On my way to my studio every morning I walk through the park. Very often I meet a beautiful blackbird. I know it’s always him because he has a very distinctive mark that makes him stand out: he has two big white spots on his cheeks. Quite fetching, I must say.
And yes, it’s definitely a “he”: as some of you might know, only the male blackbird is actually black. The female is in fact dark brown.
Now, I like giving names to what or who I see on a regular basis during my morning walk (all the people I regularly meet have nicknames in my head) and starting from the word ‘cheek’, I naturally thought I should name him Cheeko. This is because the nickname my parents and sister have used for me since I was a child is Cico, which -despite the different spelling- in Italian pronounces exactly like that: ‘chee-koh’, like the Spanish word ‘chico’. My sister once tried to call me Massimo and I asked her if she’d gone stupid. That’s how used I am to that.
So, this adorable blackbird has automatically become a sort of alter ego of mine. Even his white cheeks are a “parallel” of the white hair that’s staring to grow on my sides, over the ears (alas, ageing!…). So whenever I don’t spot him around his favourite places in the park for too long, I start fearing he might have been eaten by a cat or something and that this might also be a bad sign for me… I know, it’s a bit bonkers, but hey-ho, these are the tricks your mind plays to you when you want to be a “creative”…
Anyway, I saw him this morning, so he’s alive and well. Plenty of times I tried to take a picture of him, but he’s clearly very camera-shy, and flies away as soon as I stop and start fiddling with my mobile phone to take a shot of him. So instead, here is a drawing of what he looks like (apologies to Cheeko if my memory isn’t perfectly adherent to reality, but it’s pretty close anyway):


He’s quite plump (half of the times I see him, he’s slurping down some fat earthworm he’s just dug out from the soil), cheerful (and blackbirds’ singing is one of the nicest among all birds’) and bouncy. Sometimes I wonder if his white cheeks are a problem for him. Maybe his fellow birds bully him or mock him because of those (“Hey, whitey!”, or “Ooh, have you fallen into a bottle of bleach?” and stuff like that). Or in fact maybe they think he’s more special than others and look up to him. Hard to say. But somehow he strikes me as being quite lonely, sort of an underdog of blackbirds. An under-bird.
But there you go, he’s got at least one big fan in me. Even Cheeko is having his 15 minutes of fame now. If he only knew…
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