The post-coital noise level next door drove me to seek solace at the waterfront, feeding several partial loaves of bread to seagulls and pigeons.
I was happily ensconced in seagull heaven when two young girls of about 12 and 15 came up to me and ordered me to stop feeding the seagulls.
ORDERED ME TO STOP.
"Why?" I asked as I pitched a really sweet long shot at a gull who swooped and snatched it on the upswing.
"They become aggressive," they said. I kept flinging large crumbs to my winged friends.
These girls, who were both bigger than I, were standing much too close to me. The older one grabbed my bag of bread, and I realized that they were serious.
She flung it over the seawall and I caught it just in time, nearly taking flight myself onto the boulders in the water below.
"Go," I told them tersely. "What gives you the right to take something from a person you don't even know?"
They chanted in unison, "You shouldn't feed seagulls. They become aggressive. It's bad to feed seagulls. BAD PEOPLE feed seagulls."
I kept throwing out my bread. There were about 40 gulls and half as many pigeons surrounding me. I was their holy grail.
"STOP FEEDING THE SEAGULLS!!" they shouted. "STOP NOW!"
"Sorry, girls, I like feeding them," I said.
They kept telling me that I was a bad person, that seagulls became aggressive, at which point, the birds, whipped into a feeding frenzy, beat their wings and screeched for my attention.
Aggressive? I would prefer "hopeful." Or even "forceful."
I love seagulls.
The younger girl began running around the seawall, yelling "Shoo!" at the birds. I asked her to stop. She smugly screamed her "too aggressive" litany. These girls were clearly brainwashed. They had the fervor of religious zealots. Bornagain bird haters. The Anti-Gull.
I had never seen anything like it.
They were practically foaming at the mouth. I considered whether I had ever had a rabies shot in case they bit me.
They kept chasing my birds away. I told them, "You don't have to feed them, but don't spoil it for those who do."
"Why do you feed them?" the older girl asked.
"Because I like to."
"You're a really bad person," she said.
Then the Mother
"They're so BIG," she exclaimed. "Biggest seagulls I've ever seen."
"Because she's been feeding them all day," sneered the younger girl venomously.
The mother also scolded me and assured me that she had seen seagulls so aggressive that they took bread right out of people's hands. Kind of like her daughters.
"Thank you for your advice," I told her, still tossing crumbs. I had lots of bread and I intended to use it.
"I'm a sailor so I know what I'm talking about," she said as she swaggered away. She gave me one last scathing look of disgust.
I'm still trying to reconcile their apparent fear of aggression with their own aggressiveness. I cannot imagine why these people thought it acceptable to criticize and insult a perfect stranger and if I were not a big fan of St. Francis of Assisi, I would have directed my friends to poop on their heads and peck their eyes out.