Ruffled feathers.

When it comes to love, everyone wants to make ridiculous comparisons to the animal world. Someone’s always pointing out that any old wolf is a better husband than Donald Trump, that gorillas raise their young with more loving attention than the average lawyer, that the sex life of a hermaphroditic slug is really something incredibly hot.

True, the glimpses I’ve gotten of animal id invite more. My sister-in-law had a parakeet that masturbated tirelessly on a stick in its cage. Equine congress, while brief (seven thrusts and a stallion is done, something to remember the next time someone calls you one), at least has the fillip of violence — mares will kick the crap out of suitors, who pay the ladies back by biting their necks when finally “in the saddle,” so to speak.

Just the other day, I came across the charming springtime ritual of goose love. At first I thought an unfortunate bird was snared on some fishing line at the lake’s edge, but no, as I drew closer on my bike, I saw that all the wing-beating was between two birds, not one, and had the unmistakable flavor of a boudoir encounter. What was interesting was the related action: As the gander finally had his way with the goose, he climbed atop her back, nearly drowning her in the process. Her head was just above water, and he held her neck in his bill — yes, just like Yeats described. (And yes, Yeats was writing about a swan, not a goose, but that seems a minor taxonomic quibble, all things considered.)

But! The hot goose-on-goose action drew an audience! Two others glided up to watch, honking excitedly at the peep show. When the male released the female, they continued to honk, and then the male started honking at the female. She swam off, him at her side, not cooing at her tenderly or smoothing her ruffled feathers, but honk-honk-honking in crude triumph: “You’re mine now!”

It was so disturbing I had to consult Stokes when I got home. According to “A Guide to Bird Behavior, Vol. 1,” they both should have been doing the postcoital Head-Up display. On the other hand, those geese are now mated for life. Which is more than you can say about Donald Trump, certainly.

By the way, the encounter didn’t last long, another seven-stroker, I’d say. Sex is pretty perfunctory when you’re a prey animal; did you know that? Copulation = vulnerability. All the good sex — or at least the longer-lasting sex — happens between predators, despite what those rabbits say. Ask any cat.

In action that had absolutely nothing to do with the aforementioned activity, Alan and I had a rare and unexpected bit of free babysitting Saturday, which came too late to do anything requiring planning but early enough to get the hell out of the house. I wanted ethnic food, and I wanted it someplace other than the east side, which meant we went, rather impulsively, to Greektown, the D’s tourist trap. Yes, I had the saganaki; when in Greektown, do as the tourists do, and there’s always the chance for some real fun when flaming brandy is involved. Ours flared up with nothing more remarkable than the usual “Opa!” It was good, though.

Of course you can’t go to Greektown without a casino stop. I was feeling lucky enough to play some blackjack, but the place was crowded and smoky and loud as hell with all those hideous slot machines. The only tables with any open spaces were the $25 minimums, and no thanks. Craps tempted me, but only until I looked at the table and realized, I have no idea how to play this. I mean, not a clue, other than to step up and say, “Eight the hard way,” the way Philip Baker Hall does. And I would probably lose.

Is there a greater disconnect between the movies and reality than in its depiction of gambling? I go into a casino, I’m expecting James Bond or, at the very least, George Clooney. Reality is some old lady with extra-long cigarettes or maybe an oxygen tank, grimly pouring the month’s Social Security check, quarter by quarter, into the slots. You don’t even have to pull the handle anymore. That’s just wrong.

That said, I always had a hankering to be a blackjack dealer. I love that thing they do with their hands when they go on break. The world is short of stylish gestures, and that’s one of them.

Sunday bloggage? Lots of possibilities, but I’m too lazy to look for them now. Read your own papers once in a while.

Posted at 5:26 pm in Uncategorized |

17 responses to “Ruffled feathers.”

  1. Bill Peschel said on April 17, 2005 at 6:31 pm

    A curiosity visit to Dover Downs was depressing in a similar way. When I was drinking in Baltimore, the poker slots gave the impression of skill by letting you discard cards and pick new ones. These new machines don’t. Press the button, you win or lose.

    There was one section roped off with about a dozen machines inside. One of the employees led in some members of the white-haired gang who, at a signal, began furiously pawing at the machines, all racing to attain the highest total before the time ran out. If B.F. Skinner were alive today, he wouldn’t need the expense of white mice and food pellets.

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  2. brian stouder said on April 17, 2005 at 10:08 pm

    The closest I ever came to doing the casino thing was years ago in St Louis. Pam and I ventured onto a riverboar casino on a ‘curiosity visit’ (to use Bill’s apt term!) – and we walked down a long corridor (much like a cattle chute) that had big pictures of various people with no teeth who had won $47,000, or $62,000, or whatever other big amount.

    Then, we got into a sort of ante room – with shiney new cars above the slot machines, and then a rope line leading up to a closed set of doors….behind which was presumeably the “real” casino.

    Apparently the doors to that inner sanctum don’t open ’til some set time – which was 20 minutes away….but I saw a restaurant, and we ventured over to it, only to be told that they wouldn’t seat people until the casino was opened. (looking back on it, I suppose if I’d have tipped the hostess, they might have seated us)

    Anyway – at that point we felt very much out of our element (like Clark Griswold in a biker bar) and we scrubbed the mission and headed for the exits. All in all, unimpressive.

    As far as Nancy’s sex talk – Saturday evening the young folks and Pam and I went to Franke Park’s playground, and witnessed an almost comically over-the-top (in every sense of the words!) Public Display of Affection on the grass near the road!

