Wild Kingdom

I like guns. You got a gun, you don't have to work out. -Chris Rock

One thing I can say about my job? Never a dull moment. More true than usual in the last week though.

Last night, I was working late, standing out by the copier chatting with our art director when I look up and see this Chow running loose (but wearing a collar, making my odds at a rescue at least 50-50).

I (naturally) go running out into traffic to try to keep him from meeting a messy fate.

I should also mention that I'm wearing a little retro, tobacco-colored AnnTaylor dress, pearls, and three-inch faux-pony Hypes (a type of shoe, for male readers).

(The story's OK if you DON'T know what I was wearing, but I think the ensuing antics make more sense if you've got an image you can work with.)

At some point, it occurs to me that this is not safe or responsible behavior.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE our neighborhood, but we have had the occasional.... encounter with its seemier side. Enough to know not to be stupid, you'd think.

I am NOT in the bulletproof truck. I do not have my Kate Spade bag filled with the heavy artillery. (And the shoulder-mount rocket-launcher with the faux-fur triggerlock is still on back order; I guess it's what ALL the fashionable terrorists are carrying this year.)

I am as defenseless as a person with my temperament can ever be. And this is around the time I start getting a LOT of heavy commentary from 1. guys in lowriders; 2. guys listening to rap music with blacked out windows (I couldn't catch all the lyrics, but I think they went something like this: "@#$% #@$% %$!! #$%&"): 3. drunks shuffling past (because it WAS cocktail hour), and 4. rednecks with Confederate flags in their trucks.

At almost all times, I am within sight of our building and the A.D. - but I somehow dimly realize it would take all of 4.3 seconds for any one of these guys to drag me into a car and flee the jurisdiction. (Plus I can see Jim's already got his hands full with the schizophrenic who's screaming into the imaginary cellphone. He's probably going to be of limited assistance. Also, he's a pacifist.)

I imagine him waving as we drive away, "Have her back by 8 in the morning! She's got a deadline!!"

I wonder briefly if I really have what it takes to slip off my sandal, plunge the heel into a guy's eye socket, withdraw it, slip it back on, and continue on my canine rescue mission of mercy without breaking stride. (I decide I do.)

Then I wonder where the hooker is who usually cruises the nearby bustop? I wonder if she'll think maybe I'm crowding her corner? And I'm wondering if Jim will mind if we add "pimp" to his job description, if it means he has to resolve turf war disputes.

(Later, his staff comes up with the appropriate pseudonym, should we decide to expand our "community mission" -ShamBooty.)

Ultimately, I gave up the chase, recognizing 1. its futility, and 2. an incipient cramp in my left thigh.

I'm tired. I'm hot. I'm sweaty. I'm despondent - because I haven't even achieved my goal which was to get the dog back to his owner (who is PROBABLY a drug dealer, not that I'm stereotyping).

ShamBooty locks up the front and leaves, and I head to the back of the building to burn a little more midnight oil. As I climb the stairs, I hear a commotion from the west wing.

Of course the place is deserted. The security system is off. And the building has been unlocked the entire time I've been on the dog chase.

Naturally, I do what they do in EVERY horror movie - which is to stride forth and recklessly OPEN the door to my office.

The source of the ruckus? (Ominous music would be good here.)

A roomful of BIRDS.

STRAIGHT out of Hitchcock.

I was, as you might guess, taken aback (i.e., I slammed the door, screamed, and went running up and down the halls EXACTLY like a cartoon character).

Of course my cellphone was trapped in my office (with the birds) - containing the Speed Dials of anyone I might plausibly ask to come to my rescue - and I wasn't really thinking coherently enough to master a phonebook (plus most of my friends are unlisted).

So I just (very sanely) decide to go door to door, up and down our street until I could find someone who'd help me.

That didn't go too well. Probably, (and here I'm guessing), because I'm imagining people heard me screaming and banging on their doors with both fists, and quickly and logically decided they wanted NO part of whatever was on the other side of THAT. ("Sell crazy somewhere else Sister," is most likely what they were thinking.)

Luckily, our neighbor (and good Samaritan), the appropriately named Carleton Wing was A. home, and B. willing to answer the door. Not only that, he was COMPLETELY nonplussed. Almost as if Tippi Hedrin pounds his door down everyday.

He told Ginger (his dog) he'd be right back. He walked into my office (whereupon I dramatically slammed the door and braced myself against it - as if he was going to TRY to escape, like in Young Frankenstein), and within minutes, had it calmly and peacefully cleared of all wildlife. I was imagining a scene right out of Snow White.

The staff has been busy speculating all day how I COULD have otherwise resolved this scenario (if Carleton hadn't been home), the most popular being the one where I SHOT the birds.

After dispatching them, I would've paged Gary (we call him the Wolf, but he's really our cleaning guy) whose first question would've been, "what time's your staff gettin' there? 30 minutes? Be there in 7," as we cut to a shot of him squealing up out front on two tires.

The next thing I could picture is him and his crew patiently cleaning all the gore off my walls, rolling their eyes, and musing aloud, with their usual long-suffering sighs of goodnatured resignation, "I'm not EVEN gonna ask how THIS happened."

The fact that this little ornithology episode has, thus far, been the BEST part of my week, should convey, in some way, the intricacy of how tangled my life feels these days. Suffice to say, I guess I'm ready for whatever's next. Plague of locusts? Frogs falling from the sky? Stigmata?

Bring it on.