She’s fully naked with the exception of the fluorescent orange cast on her right leg. She’s taking a shower in our bathroom, because it’s the easiest access for an invalid. I’m nervous because if she falls she’ll break something else. I’m sitting on the edge of my bed waiting for my cue to come help dry her off and put on clothes, then I hear, “MAAAAAA. MOMMY!” I bolt from the edge of my bed to the bathroom. She’s pushed the shower curtain aside and with impenetrable confidence, balancing on one leg, she says, “My new spirit animal is the flamingo!” I look at her for a moment. I take in her full spirit and my eyes immediately well, because I’m proud of her and I’m lucky God made me her mother. She’s naked, broken, soapy, and happy.
I absorb this new information. This means the mythological wonder we’ve been chasing, dreaming about and sleeping with for nearly a decade just became yesterday’s craze. “Wow. That’s awesome, Mae. Flamingos are totally cool.” I give her a thumbs up and slowly push back the shower curtain as she smiles and then looks down at her foot balancing the new challenge that just came about from the epic warp wall fail in gym class.
I head back to my place on the edge of the bed and wait for my cue. I start comparing unicorns and flamingos. Their color, habits, beauty, purpose, their place in literature, pop culture, clothing, gift shops. I contemplate everything, and as I get deeper into my analysis on the edge of my bed, it occurs to me that the natural progression for a girl of nine would be moving from a unicorn to a flamingo. That sometimes we’re not ready to move on, but life has other plans. Sometimes you think you’re a unicorn and then one day; BAM! The universe makes you a flamingo and you can either fight it or embrace it. You can either sulk and dream of what it was, or start embracing what it is.
I sat with this and much like my nine-year-old, I came to a definitive conclusion that flamingos are amazing compared to unicorns. That the universe has been duped. That all this time, while little girls are having unicorn parties, the flamingo is patiently waiting for someone to take notice of its power, beauty, grace, femininity, balance, uniqueness, confidence, allure- and above all-realness.
As women, we should embrace the flamingo. We should stand on one leg together and let our pinkness shine.
So, based on my opinion and experience, which has not been proven by science, but can be backed by grow pains, menstrual cramps, and journals full of disappointment and angst, I have created a list for all of you who have not yet let go of unicorns.
Here we go. Lift your leg. Balance. Now, embrace the Flamingo!
First off, unicorns aren’t real. Ok. There. I said it. I know we’ve all seen them on the internet, but it’s time to grow up. We need to stop it. The misinformation, the conflicting use of their “magical” hair. The adult coloring books! We have to face the facts, it’s all a ruse by the manufacturers of glitter to spread the herpes of crafts through unicorn belief. But flamingos? They’re real. You want to see a flamingo? You don’t need rainbow hay, or gold dust to catch a glimpse. You need a ride to the zoo or a trip to the tropics. The hardcore truth- it’s better to be real than fake and it’s a lot less messier. Let people find you; the real you. You don’t need magical poop to be awesome. You need to aspire to be the one everyone calls when the shit hits the fan.
Ok, we already know that unicorns aren’t real, so it’s ridiculous that I’m going to go into specifics here, but sometimes you have to go where don’t want to go to drive home a metaphor-Unicorn horns. Everyone is pumped about them. Well, did anyone ever stop and think that science would be further along if we didn’t spend a ridiculous amount of time in the Renaissance period hypothesizing about the powers of mythical horns and perfecting wiccan unicorn spells that influenced alchemy and medicine?! We would probably have a cure for cancer if so many morons weren’t out hunting unicorn horns. Did anyone take a moment to think maybe it’s not a horn? Maybe it’s a dunce hat? A Goddamn dunce hat, people. There is nothing unique about the unicorn horn, because again, it’s not real. But the flamingo?! Oh my god. Do you know that they still have no idea why the flamingo stands on one leg? They even sleep standing on one leg. Because of this uniqueness, the scientific community has taken a closer look at flamingos and have found that standing on one leg may counter-intuitively require less effort for flamingos than standing on two. It’s a finding that could help lead to more stable legged robots and better prosthetic legs. I’m gonna give you a moment to read that last FACT again. Yes. The flamingo is influencing robotic technology and improving the lives of the handicapped just from standing still. Meanwhile, the unicorn has impeded technological advancements with its dunce cone that has zero healing powers while it remains elusive and aloof. I would also like to add that perhaps game trophy hunting wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for unicorns…this is tough to take in, but think about it. I’m sure the elephants hate unicorns. It all started with them. Big takeaway-the thing that makes you special could change the world, don’t hide it. Put it out there on a pedestal. Stand it up straight and let power of your gifts shine against the false sea of unicorn horns and just plain jackassery. (Yes, that’s a word. A unicorn told me, so it’s true.).
