At first, I loved having a little bird for a friend …
My Summer of Pepe began when a funny little black bird started hanging around the house, hopping back and forth across my patio – so I named it Pepe because it reminded me of Pepe Le Pew from the Looney Tunes cartoons.
And its face reminded me of Pepe the King Prawn from the Muppets franchise. And its footwork reminded me of Pepe the Brazilian-born professional footballer who plays centre-back for the Portuguese national team. Pepe just seemed to be the obvious name-choice. A natural fit.
My Summer of Pepe was a time of great joy and camaraderie. Every morning I’d go outside and see Pepe on the patio, hopping happily in its skunk-prawn-Brazilian-Portuguese centre-back way.
I would say, “Good morning, Pepe,” and it would ignore me like it didn’t know its own name, then it would crap all over the brickwork and hop into the bushes – we had a special bond, Pepe and I, the closest human-avian friendship I’d ever known.
I even made an effort to find out what kind of bird Pepe was.
I found an old book on the bookshelf called What Bird is That?, looked inside for a Pepe-ish photo, and discovered that my black bird is commonly known as “a common blackbird”. Now I had a song to sing it each morning: “Blackbird hopping on the patiooooo … take these hoppy legs and hop abouuuuuut …” A haunting reworking of the Beatles classic. Maybe even an improvement.
But my Summer of Pepe began to turn dark. My wife thought it would be a great idea to give Pepe a little meal on the patio and she threw it stale bread, prepared three ways – shredded, ripped, and blue-furry-mouldy.
Pepe ate the stale bread then hopped into the house to find more, knowing we were the kind of slovenly humans who were sure to have plenty lying around.
But Pepe had a poor understanding of internal walls and windows: it got trapped in the house and started flapping like crazy, excreting breadish-bluish blobs all over the place. I had to catch the bird in a bathroom towel then carefully carry it outside again. I used my wife’s towel. She threw the bread. It was only fair.
My Summer of Pepe got darker. Every time we left the back door open, even for a minute, Pepe hopped into the house, got trapped inside, and crapped everywhere – best friends are not supposed to do that.
Eventually I was forced to sever all ties with my bird buddy. I popped two plastic owls on either side of the back door, like small scowly bouncers. But that didn’t deter Pepe: it just strolled in right past them – it could see the Bunnings price-stickers on theirs wings and the back-hole for easy drainage.
I tried hanging CDs all over the pergola because I’d heard the shiny reflective surface scares birds away (I used my wife’s old CDs. She threw the bread. It was only fair). But that didn’t work either, Pepe kept coming in – for some reason it wasn’t intimidated by Jack Johnson, Pete Murray and Katie Melua’s Call Off The Search from 2003.
And now my Summer of Pepe has completely ruined my summer. All our doors and windows have to be permanently closed. The heat in the house is stifling. The air is unbreathable. And that little dickhead is still outside, hopping back and forth in its obnoxious, arrogant, entitled way, like Pepe the Frog from the viral internet memes. Some names are just meant to be.
Danny Katz is a regular columnist.
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