True story: on my way home from work Sunday night, I stopped by our favorite local BBQ joint to pick up several heartstopping pounds of various classes of meat (and a quart of cole slaw and a loaf of bread, just to even out the prospective plates to be created from this meal). I did this because, earlier that day, A had put the notion in my head that this should be our dinner, and he is such a ginormous carnophobe — quite literally, he says endearingly wacky things like “I’ve only had three salads this week!” on a regular basis — and he of course had the great fortune of setting up house with a native Texas boy who wholeheartedly believes “hamburger” is one of the four main food groups (and who, natch, believes that lettuce is meant to be nothing more than a crisp, pretty garnish for said hamburger), so whenever he suggests a meal that in any way involves beef, I tend to leap at the chance.
It being the evening of Mother’s Day in the heart of the Lone Star State, I clearly should have been able to predict that the joint would be a mob scene. And indeed, when I stepped inside, I immediately caught sight of a line of folks easily numbering eighty to one hundred, all of them waiting patiently to be fed. I put myself at the back of the line for the moment, but it quickly became clear, after standing there for five full minutes and not moving a centimeter, that no barbecue would land on my plate that night.
Dejected, I headed back out into the parking lot and toward my truck, where I immediately caught sight of a whole new bizarro quandary: while I had been inside sorting out my dinner options, completely out of left field, a living breathing peacock — I swear to Jesus this is the truth! — had emerged and was standing directly before my pickup sniffing my passenger side headlight. It wasn’t difficult to foresee the dilemma awaiting me, as there was a young, goofy couple — each of them clutching their smartphones like they were out to win a prize — standing behind the beast and repeatedly snapping pictures.
I slipped around the cars that were parked next to my truck and came around the side in order to enter my vehicle, praying that I could get inside without being attacked by the damn bird, all the while hoping that the sound of my truck cranking up would startle it enough so that I would be able to make a clean getaway without having to make the ultimate Sophie’s Choice: would I be forced to run over the peacock in order to be able to get home, or would I be forced to sit there and wait until it decided on its own accord to move the hell out of my way? Making matters worse: the aforementioned couple had seen me enter my truck (read: I now had fucking witnesses capable of testifying about whatever choice I would end up making), and the idiot male half of the twosome had begun flailing his arms about like Icarus and yelling, “There’s a peacock in front of your truck! Hey, a peacock! In front of your truck!” I waved back to indicate that I was, in fact, fully aware, and he resumed snapping his photographs, happy as a clam.
I sat there cooling my heels for a couple of minutes, pondering the idea that only in Austin, Texas is foolishness like this even remotely capable of coming to fruition, when suddenly, to my immense relief, I saw the bird’s head slowly start to bob up and down, and his body begun to strut toward the other side of the parking lot. Then I realized what he was walking toward: three more couples had converged on the scene, camera phones in all hands, now blocking my exit entirely. Seemingly left with no other easily identifiable options, I, too, decided to join in the fun: I rolled down the window, grabbed my iPhone, and snapped my own damned picture, which you can see below.
(The wrap-up on the above story: after three or four minutes, the peacock strolled away back toward the wooded area behind the restaurant, without ever fully revealing his evidently impressive plumage, and all the formerly enthralled photographers headed back to their cars and drove away. As for me: dinner that night was grilled chicken, baked mac and cheese, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, and garlic toast, all courtesy of A, who very generously tossed this glorious meal together at the very last minute. Our barbecue feast is slated to occur later this week, on a day yet to be determined, and you’re all invited.)