I pulled my calf muscle last summer, when I was training at Tiger Muay Thai. I told everyone it was from doing Muay Thai, but that wasn’t the reason. What actually happened: an aggressive goose chased me up a hill, and in my panicked run away from the crazed animal, I pulled my calf muscle. It was so bad I could barely walk for days.
The first people I told about this incident was a group of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters. I could tell they were trying for empathy, but considering that these guys choke each other for fun on a regular basis, they weren’t really feeling my pain.
“Wait… so how big was this bird?”
“It’s not a bird, it’s a goose! And it was HUGE!”
“So a goose chased you up a hill? You train at Tiger, weren’t you faster than it?”
“No! I tried to get away and it attacked me!”
“With what? It’s a bird… was it carrying a machete?”
“It’s a goose, and they have super sharp beaks!” I protested weakly.
I first met this predatory creature last summer, when I lived at Forest Bungalows. This charming guesthouse was tucked into a forest about ten minutes from Tiger Muay Thai. To get to the main road, I had to trek up a hill along a side street. And this is where I met the goose.
We’ll call him Jack. I was on my way to training when Jack sauntered onto my path. He was the biggest goose I had ever seen – the top of his head would have reached my waist. He stared me down as I approached, but I was running late, and he was just a bird, so I kept going.
Suddenly, Jack charged. He rushed towards me, head lowered in an attack pose, beak straight out, dead beady eyes glaring at me with the intense hatred of a convicted felon meeting its prison guard. His wings were flapping, but because of its enormous size, it didn’t seem able to fly. The wingspan and speed of this creature was mind-blowing. I screamed and ran back down the hill.
I missed my class that day. I couldn’t figure out a way to get there without crossing Jack’s path, and I was already late.
As the days went by, I came to detest Jack, with a childish resentment that should only be reserved for the worst kinds of human rights abusers, and not for a giant bird with a brain the size of a pea. But I was mainly mad that I was allowing myself to be terrorized by an irritable goose with ‘roid rage.
I’m back at Tiger again, but living in a new place. I haven’t seen Jack since moving here, or any other mutant-sized goose, for that matter.
A friend came to visit me in November and mentioned that she had booked a room at Forest Bungalows.
“Just be careful,” I warned her. “There’s a really big, mean goose that used to live in the forest there – not sure if he’s still around.”
She messaged me when she got in.
“Christine, I saw the goose when I was in the taxi! But there are three of them now. Are you sure they’re not ostriches? They’re HUGE!”
I could feel my heart pounding. Three Jacks??? How did this avian monstrosity manage to find any friends? Or worse, has he reproduced? Will there now be dozens of little Jacks roaming the Forest Bungalow perimeter, terrorizing gym-goers and food vendors in their quest for Phuket dominance?
My friend told me that she found a shortcut that links my place to hers, but for weeks I refused to try it, because I didn’t want to run into Jack again. The memory of my pulled calf muscle haunted me, along with the vision of the hate-filled eyes of that animal, which could only be the offspring of a vengeful ostrich and a can of Red Bull.
I decide to take the shortcut one morning. I have talked myself through it all week, and I have decided that today is the day I will no longer be a big baby. The shortcut will save me about two minutes, and it will also prove that I’m not a spineless wimp.
Come on, Christine. You’ve climbed 40-metre rock walls, dived with sharks, fought in a ring… do NOT allow a semi-evolved Thai ostrich dictate the path you take!
I turn the corner and pass Forest Bungalows. The coast is clear, and there is no sign of Jack or of his newfound replicas.
I start to go up the hill when I hear a noise in the forest.
Just keep walking, you can do this…
Suddenly, Jack steps out of the forest and into the centre of the path. I stifle a scream. This goose has taken growth hormones since I last saw him. He’s bigger than he was last summer, and he’s definitely been doing Crossfit.
I keep walking, but my steps are slower and less sure, and my breath is shaky.
Jack stares me down and we play a little game of “Chicken”.
Jack’s head drops to the ground and his wings start to flex threateningly. I can see his neck muscles bulging. He makes a low, guttural sound, like a sad cat being strangled – a sound that will haunt me until I die – and he charges at me. His wings are fully flared out as he runs towards me with vengeance. Muscles rippling and beak pointed straight ahead, Jack is ready for war. In front of me, I see an avian Hermes – if Hermes were a deranged goose with severe anger management issues.
I scream and turn tail, running back down the hill.
OK, Jack, you win the battle. And the war. You won everything, I’m going to hide in my room now.
I haven’t tried the shortcut since.
This story doesn’t have a good moral. I didn’t face my fears and conquer them. I didn’t gain a profound respect for all of the animals in the animal kingdom, including a territorial goose with conflict-resolution problems.
Some days, I am a brave, strong, and independent woman who is up for an adventure and a challenge. And other days, a dumb flightless bird chases me down a hill while I cry and run away.
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