13 February 2006

City-Dweller Myth Exposed: Rooster's Do Not Greet the Dawn

Everyone knows roosters crow at dawn. How many pot-boilers have we read with opening paragraphs about roosters "greeting the dawn" or "awakening at first light and starting the farmer's day," etc. Certainly I have always accepted that truth. It is in the category of knowledge that we accept without question even though we do not see or hear it for ourselves. "Cows give milk" and "Chickens lay eggs." How many of us have ever seen with our own eyes a demonstration of either? We accept those "facts" without hesitation because i) they are logical, and ii) the source is not The White House. Though not government sponsored, the rooster factoid might as well be. It's WMD all over again. I am on the scene and here to tell it like it is.

Mind you, I am not saying that roosters do not crow at dawn. But that's in the category of the stopped clock telling the accurate time twice a day because not only do the roosters crow at dawn, they crow at noon, midday, midnight, 2am, 4 am, etc. Now, I have no doubts that it is the rooster's job to greet the dawn. But on this island, these French icons (our eagle is their coq) either do not know what their job is, or they just don't give a damn. The fact: roosters are single-minded birds whose focus is to let every hen on the island know they are here, and in charge. They do that by i) adopting that ridiculous "I-am-the-Arnold-Schwartzeneger-of-this-island" strut, ii) charging and menacing anyone or anything approaching their flock of hens, (up to and including large people and small automobiles), and iii) crowing around the clock. And I mean literally around the clock. I'm not saying they don't take occasional afternoon naps. They must, given all the hens to whom they are obliged. But so far as I can see, when they are not sleeping, they are crowing. I do not know why all that crowing is necessary, but my working hypothesis is they figure the hens have very small brains and will forget the rooster is around unless reminded often.

The combination of i) my observations of rooster behavior (you live here, you move about the island, you are blessed with normal hearing, you see and hear lots of rooster behavior) together with ii) my experience litigating market-sharing conspiracy cases under the Sherman Antitrust Act, have led me to the firm conclusion that the roosters on this island have put together a simple but very effective conspiracy of their own. They are brazen in its execution. (There is no French Elliott Spitzer) The entire purpose of this conspiracy is to keep the island hens in a state perpetual second class status. Think about it: when a rooster sleeps, or is otherwise engaged, who is going to remind his hens of their subservient status? Another rooster, that's who. I am not sure how they have struck the deal, or what signals they pass to communicate to the duty rooster that he is up, but for sure somebody is always up, and so around here somebody is always crowing.

Fortunately for us, most of the duty roosters are far enough away so that while they are audible, they are not maddening.

But we have a new neighbor. Nice young couple. Friday nights they have friends over, drink wine, get loud, it's all very easy to take. They do not keep me up. (My only problem at night is trying to avoid falling asleep while walking up the steps to my bedroom.) But either my neighbors have taken on a rooster, or we have a new visitor: there's a lot of crowing these days in close proximity to Villa Stella Maris. Too close. We'll see how this goes. I can handle this. This rooster had better soon realize that I have adopted an infantryman's approach to island life.

A bientot.

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