The Peacock Perplexity

With a flourish of his extravagant tail, the stately but geographically confused peacock paraded into the liquor store. There had been an unseasonable cold snap, and somewhere in the recesses of his avian brain he must have realized that it would be warmer inside than outside.   The manager of the store, moving quickly behind a counter, immediately shouted at him, “Hey, get out of here, bird!”  The gentleman in question did not speak peacock, and all the peacock heard was, ‘krenn krenn krenn krenn’. But his loud voice startled the strutting exhibitionist, and, involuntarily, he spread out his enormous hundred eyed tail and ran.  Peacocks, as only a few people are aware, have a wretched sense of direction, and this eager prisoner of his own plumage was no exception.  He ran directly into a display of dessert wines, smashing magnums and litres with a resounding crash that only agitated him more.  He slipped in the spreading red and white puddles, and careened into the aperitif shelf, Drambuie over teakettle.  The store manager, whose name tag said ‘Skiff’, although his name was Jeff, charged the stumbling peacock with the only thing handy, an empty box. The peacock bolted away, and knocked over a champagne display and a case of Chablis.  He darted through the store, skidding, sliding and knocking bottles to the floor until Skiff managed to get the box over his head, but it was only his head.  His enormous tail feathers still flared out behind him, threatening more mayhem.

“Oh god, oh god,” Skiff mumbled, one hand on the box and his other arm wrapped around the bird’s body.  “What now?”

He slipped once in the spillage, but managed to maneuver the peacock to the closet in the corner with only the loss of one shelf of reds and a few bottles of vodka.  He shoved the bird in and stuffed in his feathers with his foot, and with trembling hands, called the police.

^^

The police, when they understood the nature of the emergency, passed it off gladly to the Animal Control division, and, after only a few hours delay, two officers from Animal Control tiptoed carefully into the store.  “Greetings, shop owners. We’re from A.C.” the taller one said, his thumbs hooked comfortably into his belt.  “Our stated and sworn mission is to relieve you of inconveniences of non-human origin. We have been given to understand that you are in peril from a pavo cristatus.” He smiled benignly.

“Quite a prodigious engagement in here,” the shorter one said scanning the wreckage.  “Somewhat reminiscent of a carousal I attended in my carefree youth, the less said about which the better.”

“We took pictures of all the damage,” Skiff said, “but we wanted you to witness it, just for, you know, insurance purposes.”  Skiff looked over at the store owner, standing with arms folded in the corner of the store, having difficulty breathing.  The owner, who never bothered to wear a name tag, was known by friends and customers as Bryce, although his name was Robert.

“What is the perp’s current twenty?” The shorter A.C. asked.  Skiff and Bryce looked at each other and then at the officer.

The taller officer said, “He means where is the bird.”

Bryce and Skiff pointed toward the closet from which a muffled “krenn krenn krenn krenn” emanated.

“He’s a peacock,” Bryce said.  “A full grown peacock.”

“Of course he is,” the two officers said together.  The tall one’s name tag identified him as Officer Gwynn, but everyone called him Francis.  The shorter A.C. officer’s name tag designated him as Officer Ross, but everyone called him Gunther.  They both moved carefully to the closet, sweeping debris and glass to the side with their feet.  

“May I assume some experience on your part in the category of peacocks?” Gunther asked Francis.

“Well,” Francis replied, “they are indigenous to the area. In my capacity as private citizen I have seen many and have developed an enviable skill in avoiding them.”

“Then may I assume further that your resume vis-a-vis capturing said peacocks and escorting them off premises is less than extensive?”

Francis looked at the ceiling and considered for a moment. “Yes. That is a safe assumption and one which I believe fully conforms with the facts.”

“Krenn krenn krenn krenn” said the peacock.  Gunther and Francis took a long moment to look at the door.

“Ideas?” asked Gunther.  “Generalized thoughts on the development of a viable strategy?”

“Several,” said Francis.  “And I am, at this juncture, turning them over in my mind, sequentially, to make a judgement about which would be most efficacious.”  They stood quietly for a few moments more, as Francis rubbed his chin.

“I have to admit,” said Francis at last, “that none of my propositions, at first consideration, seems to offer an elegant solution to our angry-peacock-in-the-liquor-store quandary.  I am, to be candid, stumped.  And you?”

Gunther also rubbed his chin thoughtfully.  “I have considered only the most prosaic of solutions.  Net, tranquilizer dart, taser, or the old standby, a club over the head.  I am not enamored of any of these potential remedies to treat what you have so accurately outlined as our ‘angry-peacock-in-the-liquor-store’ quandary.”

