Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Gekke Duiven

"They're like flying rats," David comments.
"What type of pigeons eat leaves, anyway?," adds Anouschka.

We sit outside the B&B restaurant for our regular Saturday brunch; omelets on wheat bread - theirs with cheese, mine with bacon. A large group of Italian tourists bike past us on their way to the city center from the Vondelpark. The sky is blue, spotted with a small handful of fluffy white clouds. Sunshine; a rare occurrence these days, and one we're taking full advantage of.

"Dutch ones, obviously. Psychotic Dutch ones," I respond.

Pigeons circle us in the air and on the ground, eager for our food. I shoo one away with my foot. They're not afraid of human contact. Not where we're sitting, not at Dam Square where tourists point their cameras downward instead of towards the Queen's Palace, and especially not on my tree.

Living in the center of Amsterdam, the tree just outside one of my three large windows has become an oasis of green in a desert of asphalt and varying shades of red and black brick buildings. To watch flying vermin destroy what little visual serenity I have leaves me in a craze. I've banged the window and waved my arms wildly to only watch the pigeons look at me as though I'm a mad woman before returning to their meal.

"So when that doesn't work, I grab a glass of water from the kitchen and try splashing them with that," I muse.

It must be senior citizens discount hour at the Holland Casino, because one elderly person after another shuffles past us into the casino's doors on our right.

"Then, one day the Godfather of all pigeons sat on a branch eating the leaves off my tree. I banged, I waved and I even tried splashing water. I swear I saw him look at me and roll his eyes."
Anouschka and David laugh.
"BB Guns aren't legal here are they?," I ask.
"No, sadly," Anouschka replies, "you have to get them in Belgium or some other country."

We stand to leave, exchanging hugs instead of the traditional Dutch three-kiss greeting, as they like the American way better than their own. I watch them walk towards the Stadhouderskade canal where they left their bikes, and then turn the opposite direction. I walk through the pigeon studded Max Eeuwenplein and glance at a group of people clustered around the square's large chess set. But I don't stop. I'm on a mission. I cross the street to Leidseplein, squeezing my way through hoards of tourists watching hip-hopping street performers. My pace quickens. Trams ring their bells at pedestrians walking too close to the tracks on Leidsestraat's narrow shopping street. Then, I see it. The neon "Intertoys" sign shining even in the daylight. Upon entering, my eyes zero in on exactly what I had set out to buy: a high-powered water gun. Let's see if any pigeon rolls its eyes at me now!

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