Poland Dispatch: The Ostrich


The ostrich has the timid demeanor of Michael Jackson with the expressionless face of Brendan Fraser. It can be described as a small beanbag chair perched on two corn stalks with a vacuum hose neck and Nerf football head. They have very large eyes that they use to take in the world around them – which, judging from their behavior, they don’t really understand all too well.
The ostrich is naturally very curious and prone to stare at you. If an ostrich were to ride the subway to the Bronx it might start to believe “What you lookin’ at, bitch?” was a special greeting reserved for large flightless birds.
As a result of its twiggish bird legs supporting its compact torso, the ostrich has an awkward gait which no doubt would get them much verbal abuse in any high school cafeteria. They waddle like a penguin, but a tall one with scoliosis, locked knees and a touch of effeminate saunter – the likes of which is not unknown to any guy who dreams of a Bronski Beat/Eurasure comeback tour.
The ostrich default mode is Run Away followed by Stare and Approach Awkwardly. It’s quite prone to cycling through this line-up numerous times in a five-minute period.
Run away!

If an ostrich arrives at the conclusion that you are a threat, it will hiss loudly, then nip at you. If it decides you are not a threat it will just nip at you. Either way, your encounter with an ostrich will most likely involve a nipping.
For that reason, it is not a good idea to approach an ostrich in nice clothing, as the ostrich has little to no regard for designer labels and would just like to eat the buttons on your jacket – be it Boss or B’Gosh. It would also like to eat your wedding ring, Poland/U.S. flag pin, finger, eye, wrist and hair. Pretty much anything in their vicinity is prone to be nipped whether that be you, the fence, the ground, the plastic sheeting that keeps their pen dry or other ostriches. When an ostrich nips at another ostrich, it starts a cycle of nipping and counter-nipping that can last for several minutes until one of them gets bored and looks for something that won’t nip back.
Ostrich nipping is not particularly dangerous or painful; in fact, it can be fairly entertaining if not a bit filthy, as their mouths are often filled with mud. In addition to their harmlessness their nips are also not very productive – like Gary Coleman in the post Diff’rent Strokes years. Nevertheless, an ostrich will frequently act as though his or her nip somehow magically produced a morsel of food. Regardless of what it just nipped at – you, a brick, firewood — it simply assumes it was successful and that it must be eating something, which explains why it will go through the motions of chewing and swallowing. In that sense, it seems to regard the entire world as edible.

An ostrich cannot be bothered to escape. A low fence, some wire, twine, or other minimum-security perimeter will guarantee the ostrich will be in your custody for life. They have assumed, correctly, that they’d fare no better in the outside world. In this respect they are like many college professors on the tenure track.
Ostriches produce sturdy feathers – which would be a great commodity if this were 1730 and there was an abundance of talented music composers creating high demand for quill pens. Sadly, in the age of the Bic and word processing this demand is well satisfied. Although ostriches can be eaten and their skins made into leather, their main reason for existence seems to be to lay more eggs for the creation of more ostriches. When the ostrich market bubble will burst is anyone’s guess. When it does, expect an abundance of ostrich steaks and purses as ostrich farmers purge their supply in favor of more lucrative farming endeavors – like alpacas, llamas or government subsidy abuse.
No escape lads. We’d have to step over. I say we give up.