Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Assassin's Creed: Pigeon Revelations

This post is a proud contribution to the Character Assassination Carousel, developed by Nicole Leigh Shaw at Ninja Mom Blog, in which, each month -- and I quote -- a "highly trained shredder of childhood pulp" " blasts some kiddie lit to kingdom come."  

I would be remiss if I did not thank my husband, Rayne, for his contributions to today's assassination. For he, too, has been forced to read this book at least a thousand times. Thank you, honey, for all that you are, including, now, my co-assassin.

I hope you enjoy this week's assassination of The Pigeon Loves Things That Go!.

A few months ago, my darling then-16-month-old son became obsessed with a book he had received in utero at my baby shower from an unknown soul who was completely unaware he or she would be on my shit list for eternity: The Pigeon Loves Things That Go!.

Pigeons Are Flying Rats

My first issue with the Pigeon is an existential one. Pigeons are flying rats. They are everywhere in New York, shitting their little white goop on your head while you are en route to class. (That actually happened to...um, someone I knew... in business school.)

Pigeons are disgusting. According to Wikipedia, feral pigeons are the lowly, urban cousins of domestic pigeons, which were bred from doves. "Feral pigeons find the ledges of buildings to be a substitute for sea cliffs...." Pathetic.

What genius decided it would be brilliant to make pigeons the cute, dopey object of a toddler's affection? After being read this book 45,000 times, my son now thinks pigeons are dirty little dogs with wings. He always wants to pet them. The Pigeon loves things that go! Henry loves things that go! They should be BFF.

Except, no.


If we accept, however, that the book is narrated by the second-foulest creature (after rats themselves) to grace the New York City subway system, we can turn to a more disturbing issue: the Pigeon has one eye.

I'm not sure to whom the one-eyed Pigeon is supposed to give nightmares, though I suspect it is not the toddler, who has yet to sit through hours of 7th-grade English lectures on the Cyclops character in The Odyssey. Either way, it seems like an unnecessary handicap.

But let's move on to the "story."

The Pigeon Is Delusional

This book -- a whopping five pages long -- has no plot. Zero. Zilch. The Pigeon loves things that go. That's it. Each page features a thing that goes (e.g., bus, airplane, train), and the Pigeon makes a "cute" comment about each. For example, "Bus. Can't you just see me driving one?!" That. Is. The. Entire. Page.

But the simplicity belies the Pigeon's darker motives. The first clue is how unaware the Pigeon is of his own position in the world. A pigeon driving a bus? Preposterous! His arms would be way too short. And with only one eye, he would have absolutely no depth perception, causing accidents galore. As if there isn't enough traffic in the city.

The next page features "Train." The Pigeon quips, "Pigeon express comin' through!" Oh, so now he's a train engineer, too? Must be Amtrak, that's all I can say.

Finally, we get to "Airplane," at which the tired flying Pigeon comments, "Sure beats flapping!" As if that one-eyed Pigeon could make it past TSA. I barely got my son's squeezy packets through the security line at LaGuardia in July. I'd love to see how that conversation would go:

"Sir, you'll have to step aside. We don't allow pigeons in coach." {Feathers flying everywhere as they pat the Pigeon down.}

After singing the praises of the bus, train and airplane, we arrive to the last object that "goes": the Hot Dog.


That's right, out of nowhere appears this little yellow pigeon on the bottom left-hand corner of the story with a hot dog.

Not to be fooled, our clever Pigeon responds, "Hey, what's the big idea? A hot dog doesn't 'go'!"

I don't want to infringe on the copyrights of this masterpiece, so I'm just going to sketch out the final two dramatic pages:

"Does too!" says the yellow pigeon friend. "A hot dog can go right into my belly!"

This plot line further underscores the "delusional Pigeon" argument. A pigeon is closer to being inside a hot dog than to eating one. The arrogance of the entire feral pigeon community is truly startling.

(Incidentally, why must we teach children about hot dogs? Hot dogs are disgusting bits of processed mystery meat smashed into the shape of a penis. Couldn't it have been an apple? Way to make my life even more difficult, Pigeon Dahling.)

At this point, the Pigeon breaks the fourth wall, peering directly into the soul of the trapped adult reader with a look of annoyance at the yellow pigeon friend's terrible joke.

The Pigeon Is Manipulative

The hot dog plot device is but a clever ruse to get the adult reader on the Pigeon's side so he or she will buy more books about the Pigeon. Because, yes! There are more books in the series.

Who is this little yellow pigeon friend? After three whole pages of the original one-eyed Pigeon building trust with the audience, this little yellow brat tries to steal the show. The Pigeon wants the adult reader to side with him. The yellow pigeon friend is clearly a plant to distract the audience from the insidiousness of the one-eyed Pigeon.

The hot dog joke cannot be meant for my son. Toddlers do not get irony. The first time I read the book, I laughed in a snarky non-laugh way. Heh heh heh. Oh yellow pigeon friend, you are sooooooooooooooo hilarious. But my son doesn't get snark. Or sarcasm. He laughed, too, because Mommy did. Now, he laughs every time, like that page is the funniest joke in the world. I want to explain to him how unfunny it is. How it's like a line out of the corniest cancelled TV show from 1958. But he doesn't know the word corny. And he has never watched TV. Such a comparison would probably be lost on him.

So why break the fourth wall? Is it the Pigeon's way of acknowledging that there is surely a tormented adult reading this book to a child? A little attempt at adult humor? No. The joke is not funny. The Pigeon is not on your side. If you read between the lines, the last page is just the final turn of the knife in a ha! you bought this book! now you're reading it! kind of way. And you should buy more of the series because at least you wouldn't have to laugh at this bad joke anymore! Go to hell, little Pigeon. Go straight to hell.

Mystery Solved

Not long after we entered the Pigeon Vortex of Pain, I happened upon an old baby shower thank-you list while cleaning up my messy desk. Lo and behold, whom did I discover had given us the glorious gift of the Pigeon? None other than my very own sister. I sent her an email on April 24, 2013. Below is a screen shot of the conversation with incriminating evidence blacked out. You're welcome, sis.

Moral of the story: never accept gifts from strangers or family members.

Target: The Pigeon Loves Things That Go!

Mission: Accomplished

Previous Assassin: Alyson @ The Shitastrophy

Next Assassin: Stephanie @ Binkies and Briefcases