5 for Friday: Go Ask Daddy About Goose Loafs, Shell-less Snails and Steel Strength

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!”


Sorry, mom.

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?

The banana slug is the mascot for USC Santa Cruz, just 70.8 miles from Oakland.


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.

Sorry, mom.


  1. Giving the raiders a hard time eh? I remember reading a biography on Errol Flynn. When he was a boy living on the farm in Tasmania, yes he was an Aussie, he delighted in tying a lump of bacon fat on a length of string. He’d throw the fat down in front of a goose, which would delight in gulping it down, whoosh straight through the other end. then the next goose would gobble it down and so on. When all the geese were connected he’d run off and hide. I guess it’s all about whatever floats your boat. great post BTW.

      1. Mate, he was something of a wild child indeed. Lived an adventurous life in the days long before political correctness, jumped into more beds than a high flying bedbug. A flash smile, large package, good-looking, drank like a fish, movie star and died from liver failure and VD on a yacht with his teenage girlfriend. They don’t make them like that anymore Eli.

  2. My favorite line in this post: presumably all herbivores don’t tell you at every turn..or post crap about it on Pinterest. LOVE! I remember when the Falcons shared the dirt with the Braves at Fulton County Stadium. And I’m still ticked they tore down Fulton after the Olympics. At least you can still hit the Varsity post-game for some absolutely non-herbivore fare!

    1. Non-meat eaters are so proud, aren’t they? I witnessed a convert back to carniverousness today who said, as she destroyed a Chick-fil-A biscuit, “what was I thinking?”

      Fulton County Stadium was site of my first major-league baseball game – I saw John Smoltz battle Greg Maddux (then with the Cubs).

      That place was cool. RIP.

  3. You didn’t totally answer the slug/snail/shell question. Is Gary the Snail from Spongebob related to slugs or not? Inquiring minds need to know.

  4. At first I was all like…..whoa with the Raiders dissing…because, well Football…??
    but then I just changed it to about the Toronto Maple Leafs….and then I was all #$#$#$ Yeah! preach it bro.
    well, since I live in Canada with said geese….you can imagine the words I would use. in 2 languages. because I am all patriotic and @@$#$. merde. 😉
    P.S. I would tell you that they are rather tasty for us meat-eating sorts…..but that would be illegal, so….
    ……if anyone asks – I was never here!

  5. I get those “why is the sky blue” questions all the time. My kids have a knack for asking the most twisted questions: “What would be more painful, a hammer to the toe or losing a nail?” Granted, they are older, and they’re at that curious stage where they ask about anything, really. I haven’t used profanity yet, so that’s a good sign!

    1. Oh, I get a few of those, too. Like, which do I hate more, the kids’ music or their TV shows? (I know that’s not the same, but those shows are kind of like a hammer to the toes).

  6. I was gonna say, you were 15 when you first swore in front of your mom?!! My daughter already has said choice words in front of me.
    I’d hate to be a semislug. That seems worse than being a slug. And the Disney Channel kids lineup is currently my background noise as I write this to you!

    1. Well, that’s the first time I dropped the F bomb. I know!

      Semislugs probably have some identity issues, plus snails probably think they’re kind of skanky for going shell-less.

      Background noise is right. I swear, those shows give me a cramp in my pancreas.

  7. This is funny.So I am following your blog. Thanks for following mine. We also have almost the identical number of followers (well, now you are ahead)–so that’s super significant. I absolutely love that your first swear slip in front of your mom was so vibrant.

    1. Thanks! Yours is pretty cool, too. Look forward to reading more. My followers jump and fall every day. It’s like the stock market. Writing bad stuff about the raiders seems to have given the numbers a boost – or that might be coincidence.

      I still blame the geese on that one.

  8. That is just horrible that the slug is a mascot. Why would anyone do that? Oh the mighty slugs…people are definitely quaking in their shoes when they hear that. Does the opposing team’s fans throw salt at them?

    1. Can you imagine playing quarterback at that school, and trying to pick up a girl by telling her you’re captain of the banana slugs? Couldn’t be any worse than the raiders. Maybe at pep rallies, the student body says “we’re going to eat your garden – slowly!”

  9. So apparently I’m the first one to see this in the new year. Whoop! I was laughing the whole way, but also utterly amazed at how well you went from goose droppings all the way to the integral life of a steel beam. Overachiever.

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