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THE BIRDS OF PARADISE

    Once a bird of paradise answered a personal ad in a highbrow singles magazine.
    The ad read: “Successful and witty bird of paradise, emotionally mature and radiating deep comfort with self, down-to-earth but with a complex and multi-layered take on life, passionate yet spiritual, urbane Taoist, intuitive-altruistic iconoclast considered a superb raconteur by friends is seeking a soulmate who is equally dynamic in mind and body, an accomplished and financially secure professional by day but a spontaneous bon vivant by night, passionate about haute cuisine and long walks in the rain forest, able to rise above the world of pettiness that surrounds us to focus on the big picture while remaining attuned to the piquant beauty of the mundane, in short, a partner who is ready to leave the planet a better place through the enchanted mix of our own wild and wonderful spirits. Serious inquiries only.”
    The bird of paradise, having written a letter identifying itself as the soulmate described, received a reply by return post. Photographs were exchanged and a meeting set. It looked like a perfect match. Over a candlelit dinner, the two lost no time in displaying what they considered their most appealing qualities.	
    “I’m HIV negative, and you?”
    “Of course.”
    “Good then. I’ve just returned from Paris, by the way.”
    “Me, Tokyo.”
    “And I’m off next week for Katmandu.”
    “Machu Picchu.”
    “I’m a jazz and opera aficionado, in that order.”
    “Opera and jazz.”
    “What about world music?
    “Of course.”
    “Cannes Film Festival?”
    “I prefer the Venice Biennale.”
    “Greenpeace and the Sierra Club?”
    “Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International.”
    “Harvard, Yale, MIT.“
    “Stanford, Berkeley, Cal Tech.”
    “Derrida, Foucault, Barthes.”
    “Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs.”
    “Derrida, Foucault, Barthes, and Lacan.”
    “Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs, and Bowles.”
    “Burgundy?”
    “Cabernet?”
    And so it went. By the end of the evening, the two birds realized they’d made a dreadful mistake. They agreed to “chalk the whole thing up to experience” and go their separate ways.
    Both were confident they could do better the next time.