Offing the Gooseby Brandon Edmonds / 25.05.2012
I’m extremely jealous about an Egyptian goose new to my Muizenberg neighborhood – and I honestly want to kill it. Dead. For 2 reasons. They’re both very selfish.
The main reason I want to off the goose is he wakes me around 7am with his honking. This is one honky goose. Everyone knows that while office drones are already in their pre-wake up phase, light-sleepers in an anxious pocket of snooze before the day must truly begin, 7am is primo slumber time for a freelance writer. That’s the good stuff. The deep restorative span of oblivion that recharges you. Blissfully adrift on a sticky ocean of spilled black treacle sleep.
Besides, it’s only four to five hours after the hit-the-hay point when I finally yank the adsl cable (wifi here is irksomely shit) from its socket after yet another wasted night ‘surfing’ as the kids used to say. (Though surfing is far too fleet and boosterish a term for something that just feels like chores that don’t really need doing – by now.) So being wrenched awake that early feels like a violation. The wrongness of it makes me seethe with revenge fantasies. I imagine the goose exploding, or imploding, in slow-motion in high-def like a perversely inverted nature documentary. I imagine reaching into the cloaca and ripping it’s insides out through it’s own asshole.
Incensed recently by the injury to sleep, I searched through the house for something to throw, to attack with, running mentally through glassware, bowls, silverware, juicer fittings, fruit, matchboxes, lighters, golf balls (sadly elusive), batteries, nails, slops, books and cushions. If only I’d had a slingshot, a katty, I could have 86’d the waterfowl. I could have sent it back to the Pharaohs. In the end, in order, I threw an apple, a battery and a banana. He barely noticed.
My goose has a promontory, a chimney, directly across from my bedroom window. It’s a great spot to survey his territory and police predators. The offending goose and his mate are often up there playing the hits. There’s the riled squawk for hawk sightings. The throat-straining honk stream signaling either glee or a red alert? The bleat, the cough, the protest. There’s the car-engine-starting honk, the blue Monday blurt, the caterwaul, the fracas, the marching band. Geese are sonic terrorists. They don’t have fangs or speed or venom. They have voices. They keep harm at bay by being loud. Ugly loud. American tourist loud. Geese are genetically encoded to rupture tranquility. It isn’t malice. They do it to protect their babies. We’re in mating season right now, it’ll end around late May, and I’m not sure I can wait until then. It’s become personal. I want to cook the fucking geese’s goose.
Rowdy Egyptian geese began showing up in this country shortly after the Boer War amidst new dam-building projects and sustained British attempts at infrastructure. It’s as if they smelled the water in Cairo and headed South. Today, they have few predators and are just about everywhere biggish bodies of water occur; coastlands, wetlands, tributaries and deltas. The geese are a particular problem on manicured high-end golf estates – which is the only thing I like about them by far!
Shooting, poison and dogs are ultimately ineffectual. Killing the goose simply opens their territory to an even noisier battle between contenders keen to move in. Geese even intimidate dogs who are sensitive to sound. Hawks, ospreys and mongooses are needed. Snakes to eat the eggs. That takes slow, balanced indigenous flora buildup in estuaries and lakesides. It takes a healthy ecosystem. The ubiquity of Egyptian geese, the ultimate immigrants, reflects a broken system, a faltering of the natural order. The geese are a sign of the breakdown of natural checks and balances in the face of urbanization. Knowing this doesn’t soften my heart. I still want him dead. Very dead.
The other reason I want him dead is the fierce commitment of his relationship on vulgar display. Every honk is an act of devotion. He would die for his mate and the kids. What they have is intense. They are unafraid to parade their love. The pairing often rubs each other’s neck. They entwine. It’s obvious they’re into each other and they’re not afraid to show it. Their union is very public and combative and energetic from where I sit in my bedroom across the way. My geese are admirable.
They know what matters in life. Love and family and the happiness that comes from sharing mutual goals, synchronizing priorities, working hard, and honouring each other with constancy and trust.
The irony is I have a new relationship myself. It began in spring at the same time the geese probably found each other across a crowded pond. She has made it very clear this is a dalliance. A bit of fun. She is, she tells me, a ‘serial monogamist’. Someone always in a relationship. After years of committing then getting cheated on or dumped, she’s understandably done with that for a while. She wants to fool around and see how new bedrooms look in the morning. She wants to canoodle with strange bodies, to let her hair down and keep a toothbrush and a change of panties in her purse.
The question becomes: how to keep it casual when feelings deepen? It is a question the noisome geese have bypassed. They are a unit, a pair, an exclusive couple. And their unity annoys me. Every honk is commentary on my own loose bond. My own open relationship. That is why the goose must die. His love songs make me sad.