Monday, January 16, 2006

Baby Penguins

It's been Arctic-ly cold in the city for the past couple of days. I was in Union Square today doing a little shopping, and stopped into Virgin Records. They were having their Big Red Sale: everything $10 except the stuff you're looking for.

I went downstairs to the video department, and several screens were showing the movie about the penguins. I got caught up in it and stood there, transfixed, watching the penguins walk and slide to their mating ground, and the father penguins tucking the eggs under their bellies and walking on their heels.

A pimply-faced young sales clerk asked if he could help me. He looked concerned. He tried to interest me in a sale on "Napoleon Dynamite."

"No, thanks. I'm fine." And went back to watching the penguins fend off predators. One mother penguin was full of anguish because she'd lost her chick, and she tried to steal another penguin's chick, but the group closed ranks and fought her off. The camera showed a close-up of the baby penguin safe between its mother's legs, its baby birdy face looking directly into the camera with sharp black eyes. I wondered if it would need penguin therapy when it grew up.

I gave in and bought the movie, which was on sale. I went down into the subway and past the newsstand, where the headlines on the News and the Post screamed, as they have for the past four days, about the seven-year-old girl in Brooklyn who was beaten to death by her stepfather. I kept the DVD in my pocket, the baby penguins being warmed by the down of my coat.

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