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Spook often annoys Homer with his insensitive approach to Faded Glory's guests. Homer never hesitates to criticize his feathered nemesis for his numerous shortcomings.

The Fat Lady Sings.

Spook can't fly -- he just waddles. More specifically, since he has flourished in our household, he actually struts. Yes, Spook has got it made: he gets three square meals courtesy of Isabel, and he will never have to eat on the road again. I herein refer to his previous penchant for fresh 'road kill.'

Although he can talk, I know for a fact that he can't reason. In Spook's case, "the lights are on, but nobody's home." So, obviously, Spook and I usually just communicate on a visual level and sometimes a visceral level, but never on an intelligent level.

Ever since Isabel came to the realization that Spook can't distinguish where, and where not, to relieve himself, she generally keeps him confined to his cage, or, at least, on his perch in her small Victorian sitting room. This suits me just fine because it serves to limit Spook's exposure at the Inn. Of course, he still 'rules the roost' every Friday night at happy hour.

Spook and Isabel make an odd pair. Isabel is a good Christian woman, and Spook is, at best, an inveterate trash mouth. It's as if Ray had made a concerted effort to pass on to this creature every inappropriate word and phrase he learned while he was in the Army. People who would normally boycott a network TV show over foul (excuse the pun) language, just stand there and roar as Spook does his thing during happy hour. Micah has always said, "if Spook really had a brain, he would be truly dangerous."

One of Spook's favorite lines is, "it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings." Spook isn't malicious, mind you, because you have to have some degree of intelligence to be malicious. He's just clueless. We never thought much about the downside of his talent until last year when we had guests from Florida who volunteered to play guitar and sing at one of our Friday night happy hours.

Isabel speculates that Ellen Parker and her husband, Bob, might have been a pair of dashing figures 25 years ago; but Ellen, now weighing in at 250+ pounds and Bob, a short man weighing in at around 290 pounds, have been steadily losing their battle with the 'fat fairy.'

On this evening, Bob picked up his guitar and was starting the introduction to "D-i-v-o-r-c-e" when Ellen, now a heavy smoker, launched into a fit of coughing. When Bob stopped his riffs and paused, Spook took advantage of the brief silence and shrieked, "ain't over til the fat lady sings!" Our guests, showing obvious sensitivity to a potentially embarrassing situation, remained silent and waited quietly for Ellen to stop coughing and begin to sing.

Unfortunately, Micah Davenport, who was serving hors d'oevres at that moment, began to giggle. It started out innocently, but when Micah realized that he couldn't contain it, he fled toward the swinging door leading to the kitchen. By the time he reached the door, he broke into open, unabashed laughter. Micah is by no means a mean-spirited or insensitive person and he doesn't laugh much, but he was probably tired, and this time he just seems to have 'lost it.'

Because laughter seems to be infectious among many of my human counterparts, several of the other guests began to laugh as well. Spook, who was languishing on his perch, cocked his head and lurched from side to side as if enjoying his little joke, but he was too dumb to realize the anguish it had caused.

Needless to say, Bob and Ellen didn't continue their rendition of "D-i-v-o-r-c-e" that evening. Ellen fled to their suite, and Bob remained behind and lurked around the 'spiked' punch bowl, imbibing heavily for the remainder of happy hour. Isabel was livid, and Micah appeared to be most repentant.

Bob and Ellen Parker still frequent the Inn and have visited us several times since that awkward night. Even though they have dieted and shed much of their excess weight, they no longer offer to sing during happy hour. Things have been a little strained between them and Micah Davenport since then. As for Spook? For some unknown reason, the Parkers still rank among his most ardent fans. Go figure! I know for sure that I couldn't have gotten away with that! I would still be on Isabel's 'fecal roster.'

A wise old New England philosopher once said, "Don't twit on fact!" I guess that old adage still holds true -- even among some of the more enlightened animal species. Obviously, we will never be able to refer to Spook as "enlightened;" he's just ol' Spook.

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