Lame Adventure 473: It’s Raining Rats!

On evenings when I return home to my sacred space straight from The Grind, my creature of habit routine is comprised of preparing dinner and eating it at my dining table while watching the nightly news on TV. After finishing my entrée, I transfer to the couch for dessert. By the time Phil Mickelson shows up to shill Enbrel, whatever the hell that is, the dynamic-less duo of food coma and sheer boredom have cast their spell and I’ve nodded out. Falling asleep at this point in the broadcast is convenient timing because it allows me to miss the sap-filled human-interest story at the end that always triggers my gag reflex.

On this particular summer evening I woke with a start remembering that I had to run a very important errand at my neighborhood Papyrus, the card shop. Next week is my colleague Godsend’s birthday. I reminded Stu, The Grind’s owner, that our graphics designer is turning 28. Stu reflected philosophically:

Stu: I have socks older than her.

Godsend is not only my colleague, but she is a valued friend, a close confidant and often, my collaborator.

Godsend and me looking film noir-ish at The Grind. Photo by The Boss.

Godsend and me looking very film noir-ish at The Grind. Photo by The Boss.

I had to find the perfect card for someone so dear, a card that combines the key ingredients of sophistication, wit, and good design. But, by the time I arrived, the store was about to close in nineteen seconds so I snagged one at half price from the What Were We Thinking bin.

As I walked south on Broadway, I noticed a small crowd gathered outside the Chase bank at the corner of West 73rd Street. They were gazing upward; many were smiling that goofy, mush-headed smile usually reserved for puppies, kittens, babies — anyone freshly hatched. Several were taking pictures with their smart phones. At first, I could not figure out what they were looking at, but I reasoned it probably was not someone attempting suicide. Then I saw it: a fluffy bird perched on the bank’s clock. It was my turn to flash a mush-headed smile.

Clock percher.

Clock percher.

As much as I love birds, if it’s not a pigeon, mourning dove or Thanksgiving dinner, I’m lost when it comes to identifying our flying friends. This critter was no exception so I bellowed:

Me: What kind of bird is that?

That opened the floodgates of response. It’s a red tailed hawk. Someone opined that it is probably a relative of Pale Male, a legendary red tailed hawk that nests at 927 Fifth Avenue, apparently with co-op board approval. He’s currently on his eighth wife. Maybe his name should be Larry King. Normally, these birds of prey nest in trees, but Pale Male plays by his own rules. Because the hawk atop the  clock is fuzzy, someone pronounced it a fledgling. Because it’s young, it’s still honing its hunting skills, which explains why it dropped its dinner.

Dinner. Freshly killed.

Dinner. Freshly killed.

That rat falling out of the sky is what first created the stir on the sidewalk. Had I witnessed that pre-show entertainment, I would have been so traumatized, I would have needed therapy. As I was snapping a shot of the rodent, a middle-aged woman holding A Serious Camera asked me:

Serious Camera Woman: Is it dead?

Me: I don’t think it’s going to sing Everything’s Coming Up Roses again.

She nudged its head with her toe, a gesture I found so repugnant, I bolted. Something about making physical contact with a dead rat gives me industrial strength willies. I also didn’t want to witness it spring back to life, even if that meant missing it channel Ethel Merman.

When I returned to my oasis, My Doorman greeted me. I showed him the pictures I shot of the hawk. He’s a bird enthusiast and said that many red tailed hawks live near 116th and Riverside. Like the hawk expert in the crowd, he also thinks it dropped its dinner because it’s in the learner’s permit stage of development. I reasoned that maybe it was for the best:

Me: How was he going to eat that rat? He wasn’t sitting on that clock holding a knife and fork.

My Doorman: He’d shred it. When they’re flying around, hang onto the Chihuahua.

Ingesting that factoid, I entered the elevator promising to keep that advice in mind.

"I'm so hungry."

“I’m so hungry.”

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47 responses to “Lame Adventure 473: It’s Raining Rats!

  1. You know…everybody’s got to eat. That rat would be a big meal for the hawk. I don’t think it really planned to eat it. It wanted a good look at the humans and their reactions. Sounds like it got a good show from that vantage point at 8:05 pm.

