Hilarity Ensues / by Courtney Mehlhaff

So it's 12:30 am, and I can't get to sleep. Why? The woman who lives in the apartment above me has been laughing loudly and hysterically for the past 15 minutes. I can't tell if she's on the phone or if someone is tickling her funny bone in person (or tickling anything else, frankly) but something has gotten her going.

Not that I'm complaining. It's preferable to the evening when, off and on for the better part of an hour, I heard what resembled the sweet sounds of romance, accompanied by the frenzied repetition of "John! John! John!" Usually I'm a supporter, albeit reluctantly, of those who are fortunate enough to be bumpin' uglies, since at least someone in my building is getting some. But that night I found myself very close to pounding on the ceiling and yelling, "John, whatever you're doing to her, STOP IT!"

Tonight, however, I've been trying to remember when exactly I laughed that hard. I generally find many things amusing, but rarely do I engage in the kind of hearty, uncontrollable guffaws now drifting down from above. The last time I remember really losing it was a couple months ago, when I was driving home from a friend's house at about 11:00 on a Friday night. I stopped at a light and happened to glance to my right, where someone in an eagle costume was waiting on the curb.

I did a triple-take, because although I hadn't been drinking, I suspected that perhaps I was hallucinating in some fashion. No, it was a person in a full-out, mascot-like bald eagle getup, complete with a huge head, which apparently was difficult to see out of, since he had to keep stopping and looking down to check where his large, taloned feet were landing in the crosswalk.

I looked beyond him, expected a group of kids to be following in his wake, maybe a team of sorts or a theater group, out for some fun after a game or a show. Nope. All alone.

He passed in front of my car and reached the other side of the street, where he simply stood, flapping his gigantic wings and swiveling his head frantically, as if he had migrated this far and now wasn't sure which way to go. Then, from the opposite direction came a tiny, beat-up car that screeched up next to him. He leaned in toward the window and there was a slight commotion ... then he disappeared into the back seat and the car sped away, complete with its endangered cargo.

All this happened in the span of a red light. I blinked several times, still unsure of what I had witnessed. By the time I got my turn arrow, I was laughing. I laughed so hard all the way to my apartment building that I nearly threw up in the parking lot. Because not only were those 30 seconds one of the most bizarre, delightful gifts I've ever received from the universe, but I knew how completely crazy I would sound when I re-told the story. Who would believe me?

I still don't know what happened on the corner of Silver Lake and 37th that night. Was it a prank? Was it a drunken dare? Did some kid piss off his friends, who then left him at Walgreens to fend for his feathery self? Or was it simply a very patriotic prostitute? Take your pick. I'll take the memory -- if all goes well, it might just replace my recollection of "John! John! John!"