What you looking at?
Like most disasters this story started with a miscommunication. Driving down the highway I saw a roadside sign for an Ostrich Factory, I glanced at Jen enquiringly, she scowled, shook her head and then said firmly “No”. In the ancient manly tradition of misunderstanding I took this to mean she was keen to check it out. As I turned at that fork, life’s path changed, I am no longer allowed within a hundred feet of an ostrich in the sovereign state of South Africa.
Its not what it looks like!
Sometimes you just have to front up to your shame early and tear it off like a plaster. There is no easy way to say this… but it’s not what you think! Yes I know I look a little sheepish… damn it… why did I have to bring up sheep. Anyway, I digress; I’ll return to the beginning, you all deserve a full account of how I found myself in this compromising position.
Pulling into the Ostrich Farm I excitedly rushed us over to look at the giant birds. As I took this snap of Jen something about the tense set of her shoulders finally flipped off that innate (And fatally delayed) warning sense that all men possess. In a moment of stunning clarity I realised I was in the shit… she actually meant it when she said she had zero desire to go to an Ostrich Factory. Who could have guessed it?
Making an ass of himself.
I tried to console her by saying that life could be worse she could have an ASShole boss like this poor donkey. Even lame humour didn’t work.
If feather boas could kill.
As we made our way from intensely boring boa construction (This is much more dull than Boa constriction) to the egg-painting factory to the feather sorting plant I got more and more uncomfortable. Jen had been right this tour totally sucked. In fact it was the worst tour I had ever been on, I was never going to live it down. Then things changed and everything got much worse.
Moment of Truth.
All there! Happily counting her fingers.
As we made it to the live Ostrich section of the tour my humiliation truly started. I caught Jen in this great moment of utter terror as the she fed the mammoth birds. I laughed so hard it hurt and then a light switched on as I realised that I had to feed the bloody things as well. That’s when the fear set it and the shame started.
As I nervously eyed the avian equivalent of Andre the Giant I started to appreciate a few facts that I had failed to consider. The first was this was a monstrous bloody bird. The second was his beak was around about the perfect size to peck off my precious fingers. Lastly I got a chance to look into the eyes of the mighty beast. As I gazed through the windows of his birdy soul I could read with absolute clarity that he was evil. A terrible malevolent bird that wanted nothing more than to eat my fingers. I was terrified, so much so I could barely make myself attempt to feed him. This is what happened.
Yes I humiliated myself, in a particularly unmanly way, and was shown up by my much braver girlfriend. I could see the evil glint in Jen's eyes 1- 0 to her; she was ready to make me pay for taking this stupid tour. I nursed my shame as our guide Jaco led us to the next bird experience and was determined to do better next time.
Guantanamo los Grande Pollos.
Opening a gate Jaco turned and faced us. “Ok we are going to go into this breeding pairs nest to stand on their eggs”. Gazing at the rest of the group I saw the same level of mute misunderstanding that I felt. However, we automatically set ourselves to the highest level of morality and intellectualism that tour group dynamics allow. Nodding vacantly we spoke as one “OK”.
Jaco informed us we need not fear molesting the pair’s nest, all 52 kilos of him, grabbed a thorn bush twice his height “I’ll whack the birds if they cause trouble” he informed us. I figured that was worth a picture. Jaco was quite flattered and obliging submitted to pose for photo.
However, as I idly snapped my throw away photo I noticed the beginnings of a real story looming up behind Jaco’s unsuspecting back. “Hey Jaco, turn your face a little more into the light” I said. “Of course “said a beaming Jaco.
By this stage I knew that youtube fame and fortune were about to be mine if I could just keep Jaco distracted. “One hundred and forty five kilo bird teaches midget molester a lesson” It was to good to be true. “Look over your right shoulder and look fierce” I implored Jaco. “No problem” he gushed.
Despite my Machiavellian attempts at cosmic karmic justice the mighty ostrich let me down. Sure Jaco probably had to change his pants after noticing the grim cheeper looming over his shoulder. But I never got my video and fame. Why have I built you guys up to this lame end? Well its simple really, if I had to suffer the disappointment of Jaco’s survival, I see you no reason why you shouldn’t as well.
To show big bird my disappointment I stomped on his eggs.
Jen is much better at walking on egg shells than me.
The next stage of the tour came as somewhat of a surprise, things seemed to be spiralling out of control, one moment I was observing feather boa construction and a few minutes later I’d been humiliated, stomped on eggs and was expected to ride an Ostrich.
Can you tell the difference between these two?
Jenny attempted to mentally prepare for the riding challenge by channelling Ostrich in this startlingly accurate imitation.
Just an innocent platonic pat to calm my nerves.
Which leads me to my fully legitimate and 100% legal reason for molesting the bird as seen above. It really wasn’t what it looked like! I was just… bonding with the bird pre awfully risky riding experience.
Ok you got me. There’s just no excuse for that.
Jaco ruined what would have been one of my favourite photos. Bird wrangling with a Sheppard’s crook. This place really did seem to get more and more like Guantanamo Bay with every moment. Then there was no more time for excuses I mounted my faithful Ostrich… wait let me rephrase that… I got on an Ostrich to give it a ride… hang on… oh I give up.
I quickly made an absolute ass of myself with my terrible riding skills. Honestly it felt like I’d been on the thing forever and I was just desperate to get off alive and in one piece. Needless to say Jenny showed me how a true master rides an Ostrich.
So that was it, once again Jen had completely shamed me. Out braved in the feeding challenge, out skilled in the riding challenge and caught “Allegedly” molesting the animals. Fortunately the handlers cheered me up with an Ostrich race.
In all truthfulness this tour was a blast. I can’t even begin to count the number of morally ambiguous and plain wrong situations we ended up in. A true animal rights activist would rightfully have fits at the whole thing. But I can honestly say that I don’t think I have laughed so hard or so long on a tour before. Or had so many totally unexpected experiences. Sometimes you choose to turn at a fork in the road and fantastically strange things happen. I will go to my grave knowing that for three and a half seconds I successfully rode the greatest bird in the world. All for the grand sum of $8, lawyer’s bills and court costs.
Just so you guys know Jenny did the weird neck thing as well.