    I’ve never seen a hawk take a chihuahua. But, I have seen one grab a squirrel and fly off with it. It was right outside our back door under the feeder. Squirrel had turned its back on danger. Bad move, Rocky.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Poor little squirrel, Jim! But, hey that’s the law of nature. You snooze, you lose your life. Seeing that hawk perched on that clock was superb street theater. When I showed The Boss my pictures of it this morning, she reminded that last year one almost swooped down and nabbed her cat, a significantly-sized Maine Coon, out of her yard! Fortunately, Stu, Elspeth’s husband, was able to jet propel himself. He saved the cat. That was a scary close call!

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  2. Who knew? Red-tailed hawks in The Big Apple! We see them all the time here in Colorado, but they’re flying over the foothills looking for mice, baby rabbits and even other birds. I suspect that there are lots of rats and mice for easy pickings and I’m pretty sure, they could take a chihuahua with no problems – maybe not that youngster, but a full-grown one certainly could.

    Great post, V.! I’m glad you’re enjoying your new sacred space!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was aware of Pale Male, Cathy, but I never put any thought into encountering one of relatives in my neighborhood. seeing that youngster perched atop the clock was pretty special, but knowing that it could drop rats on the sidewalk below is pretty disturbing. I wish these guys could order in.

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Life is good in the sacred space and I love all my doormen and my live-in super. Those guys rock.

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  3. Holy crap, flying red hawks and dead rats? Are you in Manhattan or Hills Have Eyes Country, V? There seems to be some similarities.

    I know the rats love pizza and subways in NYC and too bad this little fella did make it to the pizza party. I don’t think I would’ve had to nudge it to determine it’s plight. The lack of movement would’ve clued me in. Yuck. Circle of life, whatta ya gonna do? Maybe you could pitch this for one of those gag-reflex sap stories; you have the pictures, V.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brig, until someone pointed out that dead rat hugging the wall below, I was completely oblivious to what started this very entertaining show. Milton, who sports a shaved head, texted me that this post has left him traumatized now that he has to keep an eye out for rats that might land on his head! That would be true Lame Adventures terror!

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  4. Yea Hawks. Boo Rats.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great to hear from you V. Love the Film Noir shot of you and collaborator at The Grind.

    Cheers,

    R.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That certain people must poke and prod dead animals is just plain unsettling, to my mind. Interestingly, I have a somewhat parallel bird story. The other night I heard the call of a barred owl (distinctive — it sounds like “Who cooks for you?”), then watched its beautiful, silent flight. It landed on the power line by the transformer, got zapped in a flash of light, fell to the hood of a car parked at the curb, and then to the ground. Short version of the story: It’s a baby owl, 2-3 mos. old and it lived. Neighbors calmed the owl, gave it water and called Tri-State Bird Rescue who came and got the owl and they’ve flown in an owl-expert vet to perform surgery on a fractured wing and help heal the little owl’s burns. They’ll release it back into the area when its healthy — it’s mom was calling for it.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Imagine that, though, LA… sitting in a safe place, about to eat your catch when you notice a gathered crowd below. You take to your best pose so folk can recognise you when suddenly you drop your meal. And then it gets worse as those below start playing with your food! You know there’s noting you can do about it, so you have to look cute.
    That photo of you… very Film Noir-ish!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Imagine that indeed, Tom! What a way to ruin a day: you perch atop a welcoming clock, ready to dig into your feast when — bam! — you drop it! That must have been something to screech about. Then, it gets worse: a crowd gathers prohibiting you from casually swooping down and picking it back up. A red-tailed hawk just can’t get cut a break!

      Elspeth is the best photographer I know. She has a terrific eye for composition and has great technique.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Very spiffy card you picked up there. I love the noir-ish photo– very cool.
    Never a dull moment in your fine city, aka WildKingdom? And, thats just major gross that lady nudged the rat.
    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Audra! If she had been wearing a sandal instead of a sneaker when she nudged it, my knees would have buckled. I’m still debating whether she was fearless or stupid-filled.