Do you know the legendary unicorn was never captured, but its symbolic association with virginity made it the sign of the incarnation of God's Word, innocence, and divine power? Well-la, dee, da, dee. So glad to know that the unicorn has never had a sexual encounter. If unicorns are so coy, why does every oversexed nymph in the forest ride a unicorn while wearing just a tulip leaf over one breast? Unicorns are literally transporting whores through the forest. Why do they get credit for personification of God’s word? Last I heard, they DON’T SPEAK. Innocence? Ummm excuse me, I’ve seen photos of them shooting ray guns while sliding down rainbows drinking moonshine. I’ve seen herds of them running in a meadow, which means they’ve had sex with each other. So, not sure if God got the memo, but unicorns are bad PR for all things heavenly. But the flamingo?! They are an American cultural icon. The plastic lawn flamingo is a beacon of hope, a shining plastic pink emblem of pride for the front yard of the USA. The city of Madison, Wisconsin named the plastic pink flamingo it’s official bird. Why? Because Wisconsinites are wholesome, decent, cheese-loving people. The flamingo represents, beauty, balance, femininity, confidence, and grace. They’re unapologetically flirty and bold. They’re on the front of vacation tees all over world because they know how to have a good time, but still keep their namesake intact. Life lesson- be a symbol you can stand by. Be something people want to mold and stick in their front yard. Flirt, have fun, be balanced, have a good time, and embrace your femininity, but be careful if an oversexed nymph asks for a ride through the forest, it’s bad PR, let the unicorns handle that.
Everyone is always going berserk over the beauty of the unicorn. What are we teaching our children? Let’s not forget the saying, beauty is only skin deep. This applies directly to the unicorn. While their outward appearance might be mysterious and profoundly gorgeous, there’s not much happening on the inside. In fact, there is some scary shit happening with the unicorns. Here are some facts that corroborate my findings:
1.) They pierce the hearts of liars. Ok, well, if this is true every three year old in the universe is at risk.
2.)They don’t like the Fall. So sorry that God couldn’t make the universe more perfect for you unicorns, but the rest of us are gonna head out and rake leaves and take family photos in the woods, while you’re complaining and hiding in a waterfall cave.
3.) They heal sickness. Uh huh. Unicorns think they’re Jesus. This is absolute bullshit and everyone knows it. The fact that unicorns allow this misinformation to circulate is an outrage.
4.) According to Jewish legend, the unicorn can easily kill an elephant, a testament to its immense power and strength. WHAT THE HELL?! Seriously. To show off its strength, the unicorn could have moved a minivan, but instead it chose to take out an elephant!
5.) Unicorn families spend their lives alone living in peace deep in the forest…except for when they are challenged to show off their strength and head out of the forest to kill an elephant.
There’s more but it’s all so disturbing. What you need to know is that Flamingos don’t do any of this crap. They just stand on one leg and eat crustaceans that gradually turn their feathers pink.
Key information- beauty is bigger than the myth, more imaginative than the mirror, and so important for a good soul. Feed yourself with things that make you happy, loved and pink. Stand alongside all the other flamingos, don’t throw shade on them, just stand there and let them be them, while you be you. Be pink, proud and kind.
Know that your feathers are beautiful.
They’ll keep you safe from the rain.
They’ll turn from a dull gray to pink.
And when you’re ready, they’ll lift you off to be wherever you want to be.
Embrace the flamingo.
Courtney is the author of the Gnat & Corky Series; universal and diverse stories based on the spirit of real kids. Gnat paints it. Corky writes it. You can follow Gnat & Corky on Instgram and Facebook @gnatandcorky The first book (of 16) Addison The Light Catcher will be available June 21st, 2018.