1. Mow lawn
You’ll have hardly started before your nine year-old son will burst through the back door like a scrawny locomotive and scream at the top of his indoor lungs, “Ahhhhhhh! Dad! A bird, Dad! There’s a bird! It’s in the chimney!!”
2. Finish mowing lawn
Go inside to investigate. Yup, you can hear it. A goddamn bird in the chimney. What the fuck.
3. Give uninformed assurances
“It will find its way out. It found its way in!” Try to walk away.
“No,” your wife will say, looking up from Google, “A bird isn’t a helicopter. It can’t fly straight up.”
<flap flap flap flap flap flap … thunk … flap flap flap flap flap>
“Well how did it get there?” Accusingly.
“It must have fallen in.”
<flap … flap … bonk … flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap chirp bonk>
“We can let it die, I guess.” Say this quietly, your kids are right there!
“Baby.” She’ll look at you sternly. Keep your resolve! Your kids heard everything. “It will smell terrible.”
4. Get exasperated, leave for a 90 minute run
Stew. How can this possibly be your problem? Consider your lot in life. Consider running forever. Turn around and go home.
5. Is the bird still in there?
6. Poke around
What exactly are you dealing with? Invite your cautious son to look up into the chimney with you. Be a father, ease his fears, “It’s totally fine, the flue is shut. Look – the bird can’t get out.”
When he really gets in there with you, scream. “AHHHHHHH!” Laugh when your son falls over himself trying to get away. “I’m just kidding! It was a joke, everything’s okay. I’m messing with you.” Stop laughing. Smile.
“It’s not funny!” It’s not.
7. Reel him back in; you need his help now. Shoot. You should have thought of that.
He needs to hold the flashlight while your wife takes pictures and you figure out how big of a box you’ll need.
The plan is simple. Put a box in there and open the flue. The bird, covered – and I mean absolutely covered – in soot will fall into the box. Slide a piece of cardboard over the top of the box and bring it all outside. What could go wrong?
8. Take every precaution
Put on long sleeves and jeans. I know, it’s August and it’s hot, and that sucks. But there are several possible outcomes, many of which involve a liberated bird and your bare skin.
The colander is half silly, half honest-to-goodness if that bird touches my face I’m going to go batshit bananas. Your wife might offer a fantastically implausible scenario in which the bird winds up in the space between the colander and your face. She’s fucking with you. Still, take it off; you never know.
10. Brass tacks
There’s never a good time to box a chimney bird, so just go for it.
Wedge the box in there good and tight; no gaps. Nothing would make that bird happier than to flap around your living room and wriggle itself between two sofa cushions.
Take a deep breath. Relax your shoulders. Hesitate. Open the flue.
Oh! It’s in there! You felt it! You felt it fall into the box.
Gag a little.
Slide the piece of cardboard over the box and jiggle it from the fireplace. Carefully stand up and look at your handiwork. Is there a gap somewhere around the edge of the box where the top isn’t quite covering the opening? Yes, there is. And the bird can smell freedom through it.
The fall through the flue renewed the bird’s will to live and it’s starting to hop around and assess its surroundings. Jostle the box and try to shimmy the top over the gap. Tilt the box at an extreme angle to get a better grip.
Now the bird will really be going bonkers and, oh God, you just felt it brush against your hand through the box. Its teeny talons make a hair-raising sound as they scrape against the cardboard and you consider dropping the box and running out the door, which your wife has been holding open this whole time, watching in dumbfounded amazement as you stand still and clumsily juggle a box containing a bird which is caked with creosote and more pissed off than you can possibly imagine.
“What are you waiting for?? Bring it outside!”
When you get close enough, you’ll be tempted to just heave the box out the open door. As far as I’m concerned, go for it; I won’t judge you. You’ve been through so much. If your kids are watching, however, bring the box outside and put it on the driveway. Knock the cardboard top aside and dart back into the house.
Father of the year.
Glory is forever.