which, like many people, I first heard in the movie Full Metal Jacket (which I just watched again last night):
Except I think the line of soldiers in this particular scene, wisecraking right on cue while the camera crew films steadily along the line is badly written, unbelieveable, and facile. (Sorry Stanley K.)
Back a pretty good while now I became friends with someone over the Internet (it's been known to happen), and when I went to visit her and got off the plane in Philadelphia I saw her and her hair was short and spiky. I said the first thing that came to mind: "you look like a bird" and rubbed her head.
Despite that, we were together for 4-5 years, eventually (she first took a 10-month teaching job in Dubai), first in Tempe, Arizona, where I played around in a creative writing program and first started freelancing, then we did a lot of hiking together -- 350 miles on the Appalachian Trail in 1994 (NJ to Manchester Center, VT) and 1550 miles in 1996 (Georgia to Great Barrington, Mass.) -- then we moved to Winooski, Vermont. Because it was Vermont. It was cold. We broke up the summer after we hiked the AT -- we didn't make it all the way -- I developed a pain (that I still have today) in my left ankle after 550 miles, which mysteriusly flared up suddenly over the course of 3 steps, and after hiking another thousand on a bad foot it got to be too much, physically but especially mentally. By Massachusetts I could no longer lace up my boot for the swelling, and we stepped off the trail at some brewery in Great Barrington, where we drank a lot of beer then slept in our tents in their backyard. We couldn't find the energy to go back.)
On such hikes you talk a lot, often just to keep your mind off the pain (especially pain in the feet), and I still often called her Bird (though others knew us by our trail names: Puddin' and Bronco), but I thought the line in the song went "the bird is a winner," not "the bird is the word," so I was always telling her the Bird is a Winner especially near the end of the day to cheer her up, when both our spirits started to flag from the pain and our feet felt like we were walking on bloody stumps.
And still that's how I hear that song. I really miss hiking the AT, and very much regret I didn't make it all the way to Katahdin. Someday I will probably have to go back and try it again, again starting from the beginning on Springer Mountain in Georgia. That is going to be tough.
|Somewhere atop one of the first southern balds, early April|
|Just before Blacksburg, Virginia (me in upper left; Bird third from left, in back)|
|With Download... somewhere on the AT, resting our feet|