Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Further adventures of Fannie Flamingo

With all the attention focused on the fifth anniversary of September 11th, I realized there are a lot of people who aren't aware of Fannie's contributions that day. So, it's time for an update of the many adventures of Fannie Flamingo. If you are new to my blog you will want to go to the archives to my entries on July 4-25th for the beginning of the story. Otherwise, you might suspect I am mentally deranged. Well, you probably will think that anyway.

But first, I have to catch you up to date. When we left the adventures of the Flamingo Family they were still looking for her. She had gone to Guatemala and disappeared. My kids had a lot of fun e-mailing me kidnapping and ransom notes. But none of it really told what had happened to Fannie.

For over a year and a half I had no idea what had happened to her. And I began to worry when I received a photo of her from our Young Adult Volunteer in Guatemala, Mamie Broadhurst. Mamie wrote that she was very concerned about Fannie and I could see why by the photo:


Just a few months later I received the following letter from Fannie on her very proper letterhead. Fannie is very particular with her stationary and insists on having fine stationary with embossed lettering.



Fannie G. Flamingo
Betty Ford Center
Rancho Mirage, California
September 24, 2000

Dear Jane:

It’s hot and dry here in California just like the Guatemalan highlands. If it wasn’t for the MacDonalds a couple of blocks down the street, I would think I had never left. And I am definitely not in Guatemala anymore. Though, for the life of me I cannot exactly remember how I left that country. It’s been a long trip.

I know you’ve been worried and I apologize. I’m a little worried too because a lot of it I can’t remember myself.

I’m surprised Harold hasn’t told you about Jose, his ne’er-do-well cousin in Guatemala. He’s the one I met in the hospital. I had picked out a little girl to go home with but Jose promised me all sorts of fantastic adventures.

He invited me to journey with him all over the country cheering people up in hospitals and orphanages but I found out soon enough this was a bunch of bunk. He was all show and no go, just like you predicted. He would only hang around during a visit long enough to have his picture made and then he was out of there. He didn’t care anything about the patients. He spent most of his time drinking margaritas and smoking dope. Pretty soon I was so fed up with him that I started drinking and doping too. In just a couple of weeks I was broke.
I tried to locate Harold but he had already left the country in your luggage. I met Harold briefly at a family dinner that Jose took me to one evening. I think they are related through a very distant relative…a Macaw, I believe. Harold and Jose are both Toucans and look exactly alike but that’s the only resemblance. Jose turned out to be a horrible bird and Harold is just a saint; I know Clarice will be very happy with him.

When I couldn’t find Harold I tried backpacking my way home (That’s when the parakeets you met at the Casa Guastatoya saw me.) But Guatemala is such a poor country there was never a way to get even a few centavos ahead. I needed to have at least two days worth of birdseed to make it across Mexico.

It was so easy to get free booze and smokes in the bars I just fell into oblivion. I tend to stand out in a crowd and people were always interested in buying me all the wrong substances. I’m not sure exactly what went on for almost a year. It’s all a blur. I don’t think I want to know. I only know I have a tattoo that reads “Free Elian” under my left wing. I have no idea how I got it.
I finally heard about a job at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. I was supposed to greet the guests at curbside and welcome them to the hotel. It sounded right up my alley. They even paid my airfare to the US. But when I got there I found out they wanted a six-foot flamingo. I may not be as petite as a parakeet but I’m certainly not that big nor are any real flamingoes I know. They ended up hiring a man in a costume. I say good for him. It’s hot enough in Las Vegas in the summer in just feathers but a felt costume would have been unbearable. (Even though I do have a little fluffing thing I can do to cool off and it helps some.)

Well, that left me in an even more dangerous place with even less money and more temptations available. It was straight downhill then. Now I had gambling to add to the other vices: drugs, booze, sex and shoplifting (I can hide a 23” TV under each wing)

The final sad night I had visions of Robert Downey, Jr dancing the Bunny Hop on my ceiling. Then, at the end of the dance Robert leaned over and gently grasped my wing and said in a very somber and sincere voice: “Fannie, it’s time to seek help.” We went together that very evening and checked into the Betty.

And now, here I am. I’m a little tired right now. It’s late and I’ve been taking flamenco lessons. There’s a famous Spanish guitarist here but I’m not allowed to reveal his name. I’m going to bed now and I’ll write more later.

Your friend,

Fannie Flamingo
As soon as Fannie came home we had a huge party and parade and there was fun all around. Fannie danced the Flamenco for us and Francine made Great Granny Fannie’s famous Seven Seed Souffle.

We sat around the kitchen table to hear her stories.

She told us all about helping out in the Occupational Therapy classes at The Betty when they made birdhouses. Fannie, being an expert, could tell them each bird’s likes and dislikes. She’s never lived in a birdhouse herself but she knows a LOT of sparrows and was able to tell the class to always include some air holes (no stuffy houses) and add a little perch on the front porch.

All this time I kept hoping Fannie would find a nice eagle and settle down. Eagles are so stable, you know. Fannie always seems to be attracted to the wrong kind. An eagle would be nice, don’t you think?

