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The Tea-Pee Bird

by Bob White

Once upon a time in the land of Underside - of course, it's only called Underside by those who live in the land known as Above - there was a very special wingless species known as the Tea-Pee Bird. They stood tall on long, skinny legs and had very flexible, gangly necks. Tea-Pee Birds lived among the rows of plants on hillsides in protected tea plantations, where they happily fed on tea leaves. Their steady diet gave them a natural caffeine buzz and, of course, reason to have a continuous tea party with other birds, just like them.

Tea-Pee Birds were special because their behavior was totally controlled by their environment. As the climate in Underside was always warm and humid and the weather fair, they thrived and were always going around with their heads held high in the air and cooing "Oooh, Oooh, Oooh" to the satisfaction of their multiple mates - monogamy, you see, was not one of their typical characteristics. While gorging on tea leaves, they would have a tea party and ceremoniously croon "Oooh, Oooh, Oooh." After several choruses of "Oooh's," they would become quiet with a self-satisfying peace, as they slowly gathered for a caucus to plan their next tea party and sacramental high.

One bright and fair day, a traveling politician from the land of Above visited Underside on a fact-finding mission. He was intrigued when he saw a Tea-Pee Bird cooing and strutting about with its head held high. "Why, we don't have anything like that where I come from," he drawled to his host. "Do you think I could take a pair of them home with me?"

"I'm not sure you will be happy if you do," his host replied. "We've heard that the bird doesn't survive very well outside of its environment - something about variations in weather and climate change. We don't know about that down here. If the Tea-Pee Bird were subjected to different weather or climate, I'm afraid something terrible would happen to it."

"Not to worry," said the politician. "Where I come from, we know how to keep a bird like that happy."

The man's host reluctantly gave him a pair of Tea-Pee Birds to take back to the land of Above. The man took the birds to his virgin homeland where all of his political friends lived, knowing the birds would be well-fed, nurtured and protected from harm in a climate-controlled environment.

Before long, the pair had a family and not long after that the family became a new generation of Tea-Pee Birds. The new generation grew in number and soon began demanding more and more tea leaves. Their tea party rituals of ceremonial "Oooh's" and sacramental highs were broadcast over WGOP, a bird land talk radio station. Before long, their bird land friends invited them to join in outside of their climate-controlled environment. The Tea-Pee Birds were happy to be invited into bird land, but for the first time were exposed to changeable weather and even a climate that sometimes became dry and beak-chilling.

In fact, the first change in climate was such a shock that their necks began to grow. They grew longer and longer, until they could tuck their heads under their bellies and then between their legs to keep warm. They shivered and wished they were back in the warmth and humidity of Underside. Their necks grew even longer when Above became frozen, and they cried in anguish, "Eeei, Eeei, Eeei. What are we to do?"

The verbose, talk-radio host continued to blast out for all to hear, "This is not real. Do not believe it. Think only of your home in Underside and you will be saved." But while he denounced the existence of sub-zero temperatures, the birds' necks continued to grow. Their heads extended further and further between their legs until they were able to find a protective enclosure within themselves.

"Oooh, Oooh, Oooh," said the Tea-Pee Birds. "Within us it is always warm and humid. See, we are protected and saved from climate change."

And thereafter, whenever they gathered for a tea party, they could be heard singing a new tune as their heads moved between their legs . . . "Ooh - Ahhhh . . . Ooh - Ahhhh . . . Ooh - Ahhhh."

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