Pet Peeves


Seagull Gall

By Mark Crantz
By Mark Crantz

I’m here live at Madison Square and Garden standing on an olive branch with Jonathan Livingston Seagull. “Jonathan, I couldn’t help but notice that the venue seems smaller than I imagined. This is the home of the Knicks, right?”

“Yes, that’s right. That’s spelled N-i-c-k-s,” explains Jonathan.

“Oh, I believe I’ve been spelling it wrong all these years,” I answered. “Well, I’m a great speller. I was National Spelling Bee champion in 1963, ’64, ’65, and ’66. I have an undergraduate degree in library science and a graduate degree in phonics from Kornell University. My thesis was entitled “Y Johnny Kan’t Reed.”

“Wow, great accomplishments. But let me get right to it,” I suggest. “Some folks claim that you made all of it up. Did you?”

“I refuse to grovel over literary scraps with the flock. There’s more to life than fighting over minutiae. I’m running for City Council and will teach residents how to soar to new heights. The other gulls are trying to distract voters with earthbound issues. When I’m elected, residents will learn to fly over the village entrance, full parking spaces, and view blocking foliage. Trust me. There’s more to life than trying to make tourists happy all the time. A vote for me will be taking a flight of pure fantasy, where you can be anybody you want to be. Residents will no longer feel chained to gravity tugging social conventions,” beamed Seagull.

I was intrigued, but not yet persuaded. I asked, “I’m afraid of heights. How high do you go?”

“Higher than a social host ordinance can reach,” proclaimed Seagull.

This guy sounded to good to be true. I went down to Main Beach to talk to other gulls about him. Looking around for the squawker amongst them, I realized seagulls are by their very nature, posers. They stand on pier posts looking cool. And why shouldn’t they? Artists, sculptors, and photographers use them in their work all the time. So naturally the coolness has gone to their heads. It seemed that Jonathan was just one of many cool dudes. Everybody was too busy posing to talk to me. Plus my fear of heights gave me pause to conduct an interview on top of a piling made for one poser at a time. Luckily, I ran into a stool pigeon who was more than happy to give me the skinny on his seagull neighbors.

“Oh, those guys are all full of themselves. They preen around here like they own the place. Such seagull gall. And they’re pushy. Jonathan isn’t pushy. He has helped me get my fair share. He’s a charitable fellow. He’s the nicest. But he’s a dreamer among boardwalk scrapers. His head is in the clouds. He’s the ace flier of the flock,” explained the pigeon, whose head kept bobbing up and down in agreement with his discourse.

So I asked, “Are you aware Jonathan claims that he has an undergraduate degree in library science and a doctorate in phonics?”

The pigeon paused before answering. “I know Jonathan is a friend of the library. He’s instituted a no fly zone over all library material. As to having a degree in phonics, I believe that’s a simple misinterpretation. Jonathan’s advanced degree is not in phonics, but in avionics.”

Well, that explains things. A simple misunderstanding is all. Now it will be up to voters on election day to take a flier with Jonathan or stay with the flock. So pay attention to the issues and sound out the responses. It’s wise this year for Lagunans to get hooked on phonics.


Mark is a transplant to Laguna from Chicago. He occasionally writes the guest column “Pet Peeves.” His recently deceased Border Collie, Pokey, is his muse and ghostwriter.

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