Billy's Blues OR Lonely at the Top
Sep 15 2017

Billy's Blues OR Lonely at the Top

By: Phil LaMancusa

It sucks being a giraffe. It’s got to be the worst job on the planet, worse than a donut fry cook, scrap metal junk collector, or a manic mechanic on cars. I know it is, because I spent a few early morning REMs being a giraffe, and I can tell you that I didn’t like it from the beginning until the time that I woke up: 

First of all, giraffes give birth standing up, so a newborn calf is literally dropped from a height onto the ground where they’re pushed to a standing position and told to get the hell moving before they become some lion’s hors d’oeuvre; father is called a bull (which he likes fine), while mother is called a “cow” (fighting words where I come from). The whole gang of ‘em is called a “tower,” as in: “Hey Clem, there goes a tower of gy-raffes; must be six or eleben of ‘em!” I’m telling you, it ain’t easy.

Next, it’s almost impossible to have a dialogue with more than one giraffe at a time. All that head-turning hurts your neck, and brother, there’s a lot of neck to hurt. Also, it’s hard to get a decent drink from the water hole without all the other animals making fun of you; you have to eat what’s at the top of the trees and be satisfied with it, and monkeys think that your appearance is hysterical and throw things at you.

Conversely, giraffes are very good at one-on-one, giraffe-to-giraffe conversation, and this sometimes leads to romance and another calf being dropped from a high place to continue the cycle of life, to which I say: thanks … for nothing.   

So, there you are, or more precisely, I am (giraffe-ly speaking), one day, minding your/my own business, goofing with the chimps, and Uncle Ralph says, “Okay, let’s mosey on.” Actually, he doesn’t say anything, because giraffes don’t talk (imagine having vocal cords that long?). Uncle Ralph, who’s the “lead” bull, just gets a bug up his butt and starts ambling, and—what do we know—we can’t see what’s going on, so we follow him. Off goes the “tower”—all six or 11 of us. 

BAM! There goes a noise, and what do you think it is? It’s some pale, hairless biped who has just shot me with a needle, and down I go, unconscious, to be ripped from my family and friends, shipped off to a zoo where there’s not enough room to scratch my assets, and put into an “enclosure” with others of my kind and expected to eat dry grass and iceberg lettuce, drink from a water fountain that’s 12 feet in the air, and make nicey nice for the gawking, dressed-up humans who look, to us, more ridiculous than an orangutan’s backside. I have nothing in common with any of this.

Sure, there’s a cute little giraffe heifer from Uganda, or some place, and she’s giving me the eye, and I’ll tell you, when a female giraffe starts batting those eyelashes … boy, howdy! But hey, you’re wandering around on packed dirt all day and then enclosed in a dark barn all night (albeit with high ceilings), and face it, how are you going to pitch some woo with a bunch of long-neck geeks snoring and snuffling (giraffes snore loud enough to rattle window panes), and wanting to get up into your grill because you accidentally stepped on their hoof or passed gas? 

Okay, so the sweetie sweetie preliminaries between Mary Lou (the heifer) and I are completed in the dark of night, and next day, she starts nuzzling up to me—in the “enclosure,” on the packed dirt—water fountain 12 feet in the air and you/I drop all of your/my reserves and composure and go for it. Suddenly, you hear: “Hey Clem, come quick, them gy-raffes is f*kkin’!” Talk about a bliss buster, total deflation, and you know that your performance will be dudsville, and you’ll be the laughing stock of the stockade and have to live the rest of your days with the shame. And the keepers wonder why you look depressed. Depressed? You don’t know the half of it; don’t get me started on the artificial insemination process.

I start to black out, my head is spinning, there is a rushing sound in my ears and a banging, banging, and that’s when I wake up; it takes me a minute to get my bearings. I’m in a strange bed, it’s Tuesday, and the garbage men are on the street with their usual hullabaloo and cacophonic city wake-up call. 

Back to my life and reality: drillers are drilling, billers are billing, killers are killing, and the swills are out in force, swilling; if it was a thrill, it would be thrilling … but it’s not. I need to get up, shower, shave, and get to work on time. I need to find water, a clean shirt, and my razor has become dull overnight. I have bed head, bags under my eyes, and I realize I just screwed up a (giraffe’s) wet dream; I am such a loser, but … I smell coffee.

And I wake up again, this time for real. The dog’s licking my face, the mug of coffee is within my reach, and her voice is saying, “Good morning, how’d you sleep?” For a minute, I’m not sure whether I’m a giraffe having a dream that I’m a human or if I really did have a dream about being a giraffe, but I reach up and touch her cheek and decide that I’ll be satisfied with what I’m seeing, what I’m feeling. I stretch and say, “Fine, Honey, but you know what? It would really suck to be a giraffe.” 

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