I Have a Pigeon Phobia -- What's Your Biggest Fear?

I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours.
Publish date:
September 21, 2012
fears, i talk about therapy a lot, pigeons, phobias, 1984

Yesterday I was driving my car around San Francisco with the windows down and the sunroof open while listening to really cheesy pop music, as I do. Everything was great until I saw a pigeon swoop overhead at which point I went into full panic mode. Again: As I do.

“Probably because I have the windows down, a pigeon will fly into my car,” I thought. “And then because pigeons are so stupid and scary, it will get stuck in here and will flap its filthy wings all over my face and then I’ll have to jump out of the car to save myself, except I’ll be so terrified, I’ll forget to put the car in park first and then it will crash into a pole and --”

And then I rolled my windows up.

Lest you think I’m totally paranoid, I have been stuck on a MUNI train more thanonce with a pigeon. And because they get on at the first stop, like me, it’s usually JUST me and the pigeon. Which means I’m curled into a ball while the stupid bird click clacks all over the ground looking for food, not even realizing he’s trapped until we get to the next station and the doors open and then all of a sudden he panics and starts flying at which point I usually scream and then everyone’s staring at me and I’m hyperventilating trying to explain to a group of strangers that I’m really, really scared of pigeons. Even though the pigeon is now long gone.

My pigeon phobia is very real. If there’s a large flock of them on the sidewalk, I have to cross the street. I can’t even stomach that terrible heavy breathing cooing noise they make. It gives me instant anxiety. Which was delightful when my bedroom in New York faced a light well in which many many pigeons came to roost. There was pigeon shit all over the outside of my tiny window along with a steady stream of the sound of ruffled feathers. It was complete torture. I basically moved in with the douchebag from Long Island I was dating who took four times as long as I did to get ready and always matched his socks to his outfit. But whatever. There were no pigeons plotting my demise at his place, so it was worth it. Plus he had exposed brick walls! (/sarcasm)

I guess the very worst of my pigeon run-ins was this one that happened a few years ago:

I came home to my 4th floor San Francisco apartment a little tipsy around 10 p.m. I turned on the light in the foyer and went straight to my bedroom. A few minutes later, I walked towards the living room when all of a sudden, I heard wings beating and saw a bird flying down to the floor.

At which point I screamed at the top of my lungs, turned, and ran into my bedroom, slamming the door behind me.

I immediately called my brother who also lives in my building. No answer. I called him again, heart racing. No answer. I stuck my head out of my bedroom window and saw that a light was on in his apartment.

“TODD!” I yelled. “TODD!!!!!!!! HELP!!!!!!!!!!!”

That did it. He stuck his head out of the window.



“OK, I’ll be right up.”

“OK, I’m going to unlock my door, but then I’ll be in my bedroom. I can’t be out there.”

So I ran back out of my bedroom, quickly unlocked the front door, and then ran back to safety.

I heard Todd open the door and turn on the light. “I brought a broom,” he said.

I cracked the door open slightly. “OK. Sorry.”

“DAMMIT,” I heard him say as the broom handle slammed into the wall. “OH FUCK. THERE’S TWO OF THEM.”

At which point I screamed again. And shut my door.

There was another few minutes of grunting and cursing. The sound of many things being knocked into. And then finally my brother called to me. “They’re gone.”

I slowly opened my bedroom door and crept out to the living room. Chairs were knocked over, furniture was moved around, and worst of all: there was pigeon shit. Everywhere.

“Pigeons travel in pairs, you know,” my brother told me.

“No,” I said, as I surveyed the room. “I didn’t know. But now I do.”

I thanked him profusely as he turned to leave, broom in hand. Only later telling me that I’d interrupted him on “a date.” Oops!

Let me just be clear: My apartment was (and nearly always is) immaculate. I didn’t even have any food in the kitchen, like a proper city girl, but it didn’t matter because, for whatever reason, the pigeons stayed confined to the living room. My fatal flaw? Leaving the window open on a warm afternoon. Apparently those assholes saw how clean and inviting everything was and so they just flew on in and got cozy. They perched (and shit) on the Chippendale mirror my mother gave me. They perched (and shit) on my white couch. They perched (and shit) on my coffee table, my side table, my rug, and my cashmere blanket. They perched (and shit) on my soul.

It was traumatizing. My pigeon phobia instantly went from insane to certifiable. And even better, I’m now unwilling to open my windows more than eight inches. But my therapist says I have much bigger issues to tackle and that this doesn’t even make the list. THAT’s how fucked up I am. I have to cross the street if I see a pigeon, but my phobia isn’t even worthy of discussion. Classic Daisy right there, people.

And now it's time for you to hold up your end of the bargain. I showed you mine. Now you have to show me yours. What’s your biggest fear? DISH IT.

(Except maybe share your second biggest fear because I know we’ve all read 1984 and I don’t want you to blame me when Big Brother uses your comment to torture you in Room 101.)

Oh, and follow me on Twitter so you don't miss the next time I live tweet being attacked by pigeons!