Al: Tell me about yourself if you wouldn't mind. You are the first ostrich that I've ever met, to say nothing of interviewing. First of all, how did you get the name, Oedipus?
Oedipus: My owner, Nick, gave the name to me. He was making a literary allusion to the character in the Greek tragedy, Oedipus Rex. Oedipus denied that he had an incestuous relationship with his mother. To Nick, this denial reminded him of the folklore that ostriches bury their heads in sand to avoid problems. He's coming over to us now. Before he gets here, let me introduce to you my wife, Electra-Carmen Electra.

Al: Nice to meet you Electra. Oedipus has been gracious to spend some time with me today. I hope that I don't interfere with anything.

Electra: No problem. It's nice to meet you.

Oedipus: Nick, this is Al Campbell; he's a columnist that came to interview me.

Nick: Nice to meet you. So, you came to interview Oedipus. You'll find him an interesting "bird." He doesn't often take to strangers and rarely will talk to them. I've got some things to do around the barn. If I can be of any help, just give me a shout, but I'm sure that Oedipus will be able to answer any of your questions.

Al: Thanks for letting me talk to your ostrich. I won't keep him long.

Nick: Take all the time you need.

Al: Oedipus, where did ostriches come from?

Oedipus: Well, ostriches originally came from the African Savannah, and we've been around long before human beings. We were imported to America in the last couple hundred years. Today, they say that there are more Ostriches in the United States than in Africa. We have been mentioned in the Bible and lots of other historical writings from Pliny to Shakespeare. The Egyptians loved ostriches and so did the Zoroastrians. In fact, the followers of Zoroaster considered us the divine bird of the storm. The Babylonians, on the other hand, considered us to be evil. Ever since human beings first laid eyes upon ostriches, we have fascinated them. We are, after all, a very large bird reaching up to eight feet tall and weighing in around three hundred pounds.

Al: You are large, but you can't fly, can you?
Oedipus: Nope! We are flightless because of our weak pectorals. However, we are the fastest and the largest two-legged birds in the world. Our land speed of 40 mph helps us to avoid most of our predators-except for human beings.

Al: I'm sorry about that.
Oedipus: People have killed us for our feathers and our leather. Did you know that we can produce three or four pounds of feathers per bird. Nick will probably want to show you a and some eggs and a hide. I don't like that personally, that kid was a friend of mine. People even grind-up our feet and use the powder as an aphrodisiac. Fortunately for us, Viagara has cut down of our being used to enhance male sexual prowess.

Al: Viagra has certainly saved the day for all ostriches.

Oedipus: Well, Viagra might have saved some of us, but even more destructive to us was the way you human beings got into a health kick of lowering your cholesterol and fat intake. Ostriches are a wonderful source of low-fat and low-cholesterol red meat. Nick likes to say that we are the meat of the new millenium. If that gets around, I'll lose more friends and faster. However, you should see him out on his Harley delivering the ostrich meat to his customers. It would be funnier if they weren't my friends that he was delivering.

Al: I'm sorry about that also.
Oedipus: Well, be that as it may, we continue to be victimized by humans. Long ago, people have discovered that we are like chickens in that, if you take away our eggs, females will lay an egg almost every week all year round. Those eggs are then hatched in incubators and the offspring are raised like you would raise chicks from eggs.

Al: I didn't know that. I thought that we just made very large omelets with them?

Oedipus: That's not funny. However, ostrich eggs can weigh over three pounds. One of our eggs equals about two dozen hen eggs. I bet that you didn't know that either. At any rate, our eggs are used for breeding purposes or for decorating.

Al: Decorating?
Oedipus: Oh, yes. Many people consider it a real art form. Our eggs are nothing like the Easter eggs that you hide for your children. These are very ornate and intricate pieces of fine art. But I don't think that you should use our eggs for art. That's why you have canvas on which to paint so that you don't have to use our next generation.

Al: Tell me about how ostriches raise their chicks in the wild.

