Northern Exposure

Your letters and birds are leaving a mark.

I woke up the Saturday morning before writing this to the sound of songbirds — many more songbirds than in the summertime chorus. That’s thanks to the fact that, while I’m sleeping in Florida with my windows open, 70 percent of you reading this are shivering under blankets or huddled by fireplaces. But your songbirds have migrated here. All of them.

And they’re crapping on my boat!

They seemed to have arrived about the same time that I received seven e-mails from readers who were offended by our tastefully done (I thought) swimsuit feature (November/ December 2010). I wondered if that was entirely a coincidence.


There was actually one letter with a stamp. It was signed “Disgusted” — exactly the way I felt when I saw the soiled sole of my newly polished Bluewater. I noticed this assault while I was fixing a couple of things I was too busy to fix during fishing and during our summer swimsuit photo shoot. Well, I was pretty busy answering e-mails too. From the tone of some of them, I was now positive that the birds were doing the bidding of the e-flamethrowers.

Perhaps you, e-flame writer, told them there was millet seed on my boat instead of two feral cats. With your birds’ poop in the bow and those cats tracking up the stern, there was not a single feather to be seen; birds and bird lovers have nothing to fear from feral cats.

I got some complimentary mail too, but together, so few letters make a small population for compiling statistics. But the negative feelings expressed were as visceral as the evidence the birds left on my boat. There are two patterns the birds fly when dumping their loads: southeast and southwest. There’s a perfect and smelly X centered in the bow. The aroma is not unlike the opinions expressed in some of the letters.


About a third of the men complaining preferred seeing the boats without the women on them. Another third were concerned their boys would spirit the issue to the bathroom along with the equally risqué Sears lingerie flyer. Another third just didn’t know what to think but decided they had to write.

I sort of lumped the latter in with my birds. They didn’t know why they were there, but as long as they were, they’d like to leave a mark.

The women I expected to be more brutally opposed to the swimsuit feature, were not. But some were more brutal in the way I didn’t anticipate. Half of the women who graced me with their words and birds said things like:


“That swimsuit is just wrong on that girl!”

“That girl just doesn’t belong in that story.”

I look prettier than some of those girls.”


One actually got our point and requested more information on Miss Premier’s pink bikini. The fashion information, by the way, is posted online at

Well, here’s the January issue — the mark of a new year. I hope you enjoy it. And please, call off your birds at least for now. I’d like to clean up my boat.

Randy Vance, Editor-in-Chief