After the election in November she was invited by both presidential camps to take part in what each expected would be their candidates inaugural parade. I watched the parade and there she was: with Big Bird and Barney on a float for children. Fannie loves parades so I was glad to see her.

When all the dust settled I received her letter, again on finely embossed stationary:


Fannie G. Flamingo
Childrens Television Network
New York City, New York


February 14, 2001
Valentines Day

Dear Jane:

What a wild ride this has been! First, Betty Ford contacted me about the parade. She and I have become very close from my being at the clinic, you know. She said everybody she had talked to in the Republican Party wanted me to ride in the parade. But then Tipper Gore, an old friend from a photography class I once took called and said that they felt sure the results would declare Al the winner and she wanted me in the parade. Both parties had remarkably similar ideas for my talents, though I can’t say I agreed with them.

They had me on a float with a bunch of cartoon characters like Barney (you wouldn’t believe how dumb that guy is) and Mickey Mouse (kept trying to run his hand through my feathers).
I really wanted to represent the missionaries to Guatemala but no one thought that was exciting enough for the crowd. Again, all they could see was my bright pink plumage, not my tender heart or analytical brain.

So, there I was on the float when I met the love of my life: Big Bird. We hit it off immediately. Everyone thinks of him as a six year old child, when he’s actually more my age and size.

We have such fun together. Singing all the time. Counting to Ten. Dancing to the songs we sing. Counting some more.

So, here it is Valentines Day and my life is sure looking good. It looks like I may have an acting career ahead of me, either in TV or Broadway. The Bush administration was also pleased with my work in the parade and they said they might call on me from time to time, maybe for the annual eggroll on the White House lawn at Easter.

Big Bird got me a job with “Suessical.” I was only in the musical a few days before it closed but it was enough to find out that I really love acting. I may try out for “Lion King”… I hear they have great costumes, too. I usually don’t need a costume if I can find the right play. In the meantime Bird got me a job here on Sesame Street. I specialize in birdseed recipes and the letter “F”.

Your friend,

Fannie

I didn’t hear from Fannie for months. I assumed she was so much in love with Big Bird that she didn’t think of me. They said they were “engaged” but, if you ask me, they were just living in sin. I knew Francine could whip a beautiful wedding together in a couple of days if Fannie asked. Big Bird’s publicist didn’t want their living arrangements to get around and called me to ask my cooperation.

Then I received the following letter, again on fine stationary. However, by this time she was changing addresses so fast, she wasn’t buying the finely embossed type anymore.


Fannie G. Flamingo
American Red Cross
New York City, New York

September 18, 2001

Dear Jane:

Why is it I have such bad taste in men? First that toucan in Guatemala that led me into such trouble. Then I fell in with a yellow goof-off. All that bird wanted to do was play all day. Sing, dance and play. Sing, dance and play. That’s all he ever did. And count. Do you have any idea how boring it is to spend the whole evening singing the alphabet and counting to ten? And he would get so excited every time he made it to ten. I’ve just got to find a man with a little depth.
I turned in my resignation to Sesame Street. Like everyone else in America, my life changed dramatically on September 11th.

The minute I heard about the collapse of the World Trade Center I went to help. You know I’ve always been a bird to pitch in and do her part. There was so much dust! Everything around me was gray. It was hard to make your way around and easy to get lost in all the gray dust. I guess my bright pink feathers stood out and people could see me more easily than anything else because they kept asking me for directions to the Brooklyn Bridge. I worked a little on the rescue efforts at the site until the professionals got a handle on it. Then I brewed coffee and made sandwiches for the others.

After a couple of days I got a call from Mayor Giuliani. He said he had a special assignment for me. It doesn’t get much attention since it’s pretty minor compared to most of the stories you hear from New York.

There have been an awful lot of pigeons displaced by the loss of the towers. 110 stories high was prime real estate in the pigeon world and now both of those gorgeous towers are gone. I’m helping to find new rooftops for the displaced birds of New York. Most have gone to the Empire State Building but some have been so traumatized that they’ve asked me to help them relocate to other cities-- the Sears Tower in Chicago or the Space Needle in Seattle.

Jane, could you do me a favor and check into the Hyatt Regency Tower in Dallas? These pigeons love heights but they are just too nervous about New York right now and would prefer a less volatile city. I only need space for about 200 or so birds. I have a mixture of pigeons and grackles and, believe it or not, a couple of eagles. (And, no, they don’t want to go to DC, even if they are eagles. They have a whole lot of friends at the Pentagon who are also looking for new homes.) The grackles are about to migrate so I’m not too worried about them. It’s the pigeons I’m mostly working on.

Your friend,

Fan

And now it's been five years and I'm pleased to say that my friend has been working on the Displaced Pigeon Project tirelessly in those five years. I still bump into her when I travel because Fannie is a bird who gets around. She continues to pop in and out of my life but is always at work on finding homes for the World Trade Center pigeons. A bird with a mission.

No comments: