When I label a ton of bricks like I recently did all afternoon at The Grind my thoughts naturally stray from the mind-numbing task at hand and I start wondering. I wonder about what became of my grade school peers, people I primarily last saw in 1973 most of whom I loathed and whose names have faded from memory, but their acne and braces have real staying power. Are they now happy and fulfilled, or miserable and adrift? Do the girls look dowdy, have the guys lost their hair, how many of them are orphans, how many are dead themselves? On that uplifting note, my mind drifted in the direction of the somnambulant: what should I prepare for dinner, chicken with steamed spinach or fish with zucchini? To regain some semblance of consciousness, my thoughts shifted to a reliable source of pick-me-up: sex. But they landed there only for a moment; about the length of time it takes me to maintain interest having descended into being a magnet for women who are dedicated practitioners of room clearing halitosis. Instead of suggesting, “I’ll bring the wine” when invited over, would it be misinterpreted if I offered to bring the Listerine?
Suddenly my reverie was interrupted with a familiar musical interlude for those of you like me who find the frantic beating of pigeon wings on an air conditioner soothing. As I listened to the rock doves clamoring outside that were either passionately mating or engaging in a feather flying turf war, both acts uncannily sound equally aerobic, I thought:
Me: What a joyful noise!
According to this veteran avian observer, when pigeons party on the air conditioner like it’s 1999, that means that the temperature outside might actually be the unthinkable: above freezing. According to the New York Times, “By January’s end, if the forecast holds, there will have been 15 days with temperatures in the teens or lower.” By the Times’ count, January 2014 has had only “roughly four days” with average temperatures. I checked the temperature on my phone and saw the unimaginable this winter. It was a balmy 45 degrees!
Me: I could tear off my clothes and run around the block naked and screaming.
Then, I remembered that if I did that, there might be many clothed people screaming right back at me including my superior, Elspeth:
Elspeth: Put your clothes back on and finish labeling these bricks!
Of course three hours later, when it was quitting time, it had plummeted to 28 and I could not be clothed enough.
I informed my colleague, Godsend, that the temperature was once again in freefall. I accessed my inner Al Roker, minus the lap band, and forecast that it would be about 25 when she returned to Queens that evening. I warned her that the longer it would take her to get home, the lower it would go. If she delayed getting back until 2 am, it might only be 16. She assured me that she was going straight home. In fact, mentally, she seemed to be following my lead and had not shown up to The Grind at all that day.
Back to pigeons in winter, when they are not around, or worse, when they appear, but their feathers are puffy and they’re perched quietly, like this one planted outside my window over the weekend, when it was a bone chilling 18, then you know that’s a sure sign that it’s frigid cold again.