“For what it’s worth,” said Skiff, “I’m in favor of the club over the head solution. I almost killed myself getting that box over his head.”

Francis and Gunther nodded in unison at Skiff, and then turned back to face each other.  “I envision difficulties with each of your remedies,” Francis said.  “To wit, we don’t have a net big enough to encompass a fully engaged Peacock. A club over the head would certainly run us afoul of an extensive index of animal rights groups.  And neither of us are currently certified to employ either a taser or a tranquilizer dart.”

“Oh, yes,” said Gunther, “ever since the episode with the recalcitrant raccoon.”

“Exactly.”

“But Francis, you know very well that raccoon was laughing at me.  I cling to my plea of self-defense!”

“Yes, Gunther, we have been over this many times, and I am fully aware of and in sympathy with your position.  So we should address ourselves to the current happenstance of havoc.”

They turned in unison and stared at the closet door for a long minute.  Gunther said to Skiff, “Did you say something about a box?”

“You mean the one over his head,” replied Skiff.

“Yes,” said Gunther.  “The very one.  Tell me more about this alleged box.”

“It was a Tutallini Francesha box.  Pretty thick cardboard.  Picture of Mona Lisa on the side. Mostly beige, but with a yellow border.  Covered his whole head.”

“Name and color scheme are not helpful in this circumstance,” said Gunther.  “Were we engaged in a search for said box a full description would probably be constructive, nay, perhaps even advantageous.  But, in our current adventure, the color and brand of the box seem not only irrelevant, but counter productive as well, wasting, as it does, the precious commodity of time.  Would you think that the alleged box might still be occluding the vision of the perpetrating peacock, giving us a slight advantage? Or is it more likely that, in his current mode of thrashing and ‘krenning’, the box is no longer in its original location?”

Skiff walked over and pointed to a dry and unsmashed Tutallini Francesha box. “It is tall enough and wide enough to fit over his head and about halfway down his neck.  I don’t think he could have thrashed it off.”

“Ah, Gunther, the dawn breaks and light suffuses our conundrum,”” said Francis. “Your cross examination of this uncertain and yet excellent witness has yielded a nugget of valuable information.  But what we need at this critical juncture is eye-witness evidence of the current location and condition of said box.  We must, I fear, peek.”

“Then perhaps the Fledeinschpar maneuver?” Gunther suggested.

“That very notion was tripping lightly across my consciousness, Gunther,” Francis said, solemnly.  “Do you recall it from A.C. training school?”

“I do indeed. The time of my life, Francis.  The best three years of my life.  Shall I take the obverse position, and you the converse?”

“Oh, Gunther, In your enthusiasm you may have inadvertently muddled your nomenclature.  Obverse and reverse are terms applied to numismatics.  Converse, unless my merchandising aptitude has deserted me, is a brand of athletic footwear.”

“Right, then. Heartfelt amends, and well-deserved kudos to your merchandising aptitude.  However, I feel I should get credit for Fledeinschpar.”

“Credit has been suitably applied, Gunther,” said Francis tapping the side of his head.  “And now, I will take what professor Fledeinschpar has formally designated as the Evidentiary Visual Point Position, and I cordially request that you assume the Post Hoc Fundamental Auxiliary Position.  Provide, if you will, approximately a five inch aperture when I open the door. That should be sufficient for me to ascertain the status of our fine feathered adversary and his headgear.”  He reached to his belt and retrieved his flashlight.

Gunther got down on all fours and placed his shoulder about 5 inches from the door.

“I must confess, Gunther, that you seem comfortable, and even familiar, with that ungainly position.”

“I have nephews and nieces, Francis, with an unquenchable thirst for ‘Unky Gunty’s’ horsey rides.  I am at a loss to adequately express  my fear of birthday parties.”

“I can do no more than commiserate, my friend.”

“One caveat, Francis.  What should we establish as our ‘safety word’, in the event that this exercise does not proceed as we intend?”

“I think we may want to just keep it intellectually neutral, and firmly linked to the natural flow of events.  How about if I just shriek, ‘Gunther slam the door!”

“I feel certain that would meet the need, Francis.”

With a nod and no other discussion, Francis opened the door the prescribed five inches, and shone his light in.  A slight bump on the door and a louder sequence of “Krenn” were the only result.  He closed it again quickly.

“The peacock in question is no longer alleged, but quite bona fide, and, as this young man narrated, firmly hooded.  I feel confident that we can advance to the removal portion of our program.”  Bryce, the manager still in the corner, squeaked involuntarily.

