I didn’t think I would have a reply to Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s essay on the peacock because I have little experience with the bird. Once I saw one on the roof of a farmhouse in northern Illinois, another time I saw and heard them at a public garden somewhere and then there were the few at that alligator tourist attraction near Orlando, Florida.
Nezhukumatathil doesn’t necessarily focus on peacocks, but on her relationship with them — how she loved them, seeing they all over the place on a trip to India, and how she drew one for an animal drawing contest in grade school, only to be told that the assignment was to draw an American animal. That’s something I can sort of identify with, a teacher calling me out on my artwork involving a bird.
In my case the bird in question was a turkey and in my case I only had to color it, not draw it. We were told to color our turkeys and bring them to the teacher so she could write our names on them for name tags for our desks. When I brought my finished turkey to my fourth grade teacher, made fun of the way I colored it and refused to write my name on it. This is the same teacher that told me I couldn’t sing. To this day I don’t even try to do artwork, even coloring in those grown-up coloring books. Nor do I sing out loud within hearing distance of anyone other than family (and that only rarely).
Aimee Nezhukumatathil finally got over her self-professed hatred of the color blue and finally admitted that peacock blue is her favorite color. In my case — I have not gotten over the stings of criticism from Mrs. Tidwell.