When Sparrows Play Chicken

I think it’s clear that I am not a taker of risks. I am calculated without a grasp for math and as dangerous as a well-caged hamster.

And the likelihood that I will ever challenge a friend or enemy to a game of chicken to the death is inexcitably low.

I take my glasses off when I get may hair cut. Part of it is the surprise of not seeing the process; just the beginning and the end. The other part is that, with my glasses on, it can be a burden to the person trying to trim around my ears. But no focal aid could have kept me from seeing the feathery flapping blur that was two sparrows speeding through the steaming salon, through the backdoor and up to the drop ceiling—dipping, darting, fleeting—as were the millionths of a second left in the life they knew.

Glass is convenient. It let-ith in light, but in this case, it take-ith life away. The braver of the two sparrows, in a game of chicken that could have no clearer winner, met his demise in a clear but firm end just to the left of the “Men’s Haircuts $10” sign I look for in my tri-weekly trimmings.

And so, as one sparrow lay bereft of life on the well-worn carpet of a sustainably popular hair salon, another twitted and frittered. What began as a dare—a bet of proximity to mortality and temptation of fate, had ended in morbidity for one feathery fellow.

I paused from my hair cut, repositioned my glasses and carried the still living one outside. The not so alive one I took outside as well, but more to remove it from sight than for any ceremonial purpose and to save the female hair dresser from having to touch a dead bird. (Ewwwww!)


Dramatic Interpretation of What Happened

Jimmy: Hey, Kyle! I’ll race you to the Dairy Queen!

Kyle: Whoa oh! You’re on! I’m going to get a Boston Cooler!

[sporadic flight pattern through parking lot and salon]

Kyle: You better slow down, Jimmy. That’s one of those magic walls Old Man Finch told us about.

Jimmy: What are you?! Chicke?!–


Kyle: NOOOO!!!


Some of us take unnecessary risks each day. Some of us take a trip to Dairy Queen each day. Seldom do we do both in a race to the death.

Take your time, friends.

And avoid large windows.

Or, wear a helmet.

The only thing that’s worth doing to the death is living.