“I will do the honors,” said Gunther, rising slowly to his feet.  “You have already valiantly placed yourself in harm’s way.”

^^

The final chapter of this story can be easily told. On the count of three, Francis yanked the door open and Gunther, true to his word, swept the befuddled bird into his arms and out past the shop door, being held open by Skiff. To the great relief of the store owner, still cowering and occasionally squeaking, no more inventory was sacrificed.  Outside, Francis pulled until  the box came off the head of the peacock.  He and Gunther backed quickly away in a hail of “krenn’s”.  The bird, having learned its lesson neither ran away nor attacked.  Still squawking, he stalked away, head erect and tail dragging, doing his best to retrieve his dignity.

The two officers, satisfied with their accomplishment but not given to displays of celebration, simply nodded to Skiff, waved to Bryce, and turned away.  “I do love my job, Francis,” Gunther sighed, “but I must confess I am happy to see the tail end of that disagreeable bird.”  

“Indeed,” Francis agreed.

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Keep Calm and Back Away From the Keyboard

afk

For what it’s worth, and maybe not much, I have decided to curtail my activity on the internet, and especially on ‘anti-social media’.  It is not that I don’t enjoy it and  feel the responsibility to be  informed, but that the information I get from there is skewed, often angry and about as well-thought out as a shark attack.  Many, not all but many, of the people who post in Facebook or on Twitter, in my limited experience, just want to troll.  Others want to push their ideology as what seems to them to be the only logical point of view.  Some want to shock (and do it very well.)  Some just want to be clever and collect ‘likes’ and smiley faces. Least objectionable, but most cloying, are the puppies and babies crowd.  There is a subset of those folks who use FB as a diary and thrill in the telling, often with photographs, of their daily meals, their favorite coffee cup, and who in their natural surroundings is, pregnant, graduating, going somewhere for vacation, or celebrating  a birthday.  I suppose, when originally conceived, this ‘social’ interaction was the real goal of ‘social media’.  Certainly that is a great way for disconnected friends and families in our mobile society to keep in touch.  

In the political sphere, there is not a lot of reasoned discourse available.  Some people, as is their right, just love to argue.  Stupid me, I like to learn, and I like to have informed opinions based on factual information, even in this age of ‘alternative facts’.

The real problem currently for me is some form of emotional or perhaps attentional addiction.  I think it is okay if you FB or Twitter a couple of times a day, but I find myself checking it two or three times an hour.  If I am out somewhere, AFK as the abbreviation goes, I look forward to how many new notifications and tweets there will be when I get BTK (Back To Keyboard).  In the hour I have been writing this piece I have stopped myself several times from opening a new tab and checking my Facebook.  SAD!

So, I will consciously work to cut down.  

And oh, by the way, ‘Twitter’ is a good name for the service, but ‘a tweet’, from either the Chief Executive of the most powerful nation on earth, or from a tenth grader with  social anxiety, just sounds like a wimpy way to communicate.  I propose that we change it to ‘crow’, as in, “I crowed this morning that the word ‘tweeting’ is lame.”

Not that it matters to me anymore.

This Particular Bear (A re-post)

“Yep, that is a bear, alright,” the cop said as he lowered his binoculars.

“Yep,” the other cop said.  “Not too hard to spot, with the big lumbering body, the brown fur, the teeth and the sharp claws on those huge muscular paws.”

“Yeah, kind of hard to mistake a bear, when you get right down to it.  They are distinct.”
“Have you noticed where this particular bear is?”

“Yes,” the first cop said, rubbing a spot off his binoculars.  “I made a mental note of that right off.  This particular bear is up a tree.”

“Well, yes,” the second cop said, “but more than up a tree, I think.  He is very high up in a tree, in the middle of a residential street in a city not known for having much of a bear population.”

“Yes.  It is a puzzlement.”

“Thank you for that insight, Yul Brenner.  It is a puzzlement indeed.  However, the real problem, the nub of the issue, the heart of the matter in a manner of speaking is not the location of the bear.”

“I agree.  That is not the prime consideration with which we need to treat.”

“No, sir.  The question which requires our deepest and most profound cogitation is what to do about this particular bear, high up in a tree, in the middle of a residential street in a city not known for having much of a bear population.”

“I am certainly open to suggestion,” the first cop said.  He was the senior of the two, but only by a year or two.

“Well, we can wait him out.  I believe it is a truism in the field of natural science that bears are as adept at climbing down as they are at climbing up.”

