The Story of Spork

Spork was hatched in the arctic, as all good Skuas are.

From the shape and size of the egg, the gynecologist recommended a sonogram to Spork's mother, because he suspected birth defects.

The gynecologist saw that the fetus had a large appendage on his head, a sort of crest, (which Spork calls his "antenna"), and suggested making an omelet out of Spork. After all, one doesn't know what more is wrong with deformed hatchlings -- they are often severely retarded or have behavior problems.

But Mrs. Spork was pro-life and decided to give Spork up for adoption. A foreign, special needs, adoption -- for this was clearly a special needs case -- to get around the local regulation that Birds should be adopted only by Birds to preserve their cultural heritage.

Once she saw the chick, Spork's mother felt she had no choice: Spork was about twice the normal size and his feathers were colored in Crayola-primary yellow which would do nothing to camouflage him in the snow ... and that antenna-- ugh! She could hardly bear to look at it.

Spork was adopted by a very kind and tolerant couple from the West Village in New York City who thought Spork's appearance was "fantastic" -- as did Spork.

Then Spork got to school and had Ms. Meddling for a teacher. She asked to see the parents after class. Spork listened. "I know Spork deosn't mind his antenna now, but just wait until he's an adolescent. He'll get bullied. And it may be too late for an easy surgery by then."

Little Spork was appalled and started to wail: "My antenna is ME!" he screamed and flapped about the classroom.

Ms. Meddling said to Spork, "This behavior must stop. 10 minutes 'Time Out' in the corner." To the parents: "You better listen to our suggestions because we were very reluctant to admit a Bird, let alone a deformed Bird, into our institution; but Spork's test scores were so good (and they were done species-blind) so we were somewhat forced into it if we didn't want to be open to accusations of discrimination."

Spork went on to Stuyvesant High School, where aside from being used as the mascot for football games (thankfully the school played very few actual games) he was treated well. He started out doing brilliantly in every subject, but by his sophomore year, he began taking long walks around the piers and other oozy, dangerous places (he'd just fly if if got too dicey) and missing school. And he also spent a lot of time in bed.

His parents were contacted but they thought he was just getting in touch with his spiritual side; anyway, wasn't he doing better by now again?

Spork always managed to catch up and get good grades but college was coming up and something had to be done. The antenna was again seized upon as the source of all of Spork's trouble, and his parents scheduled him, full of guilt, and with tears in their eyes, for amputation surgery.

Spork ran away from home because he could not bear to have a piece of his body removed. It was part of his identity. He started flying back towards the arctic, wondering who his biological parents were and whether they looked like him.

As he flew and walked uptown through neighborhoods he had always known, he discovered something he had never suspected: Everyone wanted to cut off his antenna. Gentle Yitzhak the Kosher Butcher would do it while draining the blood and without pain.

The dentist would use Novocain.

But most people passing on the street just wanted to yank it off by brute force.

Spork was terrified.

He also began to hear people insult him.

"Look at that bird. He thinks he's a big Knocker because he goes to Stuyvesant and most of us must be content with the school of the nest and informal fountain academies run by crows."

"Who colored him? Pop Art is out! Maybe he's a cartoon? he he he..."

The voices continued even when he plugged his ears.

From that time on, Spork was tormented by cruel voices which insulted him and commented on his life. They sounded like real people talking about or to him, but other people said the voices were "all in his head" and doctors diagnosed him with schizophrenia. He was hospitalized numerous times against his will and forced to take mind-numbing medications which damaged the sheen of his feathers.

Spork was repeatedly sent for behavior modification treatment to correct his "inappropriate and maladaptive behavior," which consisted in chirping, pecking, and insisting he was a bird and could fly. His case manager, nurse, and social worker (she reappeared in various guises throughout Spork's treatment) never realized that Spork actually is a bird...

Despite his illness and the inadequacies of the mental health system, Spork managed to educate himself and became an expert in Computer Security. His services in combatting viruses and spam were in great demand from law enforcement agencies and corporations.

Spork was vividly aware of the contrast between the way the mental health system treated him (as if he were something between a career criminal and a severely retarded three-year-old) and the great respect which he was accorded by his many clients. He also resented that he was unable to charge a market price for his consulting services because that would make him lose his government disability benefits, which he depended on for health care and housing. He therefore became politically active, initially as an advocate for the mentally ill and later on as a supporter of Green causes and a member of the anti-war movement.