Show of hands: Who among us hasn’t laughed at tourists getting their food stolen by the seagulls? I know I’m guilty of laughing. To be fair, gulls often “steal” food only after the tourists who had been feeding them decide to stop feeding them because they selfishly want to eat, too. That’s not how seagulls work, y’all. Nevertheless, feeding seagulls is some sort of weird fascination for people visiting our St. Pete Beach for the first time. I don’t get it; don’t you people have pigeons and ducks and crows at home? Seagulls are just like these birds, only they crap a lot more and get far more aggressive. Pixar had it right in Finding Nemo: Rats with wings.
I have such disdain for the tourist/seagull dynamic that when my friend Andrea and I went to get ice cream at Paradise Sweets in Pass-A-Grille this afternoon, I snorted derisively (in my head, of course, because I am, above all, a lady) at the cartoon depicting a seagull stealing a lady’s ice cream cone and warning customers to be careful with their cones. What kind of idiot do you have to be, I wondered (again, in my head) to lose your ice cream cone to a seagull?
Karma, man. She’s a harsh bitch.
So Paradise Sweets serves Working Cow ice cream, which is this awesome local ice cream. Andrea turned me on to a new flavor combination: A half-scoop of pistachio and a half-scoop of salted caramel. In repayment, I offered to show her the secret sidewalk, so we started north along the beach, eating our cones and engrossed in our conversation.
When you live in Florida and spend any time at the beach at all, the sounds of gulls becomes white noise, much as I imagine the sounds of traffic must be in New York City. Which is why I totally didn’t realize a mean pack of predatory seagulls (but I repeat myself) were air-stalking me until one of the bastards swooped down and grabbed my entire cone as I was lifting it to my mouth.
Andrea, for her part, laughed at me, then got busy protecting her cone. She walked stooped over, trying desperately to stave off the gulls, who had tasted
blood salted caramel ice cream and wanted more. As you can see from the picture, this was not what anyone would call an “optimal ice cream experience” for Andrea.
Of course, in the end, the gulls won. I should point out that Andrea is a master naturalist, a park ranger, and a member of the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club. When the gulls finally bested her, she looked at them and yelled, “I WORK TO SAVE YOU!”
The gulls, for their part, remained unimpressed. Well, unimpressed with Andrea. They seemed pretty happy with the ice cream, though. I wouldn’t be shocked to read their review of Paradise Sweets on Yelp later.
The best part, however, came a few hundred feet later when a couple of women who, judging by their being in bikinis in 60-degree weather, were tourists, essentially accused us of feeding the gulls (who were still following us, despite Andrea’s cries of, “We don’t HAVE any more food! Go AWAY!” which is exactly what John Audubon said the first time sea gulls ate his ice cream. True story.)
Anyway, the moral of this story is, eat your ice cream inside. Or carry a BB gun when you walk with it on Pass-a-Grille Beach. (This post, I should not, is neither Andrea nor Audubon Society approved.) Either way, I leave you with this super-cute picture I took of Andrea right after the gulls outwitted her: