Meanwhile, here at Fort Flamingo

April 24, 2006
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The pink plastic flamingo, reigning American lawn ornament of the fifties and spurned as tasteless and tacky in the sixties, is now a kind of retro chic joke. About four years ago, a pair mysteriously took up residence in the flowerbed outside the building where I work, and equally mysteriously grew into a flock over the years—which wouldn’t be noteworthy, except that I work on a military base.

No one knew for sure who put the flamingos there, but my department (a bunch of mostly civilian writers, artists, and photographers) felt proprietary towards them. Like us, they didn’t really fit into the military environment. When they disappeared sometime between lunch and mid-afternoon one day last week, we were outraged. It turned out that someone more important than we are decided they looked faded and tatty and brought down the tone of the neighborhood, and he removed them. He did have a point, but his timing was especially cruel since they’d laid colored plastic eggs for Easter.

So we had a whip-round to collect money for a new pair, which arrived today. Small brass plaques were engraved and affixed (how useful it is to have access to engraving equipment) announcing their ownership and asking that they not be fed or taken from their natural habitat; and this afternoon, once most people had left for the day, a colleague and I released them into the wild (well, the flowerbed), where they were settling nicely when I left for home.

We may be a bunch of wimpy, artsy types, but just don’t mess with our flamingos!

P.S. (May 1): For a beautiful photograph of the real thing, check out today’s post at San Diego Daily Photo.