Dirty Bird [dur-tee burd]

(noun). This is the guy (or gal!) who thinks it’s gonna win them a reward to shout something dirty or suggestive–and perhaps also gesticulate–out a car window at someone before speeding away. The dirty bird’s approach: fly in, swoop low, drop a load of crap, maybe strut around a little bit, then flit away, chirping merrily to the other dirty birds about what they’ve just done.

Last week, against my better judgment, I ventured into downtown Austin during SXSW for a networking event. I was dressed in casual work attire, sporting a flowy light blouse belted at the waist, a pencil skirt, and a pair of flats. I thought the outfit seemed appropriate for a warm, sunny afternoon that might involve a moderate amount of walking. What I did not plan for was that I’d actually end up walking close to four miles round trip in that outfit because I was unable to find a single parking spot anywhere downtown.

My skirt had been carefully selected for the fact that it was flattering–not too tight, not so loose that it wouldn’t pair with the flowy blouse–and a conservative length. However, I hadn’t taken into account the fact that such a skirt might turn into a movement restricting apparatus during a miles-long hike, drawing my knees together and encouraging an unpleasant phenomenon I now recognize as thigh chafe.

That afternoon as I hiked back toward my car and consequently learned of my induction into the Thigh Chafe Initiate Club, I wound up strolling past a line of cars waiting at a light. I think I felt it coming before it happened, when one of the traffic sitters shouted “hey cutie!” through the open window of his truck at me. I turned my face only enough to see who was yelling and if I should be concerned, which prompted him to tack an obscene gesture on at the end of the greeting.

I tell you what, I couldn’t fling my clothing off quickly enough! I hopped right on into his truck and drove off into the sunset with him.

Nope, that’s not how it works. That’s not ever how it works.

Coincidentally, only moments before this encounter I’d sent a text to my husband telling him I was feeling kind of low, and that oh by the way I now get what thigh chafe is and it’s really not helping my mood at all. Then in swooped dirty bird to save the day, dropping an uplifting compliment and an encouraging gesture, to send my mood soaring back into the clouds.

Thank you, dirty bird. No thank you.

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