I love flamingos. I’m not sure why.
Perhaps it’s because they are such an absurd bird. Perhaps it’s because they’re not pink at all – that’s just an effect of their diet, which amuses me. Perhaps it’s because of the place they hold in popular culture; simultaneously a symbol of tropical elegance, and of trashy kitsch.
I love the real ones, stalking through the shallows like pink prehistoric predators, scooping up crustaceans with their hooked beaks. Busily consuming the various carotenoids that give them their rosy hue. I love their jerky, time lapse movements, that melt in an instant to smooth fluidity when they take flight. I love to see them standing on one long leg, the other tucked up under their bodies, heads held high. I love to see them flying, long legs stretched out behind, black wing feathers spread, like soaring good-and-plenty candy against the sky.
I love lawn flamingos, too. They are so completely ridiculous, with their pink plastic bodies posed forever on wire legs, wading through grass shallows. I especially love flocks of lawn flamingos, surreptitiously deposited during the night in the yards of the unsuspecting. Can you imagine waking in the morning to find plastic flamingos have invaded your home? Spectacular!
I love art deco flamingos, perhaps most of all. The geometric angles of their legs paired with their long, sinuous necks made flamingos very attractive to art deco artists. Combine that with their flamboyant coloring, and they became irresistible. You can find them pacing gracefully, or cavorting without a shred of dignity, parading through the bathrooms, cafés, and salons of the 1920s. Such fun!
Perhaps it’s that inherent contradiction in flamingos that I find so appealing. They are at once graceful and awkward, stylish and silly, sophisticated and ludicrous.
I just love them!