Columns » Bob Lancaster

Evicting geese


Goose image

It's hard to reason with geese, and just about impossible to get them to take a hint. You try to make them feel unwelcome, and either they will or they won't, depending on the dim algorithms that animate geese.

You can't tell them to go do unto themselves what Veep Dick told Sen. Leahy to go and do unto himself — it will roll right off their backs because it is characteristic of their genus that they simply won't be insulted. They hear disparaging comments by other species as appreciative of them, even flattering, and are likely to go into a preen. They think the world sees perfection in them as the duck-stamp painters do. It's simply beyond their capacity to think that a city councilman talking about a "nuisance species" might be talking about them.

Whether this self-deceit is the result of a conscious decision by some wise old goose of the past, a goose Confucius or goose Solomon, we don't know. But there's nothing in the ordinary goose weltanschauung, such as it is, to suggest as much. They simply seem to have found their Happy Place in the rather large zone beneath contempt, and see no reason to venture up out of it into the meaner realm where despair and self-consciousness and snapping turtles lurk.

Some of them like it wherever they happen to be so well that they've quit migrating — or forgot their obligation to do it, now that the glaciers are in full yearlong retreat. They just hang where it suits them, dookeying up their whereabouts as only geese can, not even wondering about what might happen next. There's even something endearing, or almost endearing but not quite, in their insouciance.

You'll perceive that I'm making here an ontological appeal for a local resident gaggle. That's a fact. A knot of them have homesteaded a small portion of Burns Park in North Little Rock, putting down roots there under some anserine statute that no human has ever seen or could make heads nor tails of if it were made manifest.

Even if there were a way for us to understand their lazy hazy crazy territorial claim, this flock of Canada geese would have no standing in our courts, and would find no jurisprudential sympathy or pity. And unless someone comes forward with a plan to humanely relocate the flock, the Polizei will be on them like they're Occupy Wall Street junebugs, batoning them senseless and bejugging them with pepper spray, whomping with particular animus the oldest old-timers of the bunch and the disabled combat vets — after which the whole lot of them will be lined up before a firing squat and shot.

A select group of fearless "hunters" will do those honors.

Our little gypsy goose troupe won't be saved from this ad hoc trigger-happy nimroddery unless we somehow get it through their mostly empty skulls that the naked apes who run things now do things different, in ways that facilitate apeness but not necessarily gooseness.

For instance, they have strict rules against trespass that supplant the age-old notion of free range; you can only loiter where the anthropoids say you can. And you have to justify your presence practically anywhere by showing your papers — papers proving you have visible means of support — whenever they're demanded of you. In short, lacking a sinecure, an inheritance, or a high-dollar lottery ticket that's a certified winner, you have to get and hold a job. Even if you're a goose.

Jobs are scarce these days. Nabbing a fulfilling one, one that you like, is just about out of the question. Just a gainful one — i.e., a crappy one — is a long shot. Prospects are especially daunting for non-human job seekers. But not insuperable.

The Peabody ducks found steady work as flophouse mascots soon to star in their own reality-TV show. Thoroughbred horses find semi-celebrity seasonal employ at Oaklawn Park, and it pays well even if it does entail occasional brisk cropping by little bitty clown-dressed men. We have about a hundred Arkansas seeing-eye dogs working long shifts for subsistence wages, and donkeys who'll play exhibition basketball or lend calm background authenticity to manger scenes. We have maybe a million cats who'll demouse your premises if you'll act like you don't want them to. And at least that many pea-brain turkeys who know that if a Mark Darr can nab himself a good job with ritzy benefits and no responsibilities, then it shouldn't be too much of a challenge for a goose.

After some mulling I've come up with one possibility for our geese.

Draft them to fly as an honor guard for the Little Rock Airport Commission as those worthies leave for or return from one of their regularly scheduled luncheon meetings on the Rue de Haut Porc in Paris, France.

All bets are off, of course, if Newt Gingrich manages to slither into La Casa Blanca after next year. Then all the jobs will be filled by 10-year-old human children, whether the 10-year-old children want to fill them or not. Call them apprentices and they don't have to be paid. Give them a whupping if they ask for seconds on the gruel.

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