There are two kinds of bad idea. The first kind is forgivable; the second is not. Examples of the first kind include getting uncharacteristically drunk, or sleeping with someone else’s girlfriend. People do these things, often in sequence, and we say, “That was dumb, but hey, you’re only human.”
The unforgivable bad ideas make us marvel at just how dumb humans can be. I live very near an unforgivable bad idea. Someone, probably Robert Moses, had a highway built through my neighborhood. This was a bad idea for a long list of reasons, but what makes it unforgivable is the pigeon shit.
To get to the subway, I must walk under a highway. A highway underpass is a pigeon’s favorite place to eat, fornicate, die, raise babies, and shit. I suspect many pigeons live their whole lives without leaving the highway they were born under, not once. You’d think they’d leave for food, but, inexplicably, people — or maybe just one jerk — spread(s) birdseed under the highway most mornings. My non-birdseed-spreading neighbors and I must then spend our mornings dodging pigeon shit on the way to the subway, often before we’ve had our coffee.
I just cannot believe good Mr. Moses didn’t see pigeon shit coming. If he didn’t, he is unforgivably stupid. If he did, he is unforgivably mean.