“That is certainly one strategy,” the first cop said.  “However, I detect a flaw in that scenario.”

“A flaw?” said the second cop.  “Well, I never perceived it as a perfect solution, but please, elaborate.”

“Well, it seems a reasonable surmise that this particular bear has wandered to this particular neighborhood from the surrounding hills, and has done the aforementioned wandering because he is hungry.”

“A very reasonable surmise.”

“So, follow me on this.  If he was hungry when he did his original wandering, let us try to imagine his state if we, as you so succinctly phrased it, ‘wait him out’.

“Hungrier yet, I would anticipate.”

“And I think that, in the world of bears, hungry is tantamount to dangerous.  Can we agree on that point?”

“I believe the truth of that statement does not even warrant discussion.”

“Leaving us to cogitate further and, it is to be hoped, settle on a different plan.  One that would place fewer of the local citizens, not to mention ourselves, in dire, bear-oriented peril.”

“Just so,” said the first cop, raising the binoculars to his eyes again.  “In that vein, how high up would you say this particular bear is?  I make it about thirty feet.”

“My initial and quite informal measurement led me to an estimation of approximately fifty feet.  But, I suppose we can split the difference and say forty feet.  Does the application of objective data jiggle any of your neurons?  Does it toggle any interpretation?  Corral any concepts?  Develop any dispositions to our current conundrum?”

“Only one, I’m afraid.  And it is not subtle, nor neat, nor in any way a comprehensive solution.  I suggest that we shoot this particular bear with a tranquilizer.”

“Shoot him with a tranquilizer?”

“Yes.  Thus rendering his hunger academic, his location only temporary, and transforming our problem from one of confrontation into one of transportation.”

And thusly, verily, in a trice, it was accomplished.  The bear, young and spry enough to be unharmed by his involuntary plummet, was soon transported to a wooded area and released.  As he sprinted away from civilization, he did not feel under any compunction to favor his rescuers with a backward glance.

A grateful city plans to award the two erudite officers a set of Roget’s Thesaurus, and a collectors edition of “The Best Of Toody And Muldoon.”

Through My Glasses, Darkly

I have four pairs of glasses, Well, four that I know of.  There are probably others lurking in dark recesses, shirking their duties, maybe even smirking.  Two of the ones I can locate are prescription bifocals, one regular, and one with the coating that darkens the lenses in sunlight.  So far the ‘polychromatic’ lenses have proven useless because we have barely seen the sun around here since the end of March.  The other day I heard the song “Here Comes The Sun” and the White House immediately condemned it as fake news.  

The other two pairs currently in circulation are just readers, available at any drugstore, department store, dermatologist or tree surgeon.  I try to keep the readers in the house, conveniently placed so I can use them to read.  Yeah, right.

Anyone over thirty living in the twenty-first century knows that eyeglasses migrate.  There is a rumor that they elope with the sox that go missing from your drier, but I don’t believe that.  Clearly, sox are snobbish and would not wish to share their alternate universe with something as prosaic as eyeglasses.  Glasses simply sneak around by themselves.  Logical people swear that this is not true, but they don’t even try to explain how they end up somewhere other than where they were put.  I don’t know if they flip, slide, swim, roll, slither or transport, I only know that they relocate when no one is looking.

Today for example… at least one of the bifocals is supposed to be in the car, for distance when driving.  I don’t need the readers in the car because I don’t usually read while I am driving.  Almost never.  The readers are supposed to be in the house, as I mentioned, so I can use them to read, because I don’t generally drive the car in the house.  Again, almost never.  So today, somehow, both pairs of readers were in the car and both pairs of bifocals were in the house. I think they’re just screwin’ with me now.

To paraphrase Steve Martin,” I gotta get a pair of eyeglass leg irons, and I gotta get ‘em quick!”

mr-magoo-clipart-1

Troll…ing

Trolling….

… is one of those words that you just can’t seem to hide from anymore.  The newspapers reference it, magazines use it, newscasters spout it, and social media is saturated with it.  It even came up at dinner the other night.

It’s a funny word, flexible and ambidextrous.  Being of a certain age, trolling to me still means fishing from a slow moving boat.  In the 90’s,  a troll  was a popular doll with hair like Don King, but cute.  And a troll, of course, is a mythical creature, generally huge, ugly and dumb.  I think the current cache of troll villains began in Norse mythology.  There are trolls that worked for Sauron in Lord of the Rings; Bilbo got them to argue until the sun came up when they turned to stone.  It was a troll that snuck into Hogwarts and almost turned Hermione into an appetizer.   

