I would like to consider myself a fair individual. I am not biased. I am not prejudiced. I am... accepting. I believe that beauty can be found in all living things, no matter what they are. With the noteworthy and rather unfortunate exception of the California Condor, a boorish bird that has, in the face of all my compassion, well earned the disdain I afford it.
I have had the distinct "pleasure" of sharing my house with an exceptionally rude Gymnogyps G. californianus for the past three months. I had been looking to rent out one of my rooms in order to alleviate the heavy costs of home ownership. To my eternal regret, I left the search for such an individual to a third party.
My mother, as dear to my heart as she might be, misunderstood the methodology of searching for renters; one, generally speaking, does not host an "open house" and invite all possible renters inside to see the home. Furthermore, an "open house" doesn't mean one must actually open all doors and windows to the outside so that anything can come in, regardless of its capability to pay rent. It was because of this oversight that I, quite unwillingly, became fated to share my living space with a California Condor. The bird had made its way into the master bedroom -- my bedroom. It mussed my bed, shredding my sheets and comforter in the process, and built itself a "cozy nest."
Upon learning this, I became quite angry. I informed my mother that, frankly, I had no desire to share my house with a bird, and I demanded to know why she had let the creature inside. She protested that she hadn't consciously invited it in and, rather, that it had simply flown in through the patio double doors and never left. I attempted to coax the bird out of my room and through one of the windows, but it just shrieked at me angrily. The call of the California Condor is to the songbird as the industrial grade wood chipper is to the delicate harp. Disturbed and frightened by the bird's threatening hisses, I retreated from the room to seek other solutions.
My next step was to call Animal Control; I inquired about removal of the animal by force in return for a sizable reward. They informed me, rather bluntly, that it was impossible for them to do this, not for any amount of money I could offer. The California Condor is apparently an exceedingly rare animal, and when it nests it cannot legally be disturbed. Where it lives, it must be let to live. Without any apparent choice in the matter, I warily assessed my new housemate.
The Condor is a majestic bird, but it is not suited for home life. It might certainly be a sight to see when it takes to the air and beats its massive, muscular wings, but this sense of awestruck appreciation lasts only up to the point where it knocks my drink glasses off the table, shattering them and spilling Sprite everywhere. It is a very, very big bird, and my house is rather modest by comparison. Perhaps it would be better suited to a mansion or some other more spacious abode, but the Condor stubbornly ignores any real estate catalogs I give it, and then it pecks my head.
One is forced to ponder, as I often have, why the bird is so obsessed with living indoors in the first place. The California Condor is, by its natural instinct, not meant for captivity, but rather for soaring high above the Californian foothills, looking for prey by the light of day. My roommate, however, is different. It lurks, shambles, and awkwardly flies through my darkened house. Under cover of night, it makes its way from its nest to my kitchen, and it rummages through the refrigerator. Like its wild brethren, it has no taste for starches and wheat; its stomach screams for meats.
And the beast is without mercy; it will pick and dig through my fridge with its ghastly beak, searching for every scrap of meat, no matter how tiny. The Condor even takes special care to remove the pepperoni from every slice of leftover pizza. It builds itself a heaping pile of meats, and then it begins to gormandize. If, by some miracle, the bird hasn't awakened me by wrenching the refrigerator door open with its talons, or by gracelessly tearing its way through the contents and scattering everything not to its taste, then I'm roused to consciousness by the sound of it glutting itself on my food, choking, hacking, coughing... devouring it all without the slightest regard for my property ownership.
It is hardly surprising in a way; the Condor is, after all, a scavenger. But that doesn't make it excusable, or even tolerable, as proper renter etiquette.
After years of being misunderstood, I had hoped we finally had "our" story. I was wrong.
He had a yellow inflatable tube around his waist, the kind with a comical duck head. There was a tiny fish in one of his hands, and a trident in the other. In the background a squirrel wearing shades was water skiing.
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