A peacock and his girl showed up at my restaurant today. They walked right up to the glass doors and looked in, their beaks tapping ever so slightly on the glass as they wondered why they could walk no further into the clear future. He was quite beautiful with his blue feathers, a sight to behold. She was a faded version of him, smaller yet feistier in spite of her colorless feathers.
“Should we call animal control?” asked my co-worker?
“Will our GM be really angry that they were here and we didn’t?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said.
We looked in silence at the peafowl couple at our door.
“Yeah, well I didn’t call him about water dripping from a light fixture in the ceiling on Sunday, like an idiot that I was, so….” I said.
“Oh yeah, I would have called him about that,” my co-worker said.
“I know. I should have, but I didn’t. It was the end of the night, and it was just a few drips. But now I know I should have called him.” I paused. “I am still so not good with this whole when to call him thing. I call when it doesn’t matter, and I don’t when it does.”
We thought about this for a minute.
“Maybe we should call animal control,” I suggested.
“But they will hurt them trying to catch them,” said my co-worker.
“Oh, no. I don’t think so,” I said. But I didn’t really know for sure, any more than I know when to call my GM when I am supposedly in charge.
And the peafowl continued to hang out at our door. They touched beaks, they walked in unison as if dancing, but never more than a few steps away from our front door. They adored each other, right outside our glass doors.
“I’m calling animal control,” said my co-worker.
“Yeah, maybe you should,” I said. “Then we can call our GM, you know, if they are still here, and tell him we tried to get rid of them.”
But both the wildlife rescue people and the domestic animal control people said they didn’t care about our peafowl couple. “They’re wild and they are free to roam,” both dispatchers said.
“At least I can say I tried,” said my co-worker.
“You tried,” I agreed. And I was secretly glad no one cared about our peafowl. Because they were enormous and beautiful and at our door, an exotic sight to behold.
I remembered I had finally remembered to bring my camera to work, so I went outside the glass doors and snapped 53 photos of the peafowl couple. They were not the least afraid of me. Indeed, they almost posed for me. I could have stroked their beautiful feathers, because they were just that tame.
“You’re taking so many pictures,” remarked my co-worker.
“Out of a hundred photos I take, two might be great,” I told her.
“Right,” she said, not at all convinced.
“Right,” I said, knowing I would be lucky if any of the photos I took of this peafowl couple came out. The light was as horrible as they were easy to shoot.
Soon, it was time to open our doors for lunch, peafowl couple hanging about or not.
And we smirked and laughed as we witnessed an interesting experiment in human behavior unfold before our glass doors: To a person, every man who approached was wary or downright scared of the peafowl couple. A group of three such men actually backed up, turned around and went to the carryout next door. To a person, every woman who approached snapped a photo of the colorful couple with her cell phone.
It dawned on me that if we were to have our usual lunch crowd, I would have to stand by the glass doors and shoo the peafowl couple aside to let the men in. The women, of course, walked in without this assistance.
“They’re so aggressive,” remarked one man. “You have to be careful with them.”
“They are so beautiful!” remarked one woman. “How on earth did you get them to stay here?”
“This is the best lunch in a long, long time,” said my co-worker. “The peacock and his mate are so funny!”
I remembered the last time I saw a flock of peafowl, and how I thought they were a good-luck omen, and how I met the boy not long after, and how they ended up seeming to be a sad, terrible omen–if they were an omen at all.
“You know, it kind of is a great lunch,” I agreed. Because omen or symbol or portent of whatever is or isn’t to come next, it was very cool to have these exotic creatures hanging about with us at our glass doors.
Still, our guests remained divided about the goodness of our peafowl.
“Don’t you think you should get rid of them?” asked more than one man.
“Will you keep them?” asked more than one woman.
“We should name them,” I told my co-worker.
“Yes, really pretty names,” said my co-worker.
A quick Google search revealed that the peacock is the national bird of India. Another search revealed a host of names that might befit our peafowl couple. We settled on Prem for the peacock and Priya for the peahen, which, according to the Google site upon which I landed first, mean “Love” and “Beloved.”
And just as we named them, they left us, turning away from our glass doors, walking together down the busy street in front of our restaurant, toward the inlet.
“Oh, I hope no one hits them,” lamented my co-worker as we watched a Hummer swerve to avoid them.
“I have a feeling this pair knows the streets,” I said. “No one would dare hit them.”
Tonight, another wine-and-smokes party unfolded in front of my solid white door. I drank too much wine and smoked too many cigarettes on a mostly empty stomach that only had a piece of provolone cheese, a handful of cashews, three french fries and a hamburger patty topped with cheese consumed at 5 p.m. to act as a counterbalance. I was totally trashed by 11 p.m.
“Hey, what are you doing in here?” laughed my neighbor girlfriend as she walked through my unlocked door and plopped down in one of my chairs. She was immediately followed by one of The Fraternity, who, it turns out, is an insightful, sensitive, bright young man who I might–might–allow RG Daughter to meet.
“I am drunk and done,” I told them. “And I think I may just have hit the bottom of all nights of the entire year I have been here.”
“No!” said my neighbor girlfriend.
“Man, I am sorry,” said the not-so-annoying member of The Fraternity.
“Yeah, so I am going to throw you both out,” I slurred, wondering as well if this might be the first night of my life that I might throw up from drinking too much wine on an empty stomach.
And then they left me, walking together through my solid white door and out onto our shared balcony.
I pulled my blanket around me and lay down on my sofa with the pup. As the room spun and I was afraid to close my eyes for fear of being sick, I remembered the peafowl couple and the fun they had provided at lunch and how worried we were when they left us, walking their haphazard, clumsy walk away from the glass doors of my restaurant.
When I awoke a few hours later, I felt almost normal. I scarfed a couple of cheese and crackers and drank a bottle of water. I saw on my cell that my girlfriend neighbor had texted me, twice:
“Ur beautiful smart n funny hes an idiot”
“The best is yet to come and hes out there waiting for u Ur going to be great again youll see”
Indeed, I have somehow stumbled to the bottom of whatever it was I set out to do here in this year, and I am not so sure if peacocks, peahens or well-intentioned neighbors know just how low that is. Which means, I guess, it’s all up from here. At least I hope that’s why the handsome peacock and his beautiful mate magically arrived at my restaurant and allowed me to be so close to them on this day. Maybe this time the omen will get it right.