I'm TERRIFIED of black swans. I have been since I was six or eight. My family was visiting my grandmother for a vacation one summer, and as we often did, we went to the Alamaba Shakespeare Festival (a theatre complex, not an event) to see some play or another. Now play, schmay, the important thing about this place to a kid was there was a playground! And a hill to roll down! And a pond with DUCKS!! So we'd usually take bread to feed the duckies after the play.

One other thing, the theatre is famous for having a pair or two (depending on the year) of australian black swans on their lake. Beautiful animals, really unusual, and very few people keep them well. This theatre does.

So little wuukiee, in a jumper, teeshirt, pigtails and barefoot is feeding all the pretty birdies. And oh, look! There's mr black birdie over there all by himself with mrs black birdie, I bet they want some food and friends too!

So silly me walks over, throwing bread at the larger male, swimming fretfully around the female sitting on the edge of the lake. Suddenly he rears up in the water, swims at me, and starts RUNNING towards me, honking fiercely and puffing himself up, until with his neck stretched he was nearly as tall as I was. Thinking he just wanted the food and wanting to get away as fast as I could, I pulled the WHOLE loaf out of the bag and yelled "Here, take it!!!" and made a mad break for the car.

My parents, between laughing so hard they could hardly speak, explained that no, the swan was not hungry, the lady swan had a nest and he was being a good daddy and protecting it from anyone who came near. I was indignant because I just wanted to be friends. But to this day, I'm terrified of black swans.