Oedipus: Well, it takes about a month and a half for an ostrich egg hatch. The chick, when it comes out, is nearly a foot tall and can grow a foot per month until it reaches maturity. By eighteen months, female ostriches can start breeding and will continue until about the age of forty-five. In nature, the male sits on the egg at night while the female does daytime duty. It should be noted that males care for the chicks until they are able to take care of themselves. Let me show you what my mating dance looks like.

Al: I have watched several of your friends pecking at anything they see including people.

Oedipus: We don't actually peck at people. We are only very curious about anything we see-like shinny things like your ring. Look, this won't hurt a bit. See? Did that hurt? Also, note how large my eyes are. Actually, our eyes are larger than our brains. Please, no jokes about that either. We have very good eyesight, and we are very inquisitive about what our eyes see.

Speaking about our brains, the Roman Emperor Heliogabalus was extremely fond of our brains. It has been reported that on one occasion, he had a banquet where he served over six hundred ostrich brains. I believe that he not only enjoyed the taste but felt that ingesting ostrich brains would improve his mental capacities. I'm glad that that tradition didn't catch on like the aphrodisiac one did.

Al: Oedipus, you mentioned that Nick names you because of the folklore about ostriches sticking your heads in the sand. What are your suggestions regarding denial and not sticking ones head in the proverbial sand.
Oedipus: My suggestion, which is based upon personal experience, is to face the music. We all tend to try to avoid painful situations whether ostriches or people. However, when we do that, it merely compounds the problem. It is like just paying interest on a credit card bill-the debt merely gets larger as time goes by.

Al: That makes sense, but it is hard to be proactive about problems. Whenever I confront a painful situation, I often pull away from the problem-hoping that it will go away.
Oedipus: Well, that is a natural response for all animals. However remember what Mark Anthony said in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, "Cowards die many times before their death, the valiant taste of death but once." I'm not denying the pain, but not facing the pain merely causes you to absorb the pain each time you think about it. Suppose you are afraid to deal with a problem at work. Facing the music may be painful. However, each time you worry about it, you suffer the pain again and again. If you postpone confronting a problem for a week, you could have inflicted the pain upon yourself dozens of times by procrastinating. Had you just dealt with it quickly, you would have saved yourself a lot of grief.

Al: Sounds like a good idea, but I just don't like having to face problems.

Oedipus: I know what you mean. I use to dread seeing new problems come my way, but I learned to welcome problems. Problems are merely assets-opportunities for success.

Al: How's that?
Oedipus: Problems provide you with golden opportunities to change the status quo. If you seize the problems, you can make them work for you. The guy that cares for me and the rest of my friends was downsized right out of a mediocre job-one in which he would have stayed until he retired. You can imagine the shock and depression when he was let go. He could have just sat back in his depressed mood and felt sorry for himself. However, he took the problem and creatively came up with another job. He started this ranch. He liked animals and the loss of his job that wasn't going anywhere allowed him to think of other possibilities. Look at him now. He is happy with us and his ranch. The problem became a blessing.

Take a problem that you are facing and assume that it is a blessing and not a curse. If you do, you will find opportunity to improve your situation. Try it; you'll like the results. I promise you.

Al: Okay, I'll do that.
Oedipus: But make sure that you start your problem solving with the belief that it will work for you. Henry Ford said, "You can believe you can or you can believe you can't, either way you will be correct."

Al: You're certainly well read.
Oedipus: Well, if you keep your eyes and ears open, you'll learn a lot just by observing.

Al: Well, you are a great spokesperson for this view.
Oedipus: Experience is a great teacher. I've tried to avoid pain, but it is too painful to do so. Here comes Nick, again. I'll ask him to show you our newborns chicks. He'll probably show you his collection of eggs and leather products. I hate that, but it's ranch.

Oedipus: Nick, would you show Al our recent offspring?

Nick: Sure, come along to the barn. I'll show you some eggs and leather goods also.

Note: Oedipus wouldn't appreciate this, but you can order ostrich meat from Nick Stama, Wild Dream Ostrich Ranch, 10332 Singer Lake Rd., Baroda, MI 49101. His telephone number is 1-616-422-1211.