Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Calm (emotionally) (09/13/07)
TITLE: Gonzo the Emu Saves the Day
By matthew buchanan
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I stared at the emu. Maybe he was deaf. “Do-you-want-a-piece-of-me?” I repeated.
He did not respond. I guess I was ridiculous to expect an emu to speak. I guess it was ridiculous to take all the frustration of a day—or was it a month or a year?--out on a helpless bird just because it happened to have the audacity to eat my map of the zoo. I guess it was pretty dumb to keep standing toe to toe with the emu while wearing a cap that looked like it might taste good.
Yeah, the emu wanted a piece of me. He wanted my hat. In a second I was hatless on a hot summer day in the middle of the zoo. I was also bald—new development this past year that the doctor had calmly stated was stress-related--and had never been a fan of sunburned scalp. The itching could take weeks to dissipate.
I stared at the emu. The emu stared at me. I could see that what we had, in the words of my psychiatrist, was a failure to communicate. What had I done in the past in similar situations? Throwing stuff didn’t seem like it would be appropriate here. Apart from denting walls and shattering glass heirlooms into little fragments, it hadn’t really worked, ever. Shouting, yelling, screaming like a lunatic—well, I didn’t think it would have any effect on the emu. Those who shout are eventually tuned out by those they most want to influence.
So we sat. I felt my pulse slow down. I noticed that the emu looked a bit like a muppet. What was his name? Gonzo.
“I will call you Gonzo, mighty Eater of Hat,” I said.
And I laughed. Maybe the emu needed the hat more than I did. As I laughed, something broke inside of me. A dam of frustration spilled out in each guffaw until I was emptied of the anger of a failed relationship, the fear of a mysterious health diagnosis, the sorrow of watching your children raised by another.
For the first time in a year, I was calm. And I would’ve thanked the emu, but I knew it wouldn’t do any good.
So I walked away, slowly, before the emu decided he wanted my shirt.
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