Matthew Keenan

Feathering your nest can be an epic disaster, published in KC Star, November 21, 2012

by on Nov.22, 2012, under Uncategorized


Things always seem to happen to me. Bad things. Like what happened a week ago Sunday while I was doing something very important in the garage of our rental house. A rental that has a few mechanical issues, like a door to the garage that doesn’t shut properly. A solution squarely within the wheelhouse of some husbands. “Door latch problem! Let me get my door jam tools!” That dad has things I don’t have, like, well, everything. Including a wife who looks at him adoringly with his tool belt and thinks she is married to that guy named Ty on Extreme Makeover.

But my Titanic-worthy moment had commendable beginnings. Five hours earlier I was in Great Bend with my dad, brother and KU senior Tommy, plus five of his buddies. When your 22-year-old, who otherwise forgot you existed, calls you up and says “I want to go hunting next weekend with grandpa. And take five fraternity buddies with me.” You pause, exhale, gulp down three Tylenols and say ‘Sure. Let’s do this.’ And we did.

The hunting weekend was a success for one reason — no one pulled a Dick Cheney. There was an additional bonus — exposing dudes to the storytellers from the greatest generation, as we did over the dinner table Friday night, tasting various reds and whites with KC strips that Ruth Chris can’t touch. Texting took a holiday.

Still, this was a logistical challenge. Managing shotguns, shells, gear, multiple licenses, permits, hunter safety authorizations, and then figuring who was hunting where. On Sunday when I pulled up at home, the cargo included residuals from a successful hunt — plus two geese that fell out of the Suburban. And so at 3 p.m. I found myself in our garage trying to clean the game. Throw in Bernie who was in freak-out mode about these odd looking birds invading her space, and things were getting complicated.

But if the was the end of the story, I would be enjoying marital harmony and you would be reading the sports section. It’s what happened next that made this a Keenan moment. You see, that Sunday was a windy, blustery day. And cleaning large birds involves separating the feathers and keeping them bagged. When I started, Lori ducked her head outside and with a furrowed brow said, “You are going to clean those birds? The house is spotless, we have Thanksgiving coming up. Please don’t let any of those feathers get in here.”

And if you know where this story is going, add perceptive to your skill set.

My plan was to dissect the birds in a manner that would make Harold Ensley proud. Everything was going according to plan for maybe five, 10 seconds. That’s when Harold morphed into Clark Griswold. Bernie started barking, the wind started blowing and the knife I was using had apparently been used to cut concrete. There were other complicating factors. Fatigue of driving 250 miles while my passengers snored and some NFL games I was trying to follow on my phone.

To say things weren’t going as expected is like saying Custer’s last day was a good one. One thing was going terrific, however. The breast feathers were coming off easily. The pile was growing fast. They were also quickly taking flight, circling around, some moving outside the garage and likely heading to your subdivision. Others were accumulating on the floor, on my hands, face, shirt, plus Bernie’s nose. The pile was growing, and moving.

And then it happened. An event that would rival any disaster you can imagine — more horrific than the Chiefs’ season, the Royals’ last trade and the Jayhawks’ football coaching combined. The door to the house blew open. Ever seen goose feathers move through a wind tunnel? Few have. In a nano-second, those lighter-than-air pests began invading our kitchen, dining room, family room. Not everywhere, mind you. Just everywhere there was air.

This was a disaster of biblical proportions to be sure, but something elevated it beyond this dimension. At that second, my wife and daughter were watching a movie together in the room just inside the door. Their choice? The Notebook. Just when their tear ducts were under siege they came face to face with a white swirling cloud, Bernie yelping and a husband looking for the car keys to find the nearest Holiday Inn Express.

Anybody have a couch I can borrow?

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