When I was a freshman in high school, I had a pretty long walk to school. And I added to my long walk by meeting up with some friends who did not live near me. I had to walk several blocks in the opposite direction of the school in order to join them. I could have met them closer to the school and saved myself the time and extra steps. But I really liked these friends – and I wanted the full distance of their company.
One day on this long walk, as we were walking under some trees near St. Anthony’s Church, a bird shit on my head.
This was not a slight speck of shit. No. This was a ponderous plop of poop.
I was horrified.
So were my friends. All three girls dove into their handbags to come up with as much Kleenex as possible. And they pointed me the right directions to clean it off. They did not touch it themselves, it was too disgusting.
At fifteen, I was not yet as prolific at swearing as I am today, but this occasion called for something extra, so I said, “Holy Shit – that was truly some holy shit coming right from the church and all.”
We all laughed.
We went on to school where I immediately went to the lavatory and stuck my head under the sink, drying my hair with paper towels and knowing that I looked horrible but at least I was clean.
And then I worried.
– I worried that the girls would be laughing at me forever.
– I worried that they would tell everyone and I would be ridiculed by the whole school.
– I worried that all the boys would find out and think I was creepy (I’d seen “The Birds”) and no one would ever ask me out.
– I worried that I would get some terrible disease that is carried by birdshit, and all my hair would fall out.
– I worried that the girls would think it was a bad omen and that I was unlucky and wouldn’t want me to walk with them anymore.
– I worried that if it ever happened again, the girls would be right.
– I worried that my mortification would be so permanent, I would never be able to face my girlfriends again.
– And I worried that the stupid bird KNEW something, That is was a SIGN. That I had deserved to be pooped upon. It was my fault because I was an idiot.
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?
But we do this every day.
We worry about every dumb mistake, every stupid fluke accident. We worry about what people will think of us. Whether our friends really like us. How anyone could like us when we are so stupid.
So what is worse – having the bird shit in your hair or having your hair look lousy because you washed the shit out?
Just fix the birdbrained, birdshit mistakes and don’t worry about it.
Because here is what happened after my birdshit incident:
– My girlfriends only laughed that one time, and maybe once or twice more. After all, a bird shit on my head.
– My friends did not tell the whole school – because although friends might laugh at you, they don’t want anyone else laughing at you.
– Boys found me shy and gawky, but not creepy. And the boys who were shy and gawky themselves dated me once in while.
– I didn’t contract any bird disease and my hair was the same catastrophe after the birdshit catastrophe that it had always been.
– The girls may have thought I was unlucky, but they still walked to school with me, and we walked AROUND that fucking tree.
– It never happened again.
– I stayed friends with those girls. They even thought I was sort of stylish and pretty, especially without birdshit on my head.
– That bird DID know something. It WAS a SIGN.
It was a sign that when shit happens to you, just clean yourself up and get on with the day.