Thursday, March 7, 2013

Peckers and Baloney Ponies

In the next few paragraphs, you will note the frequent inclusion of [_] within the text.  This is for my more delicate readers.  Please feel free to insert the expletive of your choosing wherever you see a [_] and just know that the saltier version is exactly how I recount this story in my head.  But my mother and wife read this blog, so I’d never hear the end of it if I let that filth appear nakedly in print.  So insert expletives or don't as you like.  Then take a moment to marvel at how I can make you mentally insert a word you’re not actually even reading.  Try to read past the [_] and see how that works.  The mind is a magnificent mystery.

For a couple weeks every [_] spring, some damnable [_] Woodpecker piece of [_] drums away on my metal [_] chimney cap like it’s his [_] job!  He starts banging at around 6:30 right outside my window!  6:30!  No joke.  What kind of [_]-up mother-[_] has the energy to repeatedly slam his [_] peabrain against a sheet of metal at the ass crack of dawn?  I mean, really!
Photo from

He usually takes a break for a couple hours only to resume his [_] provocation – because that’s exactly what this is; it’s a [_] provocation!  That [_] Woodpecker is calling me out!  He’s [_] mocking me because I’m stuck to the [_] surface of the Earth while he flies [_] circles around my head taunting me and my impotent [_] broom!  

And he’s a wily son of a [_], to boot.  Somehow he knows when my preschooler or my wife (who works nights) lays down for a nap!  He [_] knows!  Every [_] time!  How does he know?  How the [_] do I know?  I just know he knows, the insidious pecker-head!
And here’s the kicker – he also knows that I can’t [_] shout because that would only add to the noise disturbing my family’s sleep.  He just looks down his [_] beak at me like I'm some [_] dancing marionette, whisper-shouting like an idiot.  

So I wave a [_] broom in the air like a [_] trained monkey and toss stones and all he does is flutter to a nearby tree where he’s above it all, that superior [_].  He just waits for me to go back inside then returns to his torture.  Sometimes he doesn’t even bother leaving for a tree when I harass him, he’ll just fly around the other side of the house and hammer away on a downspout or a gutter or some flashing.

I was raised in the suburbs.  As much as I understand some of the costs to society of being so far removed from the sources of our food on the farm, I appreciate the fact that I don't have to butcher my own livestock.  But I tell you, if I could get my hands on that little pecker-head, I would ring his [_] neck like a hardened farmhand and not lose a wink of sleep over it. 

I asked an animal control guy about it one time and he said there’s usually two related reasons a woodpecker knocks on metal – it’s either a territorial display to impress rival males or, most likely this time of year, he’s trying to attract a mate.  Can you believe that [_], he’s driving me ape[_] crazy in order to impress a girl!  It’s just a [_] booty call! 

This [_] pecker has a high hard one and my family gets to suffer his [_] machine-gun serenade until he gets some satisfaction.

My roof is just his hook-up spot.  The expert assured me that, once he gets a little yum-yum, he’ll move along and lose all interest in emasculating me in front of my exhausted family.  Until next spring, that is, when the horny pecker gets another hankering for a honey pot.

So, this morning, I’m cursing and waving my broom around and, naturally, I got to thinking about the space program.  

Did you ever wonder what scientific value there was for shooting men at the moon?  No doubt that it was totally awesome.  That’s undeniable.  But what did we find there that was so vital we needed to do it six times?
There was the space race, of course.  The Soviet Union was eating America’s lunch and we’d had about enough of it.  But there had to be more to it.  The space program is such a noble enterprise – the highest example of mankind’s fundamental drive to shine a light on the dark parts of the map. 

I always assumed the space race was just the cause célèbre that rallied support, but that a greater scientific purpose lie behind the mission.  Kennedy just needed something to inspire the American people and prove to the world that we took a backseat to nobody.  So he looked around, found a bunch of astronomers with a dream but no funding, and tapped them to carry the baton of American exceptionalism awhile.  Right?  Nope. 
Turns out the awesomeness of it was pretty much the whole story.  The scientific value of landing humans on the moon was minimal; certainly nothing that couldn’t be accomplished far more easily, safely, and cost-effectively with probes and robotic rovers.  Whatever scientific value the moon landings did possess was secondary, at best, and completely insufficient to justify the enormous expenditure of financial and intellectual resources.

So why did we go to the moon?  As George Mallory famously answered in response to being asked why climb Mount Everest:

Because it’s there.

In effect, we did it to win a pissing contest.  It was a cockfight.  A territorial display.  Bragging rights.  It was America beating its chest to its rivals and, frankly, to itself.  There are few symbols more phallically fitting than a rocket blasting into space or planting our flag in virgin soil.

Fix bayonets, boys, we’re taking that trench.”  [double-entendre intended]

Photo seen on

This reasoning doesn’t sound particularly noble, but it is distinctly human.  No, that's not right.  It is more than human, it is universal to the sexual fabric of life on Earth. 

A boy will do unpredictable things to impress a girl. 

A man will attempt feats of insanity to prove he’s a man.  

How many great stories begin right there?  How many adventures?  How many wars?

1 comment:

  1. This is the finest blog post you've ever written. Passionate and full of your own personal truth. Fine segue into the space program, too. Good luck with your mother and wife. Your ass is grass.