A Metaphor for Tolerance.

 

The Lesser Spotted Noodlenadger, is is a very rare bird indeed. It is only found on one remote, equatorial, island somewhere in the vast Pacific Ocean; to give away its location would dishonour the memory of those who have sought to keep its location secret.
The Lesser Spotted Noodlenadger has a striking plumage, made up of several colours. These are, black, red, blue and green.
It lives high in the tree tops and is heard but seldom seen by the local natives. The male reaches puberty very quickly and soon acquires a harem of at least twenty females. Once acquired, the harem stays faithful to the male bird and, unusually, the male stays faithful to the females in his harem.
Very few male birds hatch, so competition for the young males is fierce. At the end of every Spring the cacophony caused by squabbling females can be heard across the forest, from dawn till dusk.
Norman Noodlenadger was dreading the end of Spring, he was the only son of proud parents, Suzy, Lycra, Janet, Jean, Harriet, Kimberly, Sarah, Gillian, Louise, Doris, Brittany, Doreen, Helen, Sheila, Roberta, Nina, Vera, Gina, Julie, Chelsea and Alfred Noodlenadger.
Why was Norman dreading the end of Spring? Put simply, Norman had feelings. Not the sort of feelings that he could discuss with Alfred and he wasn’t sure that Suzy, Doreen, Janet, Jean, Harriet, Kimberly, Sarah, Gillian, Louise, Doris, Brittany, Doreen, Helen, Sheila, Roberta, Nina, Vera, Gina, Julie, or Chelsea would understand either. Also, where the other young males had a flash of red along their flanks, Norman had a flash of pink!
Alfred hated it, whilst the ladies, tried to ignore it; Norman however, loved it. To make matters worse, he chirped with a pronounced lisp and each time he tried to do the wooing dance he fell off the branch.
Alfred was not amused as it was incumbent upon him to teach his young son all that was required to perpetuate the species. Therefore, he spent hours with his son trying to instil the basics of the wooing dance.
Norman loved to display, the feathers on his head formed an iridescent black crown that shimmered in the sunlight, whilst his outstretched blue wings, with a flash of pink, projected the sun’s rays onto the forest canopy forming flashing fairy lights wherever they touched. His pride and joy, his tail feathers; like his breast, was of a deep iridescent green. They danced as if they were detached from the main body and dazzled all who viewed them.
Alfred told his son to puff up and prepare to promenade once again. But Norman was content to do his own thing.
Where the other young males would promenade along the branch towards the wide eyed females; Norman sort of minced, embarrassingly so! The ladies loved it, the display that Norman put on was totally different from that of the other male birds. What is more, Norman loved an audience; the bigger and louder the crowd, the better the display. The longer he practiced, the better he got; soon, he had at least thirty female Noodlenadger clamouring for his affection. He also had a strong following of young male Noodlenadger, all keen to learn from Norman the art of dance and display.
Norman revelled in his new found fame and was soon touring the island putting on shows for the entire Noodlenadger population. Birds of other different species came along to the displays and pretty soon Norman became an inter-island super star. However, whilst Norman bathed in the adoration that his new found fame brought, Suzy, Lycra, Janet, Jean, Harriet, Kimberly, Sarah, Gillian, Louise, Doris, Brittany, Doreen, Helen, Sheila, Roberta, Nina, Vera, Gina, Julie, Chelsea and Alfred were not happy. They wanted their son to settle down with a harem and start a family of Noodlenadger of his own. In short, they wanted their son to be normal.
Unfortunately, Norman was not interested in being normal, as he often tweeted to his myriad of fans in his gentle, lispy voice; ‘normal thucksth’! You could say that Norman was the first Noodlenadger rebel. His shows were eagerly awaited by the young Noodlenadger, who became less concerned with finding mates and more interested in the latest dance being created by Norman.
