Sunday, June 3, 2007


My husband didn't tell me about him before we married.

I guess he assumed he didn't need to, that I'd like him as much as he did, since we had so many other things in common... But, Dwayne really should have had more foresight because his brightly colored, four foot tall, life sized, to scale, blow up, Emperor penguin has been a source of contention since the first apartment we shared as newlyweds.

As we were moving in, Dwayne eagerly pulled the over sized toy out of a box of his treasures, blew him up and tried to set him in the corner of our living room. I still remember the look of horror on his face when Dwayne saw the look of horror on my face and realized I really wasn't kidding, I didn't like the bird and it couldn't sit out in the open.

We've compromised again and again and the penguin has followed us from one dwelling to another, living in our spare bedrooms, closets and even staying in my elementary classroom for a time. My students loved him. And, when the penguin was unpacked at this house, I already had the perfect spot for him. The bird occupied a basement corner near our oil tank and served to keep our daughter Norah entertained while I loaded and unloaded the washer and dryer. I would have taken a knife to him long ago, but I am a submissive wife, of sorts, and all I can do in good conscience is ask Dwayne, every so often, if I can find a new home for "Napolean."

That's the name we came up with sometime ago: Napolean. It fits, since he's an Emperor and he is also short. History records that the great emperor was a littler man. I asked Dwayne one more time if the bird could "go away" when I was organizing our most recent tag sale (a.k.a.yard sale down south) and he gave me the same "No" I always get, so I dropped it. But, I put Napolean out in the yard for the sale anyway. The picture above was taken that day. I didn't put him out so he'd be sold, honestly, but so he could get some fresh air and function as a conversation piece for our neighbors. So, I was completely surprised when my husband yelled, "Hun! Come say goodbye to Napolean!"

Two college aged boys had pulled up to the sale to look over all the junk and once they saw Napolean, they said, "He's so cool! How much is he?" Dwayne smarted off something like, "Oh, he's not for sale. He's family. Holds a special place in my heart. ...But, I think a twenty dollar bill would fill that special place just as well." He never expected them to pay that much, but one of the boys pulled out a twenty dollar bill without hesitation. And so, Naploean was sold!

I ran to say my goodbyes and made the new owner promise to keep him at least five years into his own marriage, and then, only hand him over to another worthy young man who would promise to use the penguin to challenge the integrity, strength of purpose, character, will, self-control and discipline of his wife, in much the same manner the bird had always tested mine.

Napolean went away in the backseat of a macked-out PT Cruiser with the windows down and the music blaring. The guys who bought him waved and yelled, "We'll take good care of him!" as they pulled away. I swear there was smile on the bird's face. I hope Napolean shows up in those boys' cherished photos of their youthful days. He deserves it. By the way, that twenty dollars didn't go into the tag sale's money box. Dwayne kept it for himself. I suppose he earned it.

(I wrote this several years ago and it was published on another one of my blogs previously.)