    The funny part was that when the pair tired of whatever they were doing, the woman headed for the restroom and looked to be fully 7-8 months pregnant!

    Go figure…..

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  3. Jeff said on April 17, 2005 at 11:25 pm

    Sunday . . . churches . . . newspapers . . . if you are even remotely intrigued by those two in tandem:

    . . . and James Bond always seemed to gamble at some kind of private club deal, but i could never figure out how he (poorly paid civil servant) got in, and my Fleming set of 60’s paperbacks still isn’t out of packing boxes: anybody recall?

    Pax, Jeff

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  4. basset said on April 18, 2005 at 12:59 am

    didn’t M recommend him?

    I can just see James in the Aston, doing one of his “rally-class” drives to someplace like Lawrenceburg and dueling with SMERSH’s villains on the riverboat. maybe a chase scene out in the parking lot, ducking down behind pickups and minivans to fire his PPK at the bad guys.

    our own casino experience was in New Orleans, down at the foot of Canal Street. everyone my wife works with had given her a handful of quarters to throw in the slot machines for them, and she had a supply of her own, been saving them up for weeks.

    took maybe fifteen minutes to chunk them all into various machines, pee, and leave.

    whatever the appeal of casinos might be, I don’t get it.

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  5. ashley said on April 18, 2005 at 5:11 am


    What can a goose do that a duck can’t that a lawyer should?

    Stick its bill up its ass.

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  6. John said on April 18, 2005 at 7:55 am

    I’m five minutes from the Mohegan Sun, fifteen from Foxwoods. The cheap entertainment can be fun (Micky Dolenz belting out “The Last Train To Clarksville” in the no cover area), but the watching the huddled masses is too depressing. The blue hairs are there in force, packing their oxygen along with the laundry quarters. The rust bucket car brigade are also big players. Mix them all together with the Asian population of the northeast and you get a glimpse of what casino gambling really is.

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  7. Michael G said on April 18, 2005 at 8:57 am

    Had some rabbits one time. The stud, Don Rafael, would mount the lucky one, give her about a dozen blurred strokes in two seconds then suddenly and dramatically fall over on his side. I’d just about fall over laughing. It was the funniest sight . . .

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  8. 4dbirds said on April 18, 2005 at 9:13 am

    Just got back from a week in Vegas. We lounged besides the MGM Grand pool, hiked Red Rock Canyon, saw an Elvis impersonator in a karaoke bar, encountered numerous brides and one Pete Rose hawking his autograph on the strip. Finally had an In N Out Burger to see what the fuss is all about, ate too much at too many buffets and walked our tooties off. Didn’t put a single coin in a machine but I did come home 65 dollars richer from playing poker.

    I think people play the slots because they truly think they’re going to win big. That’s why they ‘hate’ the estate tax. Hope springs eternal.

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  9. Danny said on April 18, 2005 at 10:54 am

    Michael, THAT is hilarious!

    4dbirds, what did you think of In-N-Out? It’s better if you are hungry. Hopefully you brought your appetite. My wife typically gets a craving for a burger from there about 4 or 5 times a year. Me, I’d rather grill at home or go to some place that has frosty mugs of beer to go with.

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  10. 4dbirds said on April 18, 2005 at 11:09 am


    In-N-Out burgers were good. The onions were harsh but can’t fault the burger. Had mine with a shake since I was never much for beer. Certainly better than 5 Guys burgers here in the DC area.

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  11. Michael G said on April 18, 2005 at 11:17 am

    In-N-Out burgers are the best of the fast food burgers by a mile. Their fries are the best as well. They also run a very smart operation. I don’t think it’s fair to compare them to a burger in a real restaurant with beer and/or wine and a menu. There are local places here in Auburn that have better burgers than In-N-Out but In-N-Out has to be the leader in its category.

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  12. Michael G said on April 18, 2005 at 11:20 am

    In-N-Out burgers are the best of the fast food burgers by a mile. Their fries are the best as well. They also run a very smart operation. I don’t think it’s fair to compare them to a burger in a real restaurant with beer and/or wine and a menu. There are local places here in Auburn that have better burgers than In-N-Out but In-N-Out has to be the leader in its category.

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  13. Danny said on April 18, 2005 at 11:43 am

    Michael, true. I’m just saying that if I am going to do the burger thing, I prefer a little more ambiance.

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  14. ashley said on April 18, 2005 at 1:43 pm

    NO NO NO!

    If you’re gonna do the IN-N-Out thing, don’t order onions…order GRILLED onions on your double-double, and they won’t be harsh at all.

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  15. Miss Beth said on April 18, 2005 at 1:53 pm

    I’m one of those people that lives for her yearly trip to Las Vegas. It’s sick on so many levels and yes, it can be depressing, but it’s just about the most fun I have all year. The kicker? I’m not even sure what the hell makes it so fun. I’m a librarian the rest of the year; when I stroll into Treasure Island, I am someone else. Now, to be fair, I’m not a “typical” librarian, but who’s a typical anything anymore? But back to Sin City. I love it with a love that is entirely un-Christian. It’s loud, obnoxious, tacky…ooh, wait. I think I just made the connection.

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  16. Danny said on April 18, 2005 at 2:56 pm

    For the record, I like my onions raw and strong. Robin likes ’em grilled. I know you all were wonderin’.

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  17. carmella said on April 19, 2005 at 8:48 am

    J’adore Steak & Shake cheeseburgers. All the men in my family do NOT like them for the same reason I do…they are paper thin!! Their sippable sundaes are great…but the fries…well, I eat them and all, but…they need more substance.

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