For some reason today, I have seagulls on the brain. Western gulls, specifically, the natty little grey and white ones with the beady eyes and predatory beaks.
I have an uneasy relationship with seagulls. I think that most people who grew up close to the ocean do, since those birds can be surprisingly…vicious. They also run in packs, which makes them much scarier, especially when you are a smallish person. And they have extremely long memories; they still, for example, take a chance to poop on me whenever possible in vengeance for the wasabi incident.
One of my earliest memories, in fact, is of feeding seagulls paper cups filled with condiments at the Sea Pal, which used to make the most amazing fish and chips. The birds would swallow the paper cups whole in one gulp, snapping them up like flies. My father and always thought that this was rather entertaining. We used to eat outside, watching the seals in the harbor and noting that the seagulls were constantly up to no good. I remember at one point my father and I were nibbling on our fish and chips when a huge group of tourists ordered a bunch of food and then wandered off, leaving their grandmother at the table. The ever-helpful staff delivered all the food while the family was still rambling around, taking in the oh-so-delightful sights of the harbor, and the seagulls took about twenty seconds to descend.
Grandma didn’t stand a chance. Those birds were all over that table, and the huge pile of food had been decimated in mere minutes. When the family kind of made it back to the table, my father and I were quietly chuckling while the shell shocked grandmother tried to explain what had happened. The table was littered in bird poop, while shreds of wrappers, condiment cups, and napkins adorned grandmother, the benches, and the neighboring tables.
I don’t know why this memory endures so strongly in my head. I think it’s because it combines my loathing for tourists with my fondness for the Sea Pal. I asked my father about this event a few days ago, and I was pleased to see that he remembered it, as well. And, I’m happy to note, our expressions of glee at describing the complete destruction of a table full of food are more or less identical.
Perhaps we both lived past lives as seagulls?