Flamingo Famous – Part 1

Flamingo Famous – Part 1

There is no amount of parental guilt that cannot be expunged by wearing an inflatable flamingo costume for a week.

This week the boys started their new school in Darwin. Milo in particular was not well pleased with this life development and so he, with the enthusiastic support of his giggling brother, devised something of a quid pro quo. Like an elderly resident negotiating an above-market price during a compulsory house acquisition, Milo secured a silver lining to his gathering, monsoonal storm clouds; those being a new school, in a new city, in a new state, in an entirely new climate.

For the first week of school I must drop them off and pick them up dressed as a bright pink flamingo.

Now, before we go on I must describe the outfit to you, because it is important. Inflatable, it is in the popular style of a human riding something, or something riding or carrying a human. That is, I am enveloped by a bright pink inflatable plastic flamingo. My legs slide into the costume and are designed to appear as the flamingo’s legs. There are separate, utterly disproportionate legs that dangle helplessly either side of the flamingo’s bulging body. Those withered little legs are supposed to be mine, such that I am riding the flamingo, whose name is Kevin.

Kevin has some nice flourishes; a little floppy yellow crown, a rather flamboyant pink tu-tu and a gold beak which matches the shiny tassels on my paralyzed legs. The inflation mechanism is actually rather ingenious. Lodged in Kevin’s back is a battery-driven fan pump which operates constantly, sucking air into the pink plastic sack which, when fully inflated, forms Kevin’s body. A simple tie mechanism around the waist keeps most of the air in, although his face and beak deflate immediately whenever any air escapes, giving him the appearance of a drunk, or a narcoleptic.

Anyway, the thought processes here are very interesting and, I think, far more sophisticated than simply the hilarity of forcing your dad to dress like a flamingo for a week might first appear. Or perhaps I’m over-thinking it.

Their request is definitely not punitive; they know well-enough that dressing like an exotic, brightly-coloured bird in public is leisure for me. There is definitely an element of something to look forward to. On the last evening of the holidays Milo morosely sobbed that the only thing that could make him happy the next day was Kevin. The flamingo may also be shielding or distracting them from the understandable trials of being the new guy; Milo needed to wee during the walk to school but would not let Monty and I walk on and let him catch up (which would not be a problem because the flamingo is not easy to walk in) – “wait for me or I won’t get to walk with the flamingo” he yelled desperately.

But I think the most ingenious aspect of Milo’s plan is that Kevin is an unmissable, unexplainable, unforgettable year 3 ice breaker. There are limitless ways this conversation can shake out, here’s a few:

“Hi Milo, it’s nice to meet you. Is your dad insane?”

“Yes, I think he is. Should we have lunch together?”

“Yes I would like that.”

“Hi, nice to meet you. Did you come to school with a flamingo?”


“What’s his name?”

“Kevin. My name’s Monty.”

“Hi Monty, I’m Indi – do you want to paint something with me?”

“Hi Milo. Boy, that flamingo costume your dad’s wearing must be a real sweat box. Welcome to the tropics. How are you finding it so far? Would you like to share one of my lamington fingers?”

etc etc

And it must be said Kevin worked a treat on day one. Here are some highlights:

  • myriad honks from twin-cab utes on the walk to school;
  • the school crossing guy neighed at us and then said he thought I was a pink horse;
  • countless smiles, pokes, prods and slaps from confused but delighted children;
  • one child asked if I was a big sausage;
  • a smiling Darwinian yelled “that’s a bloody ripper” out his wound-down window;
  • The boys both smiled, giggled and held their heads up high the whole way to school;
  • Monty cuddled Kevin first, then me, at the end of the day; and finally…

After we had dropped Monty we walked with Milo towards his classroom. On the way we noticed a local news station filming inside the school for the evening news. I spotted the school principal and went to change course away from the camera. She walked directly up to me and said “No, what you need to do is walk in front of the camera’s view.” And so we did. Welcome to Darwin.

More to come.



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