I was walking home from work yesterday and I saw a goose. Being in a particularly flippant mood I approached the goose and said “boo”. I then paused, an optimistic grin on my face, anticipating the goose’s delight. The goose met my gaze, deadpan. There then followed an awkward pause. I felt indignant. Saying boo to a real live goose, spontaneously, was a very clever and witty thing to do. Ok, maybe the goose had a lot on his mind, maybe he had just had a tough day on the farm, whatever, but at the very least I deserved a polite smile.
Instead the goose sniffed, and turned its little yellow beak to the sky in contempt.
“I know you think you’re clever, but I’ve got to tell you, I get this all the time” Said the goose. I was nonplussed, but listened politely as the goose went on. He told me, in some detail, about the endless parade of random booings he has to cope with on a daily basis, and about the requests he receives from timid strangers wishing to prove their worth.
“It’s not just me either,” The goose ranted, his temper escalating by the second. I had clearly stumbled on one of his pet subjects and he was not to be deterred. He told me about a small, rather misshapen boulder not far from here. So misshapen is the boulder that it could almost be described as ragged. According to the goose this boulder is besieged by tourists each morning, many of whom travel for miles to dress up in tattered clothes and sprint around it. Meanwhile, every day the ragged rascal whose job it is to sprint around the boulder turns up to work (apparently he’s employed by the council) and simply cannot get a look in.
“Not that anyone cares!” Ranted the goose “I mean, how’s the poor bloke supposed to do his job!? Nobody thinks of that, do they?”
At this point I was beginning to get a bit bored. Honestly, I was just trying to have a bit of a laugh, I didn’t
particularly need a detailed account of the goose’s problems, nor those of everyone he knows. I mean, I’ve
got my own stuff to deal with. Wisely I said nothing, and listened to the story of the Piper Estate, who have
recently hired a lawyer and patented the rights to pick pickled pepper.
“Wait a second” I said. “There’s no way they can enforce something like that. People must be picking
pickled pepper all the time.”
“Of course they are” the goose spat. “There’s all kinds of idioms getting subverted on the black market, but what can you do?”
At this point I noticed a slight sexual frisson pass between us. I think this surprised him as much as it did me, maybe he was just grateful to have someone to listen to, maybe his passion for the cause had suddenly overwhelmed him.
This presented me with a dilemma. Ok, the chemistry was there between us, this I couldn’t deny, but at the end of the day he was a talking goose. He was poultry. Worse than that, belligerent poultry. With a due sense of foreboding I swapped numbers with the goose, agreeing to meet for a drink later that week in a little bar he knew round the corner.
As we said our farewells, a thought hit me. A stroke of genius, in fact. I inhaled, silently praying this gamble would pay off. I called his name.
As he turned, before I could change my mind I said “boo” It was a quiet, knowing boo, one that spoke of a shared experience and our new bond. He smiled. A tired little secret smile, a smile of forgiveness, acceptance and above all, appreciation. I walked away. We never did go for that drink, but that smile was all I'd wanted.