But we have moved from trolls to trolling.  Another example of our high-speed culture that can’t wait to turn a noun into a verb. Trolling is not cute, or dumb, but it is huge and ugly.

In the relatively new social media demimonde trolling  means to purposely antagonize someone online.  Of course there are multiple ways to do that… written text, pictures, video… and in our current political climate, trolling has become an art for some, and an obsession for others.   

But it is one of those words, or concepts, that is losing meaning, fading from overuse, fraying at the edges from being stretched to fit too many things.  Now, I think, it has morphed into any joke, negative comment, or even a reasonable disagreement directed at someone.  I react, I disagree, I joke, I poke fun, but I don’t troll.  At least  don’t think I do.

And, silly of me I know, but I have this serene image in my head when I see the word trolling.  In my head, a huge beast with bad teeth is fishing in a slow moving boat.  Behind him, a tiny naked figure with wild hair is rowing with one hand and frantically typing something into his cell phone with the other.

troll

 

 

Just A Thought

Here’s a thought.

Suppose that people had names that you could connect with wine. I know a therapist  named Moscato… and I like Moscato, and I get along with her.  Coincidence?  Perhaps not.  If I met someone named, say, Chardonnay, would I like him?  Or her?  Probably not.  The name speaks to me of a snooty guy with a widow’s peak who inserts phrases like ‘je ne sais quoi’ into a perfectly reasonable conversation and expects me to not sneer.  And the wine makes me wince.

Or let’s say a girl I meet at a party named Sangria.  I have never met anyone with that name, but she would have to be Spanish, or Mexican, and she would probably be wearing a stripey, colorful, full length skirt that she just loves to fling around.  She probably has a mole too, a small one, on her upper lip.  Her I would like.

Or how about Riesling.  That’s probably a middle name of a recent graduate of  Stanford Law School.  Hudson Riesling Harcourt for whom corporate tax work is his ticket to fame and fortune.  He could come in handy at times, like a good Riesling, but not as a steady thing.

Chablis; Probably a blonde with a big smile and lots of promise, but after she tells you  how many friends she has on face book and what her personalized license plate is,  becomes really boring.  Pass.

Dom Perignon.  A guy with a pointed beard wearing spanish breeches and waving around a little sword.  He doesn’t drink, and I hate bubbles up my nose.

Gewurztraminer;  Either a monk in a dank cellar poised over a huge book with a quill pen, or else a Reichsmarschall in the Franco-Prussian war wearing a spiked helmet.  Either way, nope.

Brut:  A professional wrestler who forces his out of work second cousin to shave his back.  Negatory under even the best circumstances.

Anyway, just a thought.

Looks

“People say believe half of what you see, son and none of what you hear.”

              — Marvin Gaye, et al

“It’s better to look good than to feel good.”   — Billy Crystal

~~~~~

In the past, days gone by, the good old days, in my day, in my time, … and similar clichés, people would tell me that I didn’t look my age.  And, while I usually don’t believe what people tell me, I believed that.  I still have most of my teeth, all my hair which is still brown, and just a small pot belly.  I still walk pretty much upright pretty much all of the time, and I don’t ever use phrases like ‘in the past, days gone by, the good old days, in my day, in my time’.  Well, I never used them before, and probably will never again.

When I retired from one of my jobs, my boss from another job asked how old I was and told me that I looked ten years younger.  “You are a very discerning woman,” I said, “and your eyesight is excellent.”

But I was brought up short the other day, or perhaps it wasn’t ‘up short’ but rather ‘up to date’ by my barber.  Nino, about whom I have written before, happened to ask how old I was.  When I told him, he didn’t say, ‘Well you look much younger’, which I certainly expected.  He said, “Oh, well, don’t worry, I’m older than you.”

‘Well,’ I thought, ‘of course you’re older than me.  Everyone is older than me.  That’s just the natural order of the universe.’

But, in a trice, or perhaps even a nonce, somehow the subject had changed from how old I look to how old I actually am.

I am not a person that reads obituaries or has anything close to a fascination with age and death, but I do find myself checking, on occasion, the ages of famous persons that come across the news.  John Glenn made his final orbit at 95.  Leonard Cohen sang his last impenetrable song at 82.  Robin Williams blew us away for the last time at 63.  

What is a little scary for me, maybe not scary but meaningful, is that I think they all looked good for their age.  

Or, in those immortal words of I-don’t-know-who, ‘Sometimes you’re Gladys Knight, and sometimes you’re just one of the Pips.’