One day, when Norman was at home, his father asked him why he would not settle down with a harem of his own. His answer outraged and puzzled Alfred. He said that females did not interest him, in fact they did nothing at all for him. He added that he was far happier in the company of the young male birds. Alfred questioned him further, he asked Norman to explain. The reply that he got nearly knocked him off his perch. Norman said that for all of his young life he had, had “feelings”. Alfred asked him to elaborate; his son carried on, nervously. He said that the thought of having a harem of beautiful young birds made him feel physically sick. Alfred, thinking that his son was just nervous of taking on such a responsibility, told him that all young Noodlenadger felt the same and that it was only natural.
Norman took a deep breath and told his father that it wasn’t nerves, he really did feel sick at the thought of having to look after so many females.
His father told him to start with two or three and once his confidence had built, to add to his harem.
Norman could stand it no longer,
‘Dad!’ He screamed.
‘Don’t you get it? I am not interested in lady Noodlenadger, I prefer males and if I could find one who felt the same as I do, I would set up a nest with him.’
Arthur was speechless, the first Gay Noodlenadger was a product of his loins. He just could not absorb the enormity of it and flew off into the distance.
Now that he had come out, Norman felt like a new bird and at his next gig he announced his true self to his fans. Unfortunately for Norman, none of the young knew what being Gay meant and just carried on as normal, that is, until the majority of mature Noodlenadger heard and realised the implications of having a Gay Liberal in the flock.
Word soon spread through the Noodlenadger colony and the Elder Noodlenadger were outraged and summoned Norman’s parents to the Great Thornical Nest to demand an explanation of their son’s behaviour. The Grand Elder wanted to know if they were affiliated to the “New Age” parents whose philosophy seemed to be to let their children rule the roost.
Alfred was both outraged and embarrassed by this inquisition and the cacophony caused by his harem spontaneously crying in synchronised harmony was just too much for him to take. He ordered the Grand Elder to apologise or face him on the Branch of Honour. Never before in the history of the Noodlenadger species had a Grand Elder been challenge in such a manner. It was simply unprecedented, no one was allowed to speak so disrespectfully to the Grand Elder and the grand old bird and his council of Elders were taken aback.
Alfred was unrepentant and demanded an answer, Suzy, Lycra, Janet, Jean, Harriet, Kimberly, Sarah, Gillian, Louise, Doris, Brittany, Doreen, Helen, Sheila, Roberta, Nina, Vera, Gina, Julie and Chelsea fell silent; all eyes were on the Grand Elder and an ominous hush fell over the Great Thornical Nest.
The Grand Elder stared, malevolently, at Alfred and then, with an athleticism that defied his age, hopped up onto the Speaker Twig. First, he reminded everyone where they were; The Great Thornical Nest! Then he started into a long speech about the history of the Great Thornical Nest and the abeyance of the rules and traditions that were expected and demanded of anyone who entered the hallowed sanctuary.
Then he turned his attention to Suzy, Lycra, Janet, Jean, Harriet, Kimberly, Sarah, Gillian, Louise, Doris, Brittany, Doreen, Helen, Sheila, Roberta, Nina, Vera, Gina, Julie, Chelsea and Alfred; the latter, he looked straight in the eye and told him in no uncertain terms that Grand Elders do not demean themselves or their position as Grand Elder by indulging in fights, petty arguments or other such unsavoury deeds. He asked Alfred why he had such a large harem, Alfred replied that it was normal for male Noodlenadger to have a large harem as it was in this way that the species proliferated.
That was just the answer that The Grand Elder was waiting for, and he pounced on it. His next question sent an alarming buzz around the Great Thornical Nest. He asked if Alfred knew that research had shown that since his son had started doing his degrading display act, the normal process of harem acquiring amongst the young had dropped by seventy five percent?
Then, pointing a shaking wing at Alfred, he stated that if Norman was allowed to carry on Noodlenadger experts predict that the species will be in serious decline within two generations.
Cries of, “shame” and “banish him” rang out from around the Great Thornical Nest.
