Zootime

Never mind the robins acting like nuns in my last post, the seagulls act like fussy little school principals – or maybe like my Latin teacher when I was in Eighth Grade.

He was a plump little man with a named that rhymed with Chardonnay. He giggled at inappropriate moments and rolled his hands one over the other, like Mr. Burns on the Simpsons.

He gave me three demerits for incessant talking and when my fearsome older-mother-of-a-mom hove into sight like the Queen Mary, he giggled some more, did a rapid nervous blink and in a doomed effort to ingratiate himself, blurted out the confession that as someone whose family came from Montreal, he got his Latin and his French mixed up all the time. (That did it for Mom. You might as well have told her you didn’t know the difference between Ireland and Northern Ireland.)

She gave him a devil of a time about the Latin but the demerits were left to stand, right there on my Permanent Record, as they used to always tell us our crimes would do.

I only bring all this up so I can speak about seagulls, who as you know often appear many miles in from the briny deep. 

The seagulls I watched a few hours ago reminded me so much of Mr. Chardonnay the way they skittered and plunked skittered and plunked. They really did look like fussy little pedagogues.

I love the way can take off at a trot, the way those drinking straw legs propel their plump bodies, bip-bip-bip-bip across the ice. Bip-bip-bip-bip they go again; then stop on a dime, all turn and face left like Civil War Generals posing for a studio portrait. Then, ten minutes later they all turn right.

There’s always that one you see on the shore standing on one leg like Ahab on the deck of The Pequo .  Ahab only had one leg, remember, the other having been chomped by the white whale Moby Dick.


I saw that seagull yesterday too, standing on one with the other tucked up against his body. He was squinting into the wind trying to look like a Civil War general himself, just hoping someone would take his picture.

 I’m a nice person. I took it:

I bet he wanted to look fierce, like when Snoopy tries to look like a vulture to scare little Linus here.

“Be afraid! Be very afraid!” he is saying – Unless I’m completely wrong and really he’s pretending he’s a flamingo and would like nothing more than to trade this tan-bland landscape in for something more gorgeously hued, preferably with palm trees and a turquoise pond, where he could stand around striking poses and looking like a lady’s drink in a cocktail lounge in Key West.  (They call that projection ha ha. That’s where I wish I was, my one long leg in fish-net hose.)  

Remember Simon and Garfunkel’s The Zoo? We humans try to anthropomorphize the animals, as the images in this clip show. It’s so sweet and sad! It says everything about Poor Lonely Us and very little about Majestic Self Sufficient Them.

Because the animals, God bless ’em, just go on being animals.