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SF gives LA the bird (fever)

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That's right, we met a sick seagull in San Francisco last week...now don't freak out, it's pro'lly just the old bird cold...

Given all our paranoia about the bird flu, it seems like something should have registered. True, the drinks were strong; it was a bright sunny afternoon, we were sitting on the roof of Macy's in San Francisco, at the Cheescake factory (yes, yes, we know), overlooking the calm pedestrian traffic of Union Square. They brought us bread; our brother had a vodka cranberry. Three rather large vodka cranberries, actually. We were on the Beam, at the start of what would turn out to be a long, wasted afternoon.

And right there at the edge of sky and roofline, just beyond the plexiglass barrier, this majestic-looking seagull was strutting back and forth, ogling the diners, keeping several mutilated and mangy-looking pigeons at bay. The seagull was all by herself, clean, fluttering white feathers, fresh from the Pacific. She wasn't really doing anything, just watching people. She came over and looked at us, and we looked back. She stared for a long time as we ate, drank and smoked. She was close to us; closer to either of us than we were to one another, in fact; tapping on the plexiglass brought our fingers virtually into contact with her fearless orange beak.

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We liked her eyes; they were this shocking blue, weeping almost; yes, they seemed to be filled with tears. And ringed with the same bright orange as her bill and her odd dinosaur feet.

She was hungry. Our brother was handing her pieces of bread through the small slot in the plexiglass. As she wrestled with one of them, it fell back into his tumbler of booze. He lifted it up and handed it back to her, then casually drank from the tumbler. We stared at him in astonishment; our brother is terribly paranoid about germs.

"What are you doing?" we asked.
"What?"
"It was in the bird's mouth."
"No it wasn't."
"There was contact."
"There was no contact!"

The bird watched us serenely. Every so often, she shook her head, and there was a fine mist flying off her beak; a sort of clear spray that was dewing up on the glass. We watched her more closely; we could see through one nostril and out the other, straight across to the buildings on the other side of Union Square. Then, seemingly, she got wise, and started sticking her beak through the narrow slot in the plexiglass. We acted like we were ignoring her. Some tattooed girls at the next table over were snapping pictures with their telephones. Looking at the yellow beak that was aimed over our table, we saw a glistening drop of bird snot go dripping down from the hard, seed-shaped nostril. After begging awhile longer to no avail, the bird walked away.

Really, amazingly even, we thought absolutely nothing of it. Bird with a runny nose; who ever heard of that?

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Fast forward to LA, three days later, when the fever hit; coughing our lungs out; chills and headaches. After three days pounding antibiotics and chicken soup, slowly getting better, we're convinced we actually only had Psittacosis, rather than the actual bird flu. Still, it's ironic. There we were, on vacation, just trying to get away from the Fear for awhile...and the one sick bird in North America landed right next to us. You can't run from destiny, we guess.

Oh, and while we're on the subject, has anyone seen any of those crazy pelicans crashing into things down in Laguna?