      Like

  9. Great shot of the hawk. The wild has come to play in the city, but it sounds as if they are plentiful. I never would have guessed. The card will make her laugh, I’m sure! I never feel like I pick out the right one no matter how much time I spend. Great to see you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s a lot of urban wildlife in NYC, Amy, and that’s not a reference to most of my exes! One of my friends who resides in Brooklyn saw a skunk there, photographed it and posted it on FB. Thanks to Pale Male’s eccentric choice of place to nest, a high end residential building as opposed to a tree, red-tailed hawks are a fairly beloved bird of prey out here. … Until one grabs the chihuahua.

      Godsend opens her card next Monday. I think she’ll dig it. She’s been warned to stay off this site until further notice.

      Great to see you, too!

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  10. Another great Lame Adventure! Rats aren’t my favorite critters, but I’d take one of those instead of the skunk that got into our fenced backyard recently.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I supposed I’d take a rat over a skunk, too, Melissa, but finding myself in close proximity to either guarantees a Full Freak Out. i hope that skunk found its way out of your yard pronto. Did it know how to work the latch to gain entry? Glad you liked the post!

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  11. I thought this blog was as dead as Larry King’s dinner up there. Three posts per year doesn’t cut it. And the last one was only pics. Do you want your blogging card revoked? They don’t play around.

    It’s been quiet in the theater world for me. Ironically, the last thing I saw was a performance of a flock of pigeons with LED lights strapped to their ankles flying around the East River after dark. I’m not joking. It was very trippy. It made me wish I hadn’t misplaced my bong 20 years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always figure that when I decide to pull the plug on this site I’ll write an end post. Or not. Encountering that hawk was inspiring. Plus I had pictures.

      Milton and I saw a three hour play tonight at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi Newhouse, Oslo, about the secret Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that took place in the early 90s. It was critics’ night. Ben Brantley sat a few rows in front of us (I noticed that he has a kitten on his cellphone’s wallpaper; go figure) and Hilton Als was behind us. Milton thought that either he either had a breathing problem or was snoring. I smelled cough drops so possibly he had a cold. Long nights of theater like that cut into my blogging time. What a slog. We’re not fans of the playwright, J.T. Rogers, but at least this one stars Jefferson Mays and Jennifer Ehle. They got us through it, but I agree with Milton, “You better be Eugene O’Neill if you expect me to sit through your three hour play.” That guy’s no Eugene O’Neill.

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      • Eugene O’Neill or Shakespeare. Oslo is on my A-list. I’m sorry to hear it’s a drag and doubly sorry to hear it’s three hours long.

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        • You might like it. But we noticed a lot of empty seats following the second intermission. Milton would have gladly left had I not wanted to stay. It’s not boring, but I would have preferred reading this story in a Sunday Times Magazine article. If it were a brisk 90 minutes with no intermissions, I would have preferred that.

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          • Well, I love political theater so I’m going, three hours notwithstanding. Why do they do that? Idiots.

            Those Sunday Times Magazine articles never seem to end. It’s a tsunami of words. They let those writers indulge themselves.

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            • But at least you can put a magazine down and pick it up again. Theater, when it’s a long slog, even theater peppered with wit throughout as this play was (a device we found irritating as if the audience required the sugar of humor to get down this medicine), made us feel as if we were being held in captivity. If you saw Rogers’ Blood and Gifts and liked it, this one might rock your world. That one, we left at intermission. I kept nodding out. It was like Sominex to me.

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  12. Your boss snapped a fabulous photo V.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. A hawk has to do what a hawk must do … fly, eat, excrete, and sleep. .

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I just love reading about you lame adventures. Your descriptions and story telling are hilarious. Please don’t stop.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pleased you’re enjoying (sort of) your adventures with feathered wild life.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. More hawks = less rats, so good all around. Birds can and do pick up small dogs. I had two neighbors who lost Yorkies, one to an eagle and the other an owl. Another neighbor found their cat with talon marks on its back one day. It was a 20-pound cat so being fat saved its life – too heavy for the bird to take.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The birds I fear the worst are the variety who followed Mel Brooks in “High Anxiety.” It’s amazing how they can poop-bomb with such accuracy. but I suppose they’ve been practicing since Mom first booted them out of the nest, and after all, it is their natural calling.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. My wife was laying on a blanket in our front yard last summer when she was showered in feathers from the tree above her. She looked up and saw that a red tailed hawk had just caught and killed a mourning dove just a few feet above her. She is less apt to lay on a blanket under that tree.

    Liked by 1 person

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