August 22, 2009 10:48:00 PM
Monday evening my "barkler" alarm went off, full force. This signal can mean that some strange person has dared to walk in front of our house, or that one of the neighbor''s cats is sauntering across the porch, clearly invading their doggy territory.
My two canine daughters kept barking, drawing me from the kitchen and my dinner preparations. I flicked on the porch light and opened the door. There stood a smiling woman who handed me a note printed on rose-colored paper. "You''ve Been Flocked!" it announced.
In my yard were thirteen plastic, pink flamingos, with curved yellow and black beaks. It appeared as if they had landed en masse, and were quite happily "grazing" on the lawn. The birds, scattered randomly, faced in all directions.
"We''ll come back tomorrow to remove them," explained the woman sheepishly. Her teenage accomplice jumped into their getaway van and slammed the door. They obviously had little experience in "vandalism."
"Oh, but I love them!" I told her. "You can leave them as long as you want to."
Flamingos, particularly the plastic species, have come in and out of favor with stylish Americans. In the late 1950s they were prized lawn ornaments. The concept was, that to this country''s new suburbanites, the birds'' bright color and exotic lineage made a pre-fab, boxy house seem like a tropical estate. Oh well, so much for the sophistication of mid-century modern.
Alas, only a few years later, unreal fauna was as passé as poodle skirts and Gidget movies. By the time John Waters released the movie "Pink Flamingos" in 1972, they were kitsch -- part tacky, part cool.
However, in some circles, the blush never faded on the leggy fowl. I once owned flamingo-shaped earrings (pink plastic, of course) and wore them until they fell apart. In New Orleans, I had a friend who fashioned a kind of headboard from the lawn ornaments. She put two, facing each other, against the wall above her bed. The arrangement created a sort of heart shape, with the arched necks. She now sets up photo shoots for an advertising agency. This career path surely speaks of her taste, offbeat perhaps, but sharp. Now the birds have come full circle, like Pez dispensers; trendy, artsy, collectable.
But, Columbus is not known for fads, fashionable or otherwise. We are more classic in our decor choices. I doubt if lawns of flamingos were ever a local craze.
So, from where did my flock fly? Not far; they fluttered from St. Paul''s Episcopal Church, as a fundraiser for the youth group''s summer projects.
The idea is that homeowners would pay for flamingo removal. I wonder if others were as glad to receive them as I was? That sort of defeats the purpose.
As it turned out, my flocking was instigated by Sid Caradine, sometimes known as Major Amzi Love. He also paid for their removal, probably because he knew that I was too kooky to object to a yard filled with flamingos and would have left them there forever.
It''s not too late to "flock" your friends. The flamingos are still flying all over town, for a small fee, of course. Call Kelly Brown at St. Paul''s (662-574-6286) for details. But, hurry -- they may soon depart for Florida and points south.
This zany "fun" raiser really made me smile. How often do we get the opportunity to lift a friend''s spirits? I wish my flock had not flown away so soon. Maybe someone should tell those wildly-colored birds that Columbus has very mild winters.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.