THE BIRDS OF PARADISE
Once a bird of paradise answered a personal ad in a highbrow singles magazine. The ad read: “Successful and witty bird of paradise, emotionally mature and radiating deep comfort with self, down-to-earth but with a complex and multi-layered take on life, passionate yet spiritual, urban Taoist, intuitive altruistic iconoclast considered a superb raconteur by friends seeks a soulmate who must be equally dynamic in mind and body, an accomplished and financially secure professional by day but a spontaneous bon vivant by night, passionate about haute cuisine and long walks in the rain forest, able to rise above this world of pettiness that surrounds us to focus on the big picture while remaining attuned to the piquant beauty of the mundane, in short, a partner who is ready to leave the planet a better place through the enchanted mix of our own wild and wonderful spirits. Serious inquiries only.” The bird of paradise, having written a letter identifying itself as the soulmate described, received a reply the very next day. Photographs were exchanged and a meeting set. It seemed like a perfect match. Over a candlelight dinner, the two lost no time in displaying what they considered their most appealing qualities. “I’m HIV Negative, and you?” “Of course.” “Good then. I’ve just returned from Paris, by the way.” “Me, from Tokyo.” “And I’m off next week for Kathmandu.” “Machu Picchu here.” “I’m a jazz and opera aficionado, in that order.” “Opera and jazz.” “What about world music? “Of course.” “Cannes Film Festival?” “I prefer Sundance.” “Greenpeace and the Sierra Club?” “Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International.” “Harvard, Yale, MIT.” “Stanford, Berkeley, Cal Tech.” “Derrida, Foucault, Barthes.” “Really? Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs.” “Derrida, Foucault, Barthes, and Lacan.” “Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs, and Bowles.” “Shall we order Burgundy?” “Chardonnay?” And so it went. By the end of the evening, the two birds of paradise realized they’d made a dreadful mistake. They agreed to “chalk the whole thing up to experience” and went their separate ways. Both were confident they could do better the next time they sought a soulmate worthy of their affections.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans