Baxter the Bird


Monday, 29 October, 2012

Ulsan, South Korea

So, yesterday was turning into a pretty slow Sunday – in a nutshell, Ben, Johnny and I were spending our day sitting on a bench outside a convenience store drinking cans of beer. If there were a few more holes in our jeans and stubble on our chins, I suspect that people would have been offering us spare change.

As we sat and admired the view of the road, Ben started fiddling around with some keys – which would have not really generated any sort of reaction, had it not been for the fact that he was tinkering about with two sets. We questioned his reason for a spare, to which he explained that our other friend, Pete, had given him a backup for emergencies earlier in the day.

While on the topic, we then queried Pete’s whereabouts – I mean, is there a better way to spend a Sunday than facing the road, drinking beer and watching your friend play with keys? Once again, it was Ben that provided that answer. As it goes, Pete had bagged himself a date, whom he was currently taking a pottery class with.

Well, if nothing else this at least clarified the theory that he didn’t find a better option than beer drinking and key fiddling.

Then it suddenly dawned on us, this confirmed so much more than just his obscure choice of setting for a first date. We were also now aware of a couple of very alluring facts on this very slow Sunday afternoon; one) Pete was out, and two) we had a spare key! Our view of the fast cars was about to be put on hold.

We got a road beer and headed in the direction of his flat – although, we were still a little bit void of an exact plan.

We discussed potential options on the walk, all of which were either too outlandish or too boring, and therefore, dismissed pretty sharpish. The closer we got to his place, the more it appeared that a lack of imagination would be our downfall. In fact, we even started to debate whether it was time to admit defeat and retrieve back to our day of benches and beer. At which point, we suddenly noticed something unexpected and magical to our right – a pet shop!

Now, it was just a matter of which pet to gift our pot-making champion.

Shortly after we entered the shop, a dog started to urinate in his basket, much to the owner’s despair. The reaction of the shopkeeper also indicated that he has had quite a stressful time trying to train this young puppy – could we have just struck gold?

We inquired about purchasing the dog, which left the owner a little bit astonished at first – but then, I imagine very few of his previous customers have made a beeline straight to the dog that should be in nappies. Unfortunately, his manner quickly morphed back into cocky salesperson.

He started telling us that this was a very popular and rare breed of puppy. Therefore, the pet would be costly. He clearly thought, well these lads are a bit loopy – if they’re showing interest in wet-herself Wendy, they may even be stupid enough to inflate my pockets. His arrogance lost him a deal.

Johnny was evidently in no mood to bargain, abruptly ending the salesman’s naughty puppy patter by asking, “What is the cheapest pet you have?” This was very assertive, to the point, and frankly, more or less what we all wanted to know deep down. We were otherwise standing and waiting politely for a man to finish a pitch that we all had no interest in – how very British!

He walked us over to this tiny, little bird that was sharing a room with two cage-mates, both of which were almost double its size – this poor, little fella definitely gets the last dibs on the remote control in that household.

If we were told that Mr. Business had picked this bird up from the street earlier in the day, I don’t think any of us would have been overly surprised. However, he was happy to part company with the pet for a fiver. So, we had our purchase.

Now it was just a matter of hoping that Pete and our gift get on – who knows, this could inspire a plethora of pottery-made cages.

With our new buddy in a box, we grabbed ourselves a few more beers and then marched onward to our destination. The three of us had now created quite the giddy atmosphere, continuously commending each other for the ‘bulletproof’ practical joke that we were about to pull.

However, as brilliant as we clearly believed that we were at pranks – we were far from masters regarding discretion. Our rowdy pride as we advanced up Pete’s building’s stairs, led to two of his neighbours opening their doors and having a good, long nosey at us.

It’s times such as this one that make me realise how useful it could be to learn the Korean language – I’m pretty sure that these middle-aged local blokes would have been cracking up had we been able to explain our genius plan.

When we got to the door we suddenly started shushing each other, while Ben carefully placed the spare key into the lock and slowly twisted it to the left – which on hindsight, is pretty ridiculous. Apparently, in our drunken minds his neighbours clearly had superior senses, and therefore, if Pete was in, he simply just wouldn’t have heard us bundling up the stairs while celebrating. Lo and behold, we got through the door and his flat was empty.

We all grabbed a seat and toasted our victory. In fact, we got so carried away with our achievements that we had completely neglected the one thing that had cemented our happiness in the first place – the bird remained in a box inches away from the door.

After a little more laughing and joking, Johnny had a sudden realisation that something was missing – leading to him and I sharing this conversation;

“Where’s Baxter?”
“You mean Pete?”
“No, I know he is having fun with clay at preschool.”
“Right. In that case, I don’t know who Baxter is.”
“The little bird, the one we just bought. The bird. Baxter the bird!”

And with that, Baxter had his name. We then released the young bird, allowing him to imprint his own personality on to the party – this mostly involved flying into walls before eventually nestling into Pete’s laundry basket. It could be assumed that Baxter had drank more than the rest of us based on his nutty actions, but I believe it was just a matter of him being that overly hyper kid that doesn’t get invited to parties often.

A few hours passed – we were now out of beers and getting bored of the waiting game. We started to discuss calling it a day, when all of a suddenly we heard the rattling noise of a keychain from the other side of the door. The lingering was worth it after all!

He opened the door, alongside his date (who later explained that she only came up to ‘borrow a screwdriver’, while Pete pins her visit down to pottery making women weak at the knees) allowing the magic to happen. Baxter reacted to the opening of the door by soaring across the room and almost into Pete’s head, before flying straight back into his laundry basket – he obviously quickly decided that Pete didn’t add anything worthwhile to his first house party.

Subsequently, the next thing he saw were his three friends in fits of hysterics on the bed – he was red, his date was speechless and we were evil geniuses – the perfect way to turn a mundane Sunday into a highly entertaining one. The date awkwardly stayed around for a few minutes before bee-lining with some bogus excuse, and Pete was left drinking beer with the three guys that ruined his date.

Credit where it is due though, Pete has since bought a cage for Baxter and vows to look after the little party animal, who apparently wakes up at 6am every morning for a good old squawk – this beautiful prank is never ending!

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