The Chameleon and the Bird

from The Cosmic Balancing Act

A chameleon was keeping himself to himself, on a leaf on a branch on a tree: green as the leaf, still as the branch, lasooing the occasional insect with his tongue: when – rather unusually – a colourful bird landed right beside him.

The bird was orange with a bright yellow head, an iridescent green chin – and an extremely lush golden tail. It made no effort at all to conceal itself.

“Psst!” hissed the chameleon. “I don’t know who the fuck you are, but if you stand there much longer you’re gonna get yourself eaten. Or made into fishing flies. For God’s sake, conceal yourself. It’s a jungle in here!”

At this the bird – who was a bird of paradise – took a deep breath and let out the most ear-piercing shriek. And then another. And then another. And then another even louder one!

The chameleon’s eyes bulged with amazement, and he scuttled into the shadows, behind a less prominent, less green leaf – which he felt offered better cover under the circumstances.

The bird of paradise crowed again.

“Have you lost your fucking mind?” gulped the chameleon. “If I were in your situation I would shut up, hunker down, and camouflage myself – preferably by use of the layer of guanine crystals in your skin, if you have any, which I doubt.”

But the bird of paradise did the very opposite, and flying to a more prominent branch, took a deeper breath and ­– to the chameleon’s great surprise – erected its tail and started screeching again.

“Oh brilliant,” sighed the chameleon – edging on to the tree trunk, and realigning his guanine crystals to resemble bark. “An erect tail! That is the last thing we need!”

Other birds began to answer.

“Yeah right. He’s over here! He’s over here!” chirruped the chameleon.

The bird of paradise carried on screeching.

“You know,” said the chameleon. “I wonder if you’ve really got your head around this life being a jungle equation. There’s a flourishing trade in dead birds of paradise. If I had wings, I would fly off now. Go on, fuck off!”

The bird fucked off and was, presently, netted by a collector – skinned and stuffed and arranged with a couple of colleagues in a glass case. This diorama, after some time, became a very valuable antique. The chameleon, however, was never seen again.

Moral: Go on then, display yourself. See where that bloody gets you . . .

© Adam Acidophilus 2020