Saturday, April 7, 2012

Gregarious

my A to Z - every day of the challenge I will find a word by flinging my finger into my American Heritage Dictionary and then riff on it. The posts may be essays or poems or stories or memories. Who knows what will happen when we give Serendipity her wanton way?

Gregarious -  adj. 1. Tending to move in or form a group, as a herd, pack, or flock, with others of the same kind.
The Latin term it comes from means belonging to a flock.

The woman was wearing her black bathing suit - a simple maillot. She wore a baseball cap - it was black too and was stitched with golden lettering - Stay Hungry - which she thought was the title of a heavy metal album by Twisted Sisters. She'd found it in the classroom she taught in at university and had been happy to take it home.  Her friends didn't think it was 'appropriate' but she did. She wanted to stay hungry - she liked the kids she taught and their intensity, their search for tribe and disdain for those who were at the fat centre.
But now. Now she was on holidays in Florida. Her friends were sitting under an umbrella, reading paperbacks and sipping bottled water and she...she was sneaking up on pelicans. They'd let her get pretty close the first day - she'd swam as quietly as possible -trying to be like them, quietly bobbing on the waves a little bit out from the beach. Just hanging together companionably, their faces looking so serious. She thought of her dog back home and then of her guy. They both had that same look - the look that life was bearable but serious. She just wanted to get close to them, to see if they would accept her. She wasn't wearing the hat because she thought it mimicked their long bills, though it did. She wore it because she was a red-head, or had been, now she was a silver-head - not nearly as wondrous. She really couldn't tolerate too much sun so she'd been swimming with a hat for years.
Oh, one of them swivelled his great long face with its pendulous lower beak towards her. She tried to look calmly at him, as if she were just a rather weird part of the flock but it was hard not to wave. Was she turning into a batty old lady? Perhaps, she thought, but shag it!
The pelican turned from her and she realized that it needed to look sideways at her - that birds had to swivel their heads to see what was in front of them. She tread water with as little motion as possible and moved imperceptibly closer. Was it working? Was this going to be the day she was accepted into the flock?
Just a few more strokes and she'd be close - five feet away at most. Just as she started to make that final approach one of her pals shouted from the beach. "We're going up to the restaurant - want to come?"
The flock rose at the noise and she was left, alone again.

14 comments:

Jude said...

Love it!

Margot Kinberg said...

Jan - Oh, what a moment! She is, for just that shade of a second, a member of two flocks. How really well-written! And I like the 'photo of the pelican, too. We see them sometimes where I live; they're interesting birds.

Clarissa Draper said...

Nice story! And I just love that photo.

Jan Morrison said...

Thanks guys - the photograph was taken with a crap camera but when I was in Florida a few years ago - I LOVE pelicans and most of this story is true...

Jennifer Lane said...

Oh, she just wanted to be part of the pack! Stupid friend. ;) The message on her baseball hat made me wonder if she had an eating disorder!

Jan Morrison said...

nah - I just couldn't remember the Heavy Metal name that was on the actual one!

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, I LOVE the idea of trying to become part of a pelican flock! They are such fascinating birds. And it reminds me of a silly poem my dad used to say.

And amazing bird is the pelican.
It's beak can hold more than its belly can.
But I don't know how in the hell 'e can.

Jaycee DeLorenzo said...

Great, informative post. We really are doing something similar! Thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday!

Tracy said...

interesting concept of being a part of a flock-it makes me wonder about individuals...we all have strong desires to be part of a flock :)

SharleneT said...

Hello, Fellow Challenger. I'm #408 from Rockin' Chair Reflections. Come visit when you can. My youngest daughter needed to be a part of the flock – any flock. Probably, because she was not the firstborn and had her sister in her room with her from the beginning. Very interesting post. Thank you.

judysnwnotes said...

The tension - will she, will she .... Oh, darn those friends! Gripping and fun

Elizabeth Twist said...

This is gorgeous!

Here via A-Z.

A-Z @ Elizabeth Twist

Joyce Shor Johnson said...

Love your method of selecting your daily a to z challenge post! I love the gregarious.

http://thewritejoyce.blogspot.com
a to z challenge

Patricia Stoltey said...

I never thought of myself as gregarious until I started hanging out with writers.