Geese are to blame for the first big-league bad word I said in front of my mom.
I was 15. And taller than her. I was taller than her at age 7. No, it was at least 8. Maybe 10.
We’d just moved to Charlotte, N.C., from Greeley, Colo. Schools were on winter break, and we stayed in a Hilton until our house was ready (this was pre-Suite Life of Zack and Cody, so I didn’t know I could smart off and trick people and terrorize the front desk and not get in trouble.
As we walked around the lake, my mom, my sister and me, we dodged goose bombs all over the sidewalk. Geese, it turns out, poop more than toddlers. Like, 57 times more.
So, the tip-toe and side-step commenced. “All this goose poop!” mom said, or something probably like that. (It was 27 years ago after all. The Internet hadn’t even been invented).
“I know!” I said. “!@#%ing geese!”
Speaking of geese and bad words … here’s what the girls asked.
1. What do geese eat?
Not their words, as I might have wished I did. (I didn’t even get in trouble).
Geese are herbivores, the waterfowl equivalent of a vegetarian (only geese, and presumably all herbivores, don’t tell you at every turn that they’re herbivores, or post crap about it on Pinterest). They eat grass, grain, wheat, and other food stuff that Dr. Oz would endorse whole-heartedly.
Geese also have a lightning-quick digestive systems that go grain to butt goo in one hour or less. Which is why the end product looks like something that would go in a Dr. Oz smoothie.
Speaking of fecal matter …
2. Why do the raiders play on dirt?
Because they couldn’t afford the upgrade to goose droppings.
The raiders, who, it’s no secret I hate more than I do Michelle Obama’s lunch plan, Pink’s lyrics and Disney Channel kids combined, are the only NFL team that still shares its stadium with a baseball team, the Oakland Athletics.
So, until October, raiders home games feature infield dirt.
Which begs the question: If a raiders jersey gets dirty – how can you tell?
Speaking of slimy invertebrates …
3. Is a slug just a snail without a shell?
Most slugs have an internal shell that protects it about as well as a kicker’s one-bar face mask protects him from a charging linebacker. Semislugs have a shell but can’t retreat into it. That protects him about as well as Oakland police protect a 49ers fan at the Oakland Coliseum.
When you squint, how tough is it to distinguish between a goose turd, a banana slug or the raiders’ home field?
4. Who usually holds the ball for the kicker?
Finally, we walk upright. Long enough to kneel and hold a football with your index finger.
Back in the day, your quarterback held the ball for a placekicker. That changed when quarterbacks began to earn more money than grocery baggers. Nowadays, it’s a backup quarterback or punter – someone whose fingers aren’t integral to a team’s overall success, other than on kick attempts.
The holder kneels about 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage, receives the hiked ball, places it on the turf at a specific angle, with the laces facing away from the kicker, and holds it just so with one finger, while backup lineman foam at the mouth while running at him in search of a blocked kick.
Which brings us to a question of toughness …
5. What’s stronger, metal or steel?
People often mistakenly interchange the terms metal and steel, like they do ducks and geese, slugs and snails, raiders fans and …
OK, I’ll lay off the raiders already.
Metals are chemical elements of various opaque, fusible, ductile and lustrous substances, according to Merriam-Webster. They’re in the periodic table of elements hanging on that poster in the back of Mr. Burke’s classroom at John Evans Junior High in Evans, Colo. Metals are pure.
Steel is an alloy, a combination of iron (a metal) and carbon content, on the order of 0.5 to 1.5 percent. This alters the iron from being a true metal. It’s iron, on steroids. Impurities inherent in iron, such as phosphorous, silica and sulfur, must be removed from iron to turn it into steel.
So, steel’s the stronger of the two.
Stronger, even, than a !@#%ing goose’s constitution.