© 2010 Leighann Lord
The extreme weather – record snowfalls, wild winds, biblical rains – has caused a lot of property damage around the country. Watching news accounts of flooded basements, downed trees and demolished roofs have made me feel very lucky to have emerged virtually unscathed unless you count the pterodactyl in my dryer.
I have an old two-stack washer and dryer. When I use it on windy days, I can hear the exterior exhaust flap flipping rapidly open and closed. It took quite a beating this winter. About a week ago instead of flapping, I heard the very loud and close by chirping of birds.
A recent storm had torn away one of the exterior dryer exhaust flaps, leaving an opening big enough for a bird to fly in, one did and brought friends. It sounded like they were literally turning my dryer duct into Birdland.
Birds had built a nest once in the tree outside my bedroom window. At 4:30 a.m. every morning the newly hatched baby birds would wake me up with their "I'm hungry" serenade. This would have been fine if I too had been ready to rise for the day, but I'm a comedian. I work at night. It seems like the minute I laid head to pillow, the babes would begin their crooning. For weeks I was jolted awake and lay there with murder on my mind, counting quail recipes to get back to sleep.
Eventually the birds grew up and flew away and I literally felt the pang of the empty nest syndrome. I missed my morning tweeters. I wondered how they were getting on in the world. Were they dating and making nests of their own, their offspring singing outside some other comedian’s window? While I had learned to live with the birds outside, hearing them sound like they were partying in my dryer was too much.
I thought I could fix the problem by banging on the dryer or turning it on to scare them away, but they would just return when the noise stopped. The chirping growing louder and closer. I feared it was only a matter of time before I opened my dryer door and a pterodactyl flew out like a scene out of an Alfred-Hitchcock-meets-Michael-Crichton movie.
Finally putting my years of watching the Discover Channel to good use, I had the bright idea to scare off the birds with a natural predator. My squeamish feline friends, however, were reluctant to lend me their cat. "Yes, I'm putting him in the dryer, but I'm not closing the door or turning it on. I just want Mr. Shenanigans to ‘meow’ in the direction of the vent. Hello? Hello?"
My Husband took a more militant approach. He opened the window, fired up the oven and began roasting a 10-pound turkey. The plan? "Maybe the birds will smell me cooking their friend and get the hint to move on," he said.
We may be in the burbs, but these are New York City birds accustomed to the vagaries of urban living. They weren't giving up their hole in the wall without a fight.
It was time to get professional help. I had to call A Guy. For most things My Guy is My Dad, but he's at the age where he shouldn't be involved in any home repair projects that call for a two-story ladder. Luckily, My Guy had A Guy.
He cleaned out the duct (no nest, just empty beer bottles and cigarette butts), repaired the flap, and I can now use my dryer again without fear of a pterodactyl attack. But, of course, with a house there’s always something, and so now I need an Ant Guy. I hope they’re not in league with the birds. My Husband is scouring cook books to see what recipes might scare the ants away. Baked Grass Hopper.