latex gloves, to grab the nest. My mom waited anxiously below.
“Is there anything dead in there?” she called.
Yes, people, that’s right. I had been chosen for the mission not because of my youth and agility; but because I am the only member of the family that is both willing to climb a ladder and unafraid to come face-to-face with a dead baby bird.
But there was nothing in the nest except for a bunch of poo, so I tossed it to the ground and began my descent.
“Wanna clean all the bird crap that’s up there?” my mom asked.
“Not really,” I replied. I had tried to warn her about the birds. Once they are hatched, they morph into 360-degree shit-splattering bird bombs with a range of up to five feet. In any case, there was bright blue berry-induced bird shit coating a sizable chunk of the house. I might enjoy cleaning bones, but scraping party-colored crap from a vertical piece of wood fifteen feet in the air is not exactly my kind of thing. “It actually gives the house a nice touch,” I said to her. “Like one of those ‘accents’ that’s supposed to make everything look awesome. It’s a cool bit of contrast. Livens things up.”
Maybe it was my sales pitch, maybe my mom just felt bad for me. She let me come down.
Then it was on to the nests around the deck. One thing you should know about me: I’m too short to stand on a four-legged stool and successfully get down three bird nests from deck supports. My mom had to do it while I stood there and wondered if I could dodge the falling pieces of moss well enough to get in the house without becoming infested by parasites.
I decided not to risk it. Instead, I walked over to a stump that had been uprooted by my father and sat down on it.
“Oh yeah,” my mom said from behind me. “I needed to move that.”
I was automatically enlisted for the job.
First, we tried to push the stupid thing. It wouldn’t move. Pulling it didn’t work either. Neither did picking it up. Neither did kicking it and mumbling cuss words.
Eventually, we settled on rolling it. There was just one problem: We couldn’t control where it was headed. Despite this, we got it where we wanted it. Then we turned to face the dented shed, cracked wheelbarrow, and torn-up grass behind us.
“Mission accomplished?” my mom said.
“Neil Armstrong ain’t got nothing on us,” I replied.
And we went in the house.