Alfred visibly wilted in front of the Council of Elders, seizing the moment, the Grand Elder hopped down from the Speaker Twig and strutted around the Great Thornical Nest like a victorious gladiator seeking approval from Caesar. He called for quiet and, once again, the assembled fell silent. All waiting for some pearls of wisdom and guidance to come from the beak of the Grand Elder.
With Alfred fixed firmly in his sight, he said; ‘on behalf of this great nation of Noodlenadger I hereby decree that the practice of male Noodlenadger dancing in front of females to attract mates is to cease forthwith. Further, you, your harem and, especially that disgusting son of yours, be banished forever to the Island of Homos.’
Suzy, Lycra, Janet, Jean, Harriet, Kimberly, Sarah, Gillian, Louise, Doris, Brittany, Doreen, Helen, Sheila, Roberta, Nina, Vera, Gina, Julie and Chelsea screamed en masse at the shame such a decree heaped upon them. Alfred started to protest but his protestations were drowned out by cries of,‘here, hear and go, go, go, go!’ emanating from the assembled throng.
The Grand Elder hopped back onto the Speaker Twig and called for calm, once attained he addressed the crowd again.
‘This decision was not one that my Councillors and I found easy to make but we had to consider the future good of the Nation.’
Then he directed his words solely to Alfred, Suzy, Lycra, Janet, Jean, Harriet, Kimberly, Sarah, Gillian, Louise, Doris, Brittany, Doreen, Helen, Sheila, Roberta, Nina, Vera, Gina, Julie and Chelsea ‘You have twenty four hours to find your son and leave this island, failure to comply will incur the wrath of the Council and force us to physically eject you.’
The Great Thornical Nest erupted, any protestations voiced by Alfred or members of his harem were drowned out by the noise of the assembled crowd of Noodlenadger. Alfred had no choice but to gather his harem and fly from the Great Thornical Nest in disgrace.
He was ashamed of his son, ashamed of himself and ashamed of his kinsmen for their prejudice and complete lack of understanding.
He sent his wives home to prepare for the journey to the Island of Homos whilst he scoured the forest, looking for his son. He eventually found him in a clearing at the north edge of the forest. Norman had been attacked! Alfred feared the worse, he thought that his son was dead. His fine plumage, usually so meticulously groomed, was lying in clumps around his inert body. The pink flashes had been ripped off and were replaced with streaks of dark red blood; Norman’s blood!
To Alfred’s surprise and delight, he found that Norman was alive. He put his wings, protectively, around his sons near naked body and cried. He stayed with his son all of the rest of the day and for all of the night. He gave him water when he asked for it and bathed his wounds in mineral rich mud. The next day he managed to walk Norman through the great forest to the clearing upon which grew the Joogledangly tree; it was here that he and his harem had their home.
He called up to Suzy, Lycra, Janet, Jean, Harriet, Kimberly, Sarah, Gillian, Louise, Doris, Brittany, Doreen, Helen, Sheila, Roberta, Nina, Vera, Gina, Julie and Chelsea, who between them managed to raise their limp son up into the tree top. The ladies may well have been thoroughly ashamed of Norman but, he was family and they all rallied round and fussed over him. Tending his wounds and soothing his fevered brow.
Alfred called upon the Grand Elder and demanded that those who had beaten his son be brought to justice. His request fell upon deaf ears; he was, however, reminded that he had but a few hours remaining before he and his family were ejected from the island by force.
The flight across the water was both arduous and dangerous but the ladies somehow managed to carry Norman across the divide to the island of Homos.
For years thereafter, Alfred and his harem would be known as the secret society. No one on the main island was allowed to speak of them.
Norman died as a result of his wounds the following year, he was was to be the only Gay Noodlenadger ever, but his existence had paved the way for a new society. Alfred and his harem produced many fine chicks and carried on with the age old traditions of the Noodlenadger.
The practice of having a large harem gradually fell into decline and the surprising result was that more male birds were born. The society that grew on Homos was governed by the rules set down by the Great Elder Alfred. It was a strict but tolerant society, one that was based on family values and fairness to all.

 

©Phil Bottomley 2015

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