There are times we all know when words are woefully inadequate and it seems even more diabolically so to those of us who fling them about for a living.
When one of my oldest mates Dave was dying what I couldn’t say to he or his wife – both also journos – morphed into penguins as they were always both quite partial to them.
There were penguin book marks, penguin books, penguin ornaments, penguin pencil sharpeners, a penguin pendant, penguin chocolates all posted interstate wordlessly. When the shops ran out of penguins – as being no where near the sea they very soon did – I began rewriting the great works of literature to include penguins.
There was the long lost Penguin Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, I rediscovered Esperance – the nanny penguin cut from balcony scene in Rome & Juliet by censors after the Great Penguin Pogroms of the 14th century.
When Dave died I flew across for the funeral with five kilo glass penguin swathed in half a kilometre of bubble-wrap.
The sheer absurdity of it gave me strength, especially when airport security stopped the x-ray conveyor and demanded to know what was in the suspicious parcel.
“A very heavy glass penguin,” I replied.
The guard looked me with an expression that said; ‘Sure, it’s a heavy glass penguin’.
He then insisted, quite nastily, that I unwrap it – presumably just in case it went off.
And as I held it out for inspection it was clear to everyone that this was a penguin of mass destruction.
Someone behind me snickered.
I didn’t cry, but I didn’t laugh either because I didn’t want the penguin to miss the plane.