Thursday, February 16, 2012




    They gathered on a polar ice cap, the largest mass where they hold their Annual Ice Cold Balls. Penguins dance, to be sure, and they love the chance to “dress to the nines” and have a popping penguin time.

    On the night of the big day (which was hard to determine since they were in the third month of Thursday) all the waddle-walkers came out to play. All in their penguin finery the formal affair began. The fellas in their black ties and tails. The ladies in their Dolce & Penguana gowns.

    But the group was divided. The females fidgeted near the Polar Bear Bandstand. The males were much distracted, save for one solitary bird. Alan was new on this ‘berg. He couldn’t understand that with all the penguin pulchritude present, the guys had wandering eyes.

    “Where are you going?” Alan asked.

    “Back to the Ice Bar. There’s a hockey game on!” replied one of the like dressed brethren.

    “But, what about the soiree?” Alan pursued.

    “Pittsburgh is playing! Besides, those penguins by the band, they… look different” interjected a second penguin.

    “We all look the same, but they are… bright and colorful. Not very penguin-like at all” chimed in the third.

    Alan turned toward the ladies and they blushed at his interest. For indeed, they DID look different. Not restricted, as were the guys in their black tie and tail tuxedos. They were regaled in beautiful gowns of every color of the spectrum. Each as gorgeous as the next!

    “They look pretty good to me” Alan remarked turning back to the gents.

    But, his brothers were absorbed in the game. It was the mob mentality in full bloom. Alan couldn’t hide his disappointment.

    “Ah, go suck an icicle!” Alan reprimanded, waving a large flipper in their direction.

    And turning his back on his mates, Alan headed toward the brightly dressed throng of females.

    “Any of you lovely ladies care to dance?” Alan called.

    Every lady penguin to the last, waddled up to Alan. They were flapping their flippers and shifting from foot-to-foot. Alan was surrounded and he loved it, dancing with each remaining one. They had an extraordinary time. Pittsburgh lost the hockey game. Alan took all the ladies back to his igloo for a nightcap where they would party the rest of Thursday away.

    There is a moral to our story: In this world of blatant sameness, choose to be different and never pass up the chance to dance!

    1. Great moral and story. The pretty ones always do outshine us in our tuxes. And I will take dancing with them (well, one of them in particular) over hockey any day!

    2. Oh, hilarious! Great story, Walt. :)

    3. Love the playfulness and the moral of the story, Walt. It would be a great picture book!


    Carnegie Hall. How I got to this stage, still amazes me.

    I was just like any other teenage boy. My interest was in girls, not piano lessons. I wanted to hang out behind the school, not within its walls. I wanted to stand out and be different, yet I wanted to blend in.

    Mom and I had our battles – she let me dress in the “death clothes” as she described them (all black), as long as I continued piano lessons. I pushed the limits on skipping class, but always knew the important days to be there to not miss tests. Or movie days. Or field trips.

    One particular day I will never forget – our class went to the zoo. We joined the crush of people making their way through the park. I wondered about the especially large crowd at one exhibit and the sparse, spread-out crowd around the next.

    The larger crowd was oohing and ahhing over a single animal – the polar bear. It lumbered across the rocks and dove into the water. Children and adults were mesmerized watching this single bear.

    The next exhibit was the penguins. I stood and watched them. Like the crowd in the zoo, they moved en masse. They all looked the same. Doing the same thing. Next to me, a little girl tugged at her mother’s sleeve and said, “They all look the same, Mommy. Can we go back to the polar bear?”

    Standing in the wings, hearing my name being introduced and the ensuing applause, I chuckle at the irony of wearing a “penguin suit,” and marvel at the day my eyes were opened all those years ago.


    It was Sunday afternoon at the mall. My daughter and I were walking the halls giving my wife some time to shop. As with most children, she was full of questions. When she grew bored with my explanations of products in windows, and my evasions on the subject of scantily clad mannequins, she started noticing people.

    "Daddy, why do they dress that way? And do that to their bodies?

    "Who are you....? Oh, them." Managing to stop her finger from pointing right at the group of goth wannabe bad asses. They were the usual harmless teenage crowd with colored hair, piercings and a tattoo or two thrown in here and there.

    "Well, they are trying to express their individuality"

    "What is indi...indavid... what does that mean?"

    "Hmm. They are trying to show that they are unique; different from the crowd; maybe a little rebellious."

    "But," she said, sounding a little confused. "They all look alike."

    1. The innocence of children...and the profundity! :)

    2. Great use of conversation, Mark, really adds a lot of movement in your story. :)

  4. We are sleek and invisible, like undercurrents in the ocean. We work as one. We are one. We are one under the blue sky and the white ice.

    We are one, until the leopard seal, with his head below water. He is the absence of vibration, a dead space in a room of music. Who would dare put his toe in first? Who’s feathers will first disturb the icy calm?

    “Not mine,” says he.

    “Not I,” says she.

    “I need my blood.” “My chicks are not grown.” “I am old and tired and have done much.”

    His lurking fangs fracture us. We are not one, we are not “us,” we are “you,” we are “me.” We are not one another.

    Only fractured could this thing happen – the single beak like a knife in the back, the splattering of loud, provocative sound, cold and sharp, splashing like blood against ice. A single scream.

    And then, we are one again. We forget. We go on.

    1. Eep! I think I will keep my toes out of the water!

    2. Really nice, ina, I love this description..."We are one, until the leopard seal, with his head below water. He is the absence of vibration, a dead space in a room of music."

  5. ~ CHANCE-LESS ~

    Still and silent, I'm dreaming, growing feathers, beak, and wings for swimming. I hear shrill voices infiltrating my dreams. I sense my father close to me. Gravity defying, I balance in a ball, an egg atop his flipper-ed feet.

    The wind is horrendously loud. I can almost feel the icy brashness of it biting at the ivory of this thick yet climate fragile egg. I wait intently listening.

    Father's stomach rumbles with intense hunger as he waits for return of my mother. She is coming with my meal in her gullet. She'll arrive in time to feed me before I fail.

    Or so I thought, it is what father proclaims on my arrival. Breaking free from egg, I struggle to stay warm neath his downy, round belly. Hunger is becoming unbearable. I'll wait for her as long as I can.

    They found her with a plastic six-pack, rack-holder round her neck, asphyxiated. Her lifeless body floated, dragged to and fro on the ebb and flow of the tide that was to bring her home to me.

    1. Oh, that's so sad! I wish people who are so careless with their trash could see this story and realize what they are doing to the world.

  6. Thank you, ina, for your comment. I agree.