Friday, February 25, 2011

Ralph and Minnie and Mr. P

This story is a lie. It is a lie because I cannot remember the detailed true separate stories I am amalgamating here into one, untrue story. Got it? OK.
Once there was a couple, who, for the purposes of this untrue story, were named “Ralph” and “Minnie.” They had lived good hardworking lives, and retired comfortably on Ralph's pension and their savings.
Look, I told you this story wasn't true.
In retirement they settled in the pleasant land of northern California, on the outskirts of an old Spanish town. They found a house that suited them, with neighbors close enough that they did not feel isolated, and far enough away that they did not feel crowded.
A creek flowed along the rear of their property. Over the years animals would walk up from the creek into their yard, stray cats and raccoons, mostly.
One autumn a peacock came bobbing up out of the creek. It was a gorgeous creature, and Minnie loved it. She bought some corn to throw to it, and whether it was the food, or for some slightly more skewed reason, the peacock stayed.
Minnie called him Mr. P, and all that winter he graced their back yard. They asked around to see if anyone had lost a peacock, but no one claimed Mr. P.
Minnie was an artist, and Mr. P was a flamboyant model. She sketched him as she looked through the windows, and in the spring she set an easel up in the yard to do a painting of him.
Alas, in the spring a peacock's fancy turns to thoughts of love, and he fell for Minnie, hard. His tail would come up in a spectacular display of feathers when he saw her. This was fine until Mr. P tried to mount Minnie, which scared her.
Now Mr. P became her jailer. She couldn't go out into the backyard to tend plants, or hang clothes out to dry, or throw the compost away, or paint some other subject than the peacock for Mr. P would immediately force his attentions upon her. The situation was untenable.
Ralph and Minnie found no help for their problem. No one wanted Mr. P.
But he had to go. Finally they heard of a bird sanctuary a few hours' drive away. They figured they had their solution, but how to capture and transport the large amorous bird? I don't know who came up with a solution, but finally they had a plan, and they put it to work.
They soaked some feed corn in bourbon. It might have been vodka, but this is my lie, and I like bourbon, so hush.
The morning came when they were ready to move Mr. P out of their lives. They put the soaked corn out in a pie plate, and Mr. P obligingly came and gobbled it down. And seemed fine. Just their luck to get a peacock that could handle his liquor. They put out more corn, and the bird didn't mind if he did, and ate all that. At this point he began to stagger, and wobble, and passed out.
Ralph and Minnie sprang into action. They ran out to the unconscious bird and put a t-shirt on him in order to keep his wings subdued should he wake up. Minnie knotted the hem of the shirt to make sure he was tightly held, and they loaded him in the back of their station wagon and set off for the sanctuary.
All was well for the first hour or two of the trip, and then they heard Mr. P stirring in the back. As they drove on it became obvious that Mr. P was a surly drunk.
Finally they arrived at the sanctuary – only to find it was closed. Minnie nearly burst into tears. Now what?
Ralph told her he had a plan, and this was it: he would carry Mr. P to the high fence of the sanctuary and drop him over the top. Minnie's job would be to remove the t-shirt at the last second. Would the sanctuary people even notice one more peacock?
As Ralph hoisted Mr. P to the top of the fence the bird began to struggle violently. Minnie tried to get the t-shirt off in vain. Mr. P pulled free, tipped over the top of the fence, and fell with a thud to the ground. Ralph and Minnie were horrified. But Mr. P. began to struggle, trying to get up. Ralph and Minnie looked at each other and their two minds were of one accord. They dashed back to the station wagon and lit out of there.
That summer they would go out to their peacock-free patio in the cool of the evening, have glasses of wine, and speculate on what the sanctuary workers must have thought, encountering a hungover peacock in a t-shirt in their enclosure, but of course they would never know. They wished Mr. P all the best, and hoped he had met the peahen of his dreams, but they never went back to find out if he had. That would have been silly.


S. K. said...

Of all the lies I've read already today, I love this one most.

kim said...

I love this story true or not! Although I am hard put to see how it could be two separate stories.

Thank you for sharing your lights with us who trudge along in the dark!

blabrash said...

Mary, I have been beating my brains out trying to find a tape of WW&S that I bought umpteen years ago on Orcas Island when your performed at a private birthday party. I've been serching on the internet and heard that there are still recordings available... could this be blissfully true? You guys were amazing. I need the lyrics to the song about Charles the Cat for a friend... a huge fan... Barbara on Orcas

blabrash said...

PS forgot to check the e-mail box...

JWMcClure said...

Had to read all of these for various reasons. 1. I work with people who give out that information about service dogs everyday. 2. 3rd year of college I was housed with an actual Minnie who was '70 and she had an actual boyfriend named Ralph. She used to tell me she would not marry Ralph because he was made up of tooo many spare parts. 3. We just had dinner with a friend who will probably be soon working at a bird sanctuary and we had some discussion about how birds wind up there. Love the issue of rhymes in the first one. Those online rhyming dictionaries either save my life occasionally or doom me for the verse I'm writing..."You mean nothing else rhymes with it? I think" then I start over.