Here’s the transcript of an interview I did with an Emu named Cecil back in 2008 as part of series that focused on stay-at-home Dads from other species. Looking back, I passed up on a great opportunity to learn a lot from Cecil by focusing too closely on some specific behaviors. As a result the interview ended in disagreement before any actual discussion on child-rearing could be entered in to.
If you’re reading this Cecil, I hope you’ll accept my apology and I’d love the chance to interview you again in the future.
Reservoir Dad: Welcome Cecil. I’m really looking forward to getting to the specifics of your approach to child-rearing and home duties but I’m really… uh… amazed at some other facts that I’ve come across while researching for this interview. Do you mind if I satisfy my own curiosity before we get to home-Dadding specifically?
Cecil: Not at all. This is an exercise in getting to know other species and I’m all for it.
RD: Great. Okay. Now, reading from Wikipedia, once the male Emu begins to incubate the eggs they don’t “ eat, drink or defecate” for nearly two months…
Cecil: Yep? That’s right…
RD: How the hell do you do that?
Cecil:Well, you stop eating… the rest takes care of itself.
RD: Yeah, but why? I mean, can’t someone bring you some food?
Cecil: We don’t really think about our own welfare at that stage. Making sure the eggs are well cared for is the most important thing a male Emu will ever do.
RD: But can’t you just have a little food? Something small occasionally? I mean, what if I come past and drop a few live but legless grasshoppers on the ground or something.
Cecil: Nope. Wouldn’t be interested.
RD: Some Saltbush catepillars?
RD: How about some ladybirds? Come on, you’re telling me you’d sit there for a month and not eat a handul of ladybirds if I stuck them right under your beak?
Cecil: I’m not interested in food at that time, okay? We’re not like you humans. We don’t watch giant plasmas and tap away at our i-phones while we throw a ball to the kids. We like to be present, really present, the entire time we’re with the kids.
RD: But you’re just sitting there, man. You could easily nibble on something. I’m worried you guys don’t look after yourself. And if you can’t look after yourself how can you look after your kids? Seriously?
Cecil: We don’t just sit there.
RD: What else do you do?
Cecil: Well, we have to stand up and turn the eggs.
RD: How often?
Cecil: Ten times a day sometimes.
RD: Yeah, well… still seems like a lot of downtime. You’re just keeping the eggs warm, aren’t you? You’re like a giant electric blanket. Couldn’t you get your partner to sit on the eggs for a while, so you can get out and do something?
Cecil: Look, there’s a certain issues surrounding that but… don’t go there…
RD (clicking through Wikipedia): Oh shit, I see – “… infidelity is the norm for Emus despite the initial pair-bond: once the male starts brooding, the female mates with other males…”. Sorry mate. That’s gotta hurt.
Cecil: Stings a bit.
RD: So that’s why males sit on the eggs for two months and don’t eat – they’re depressed.
Cecil: Pretty much.
RD: Still seems strange to me though. I mean, I’ve been depressed before – five times when The Cats lost Grand Finals but, shit man, I still defecated.
Cecil: Yeah, well that’s you, RD. Everyone’s different. Can’t you see that? When I’m depressed, I don’t defecate. I just don’t.
RD: Okay okay. Sorry mate.
Cecil: ‘salright. Anyway, it’s all worth it when you first see their cute little faces poking out of the eggs.
RD: Um, sounds like it could be the hormones talking here… I don’t want to add to the misery but have you had a close look at an emu face?
Cecil: You’re very harsh. I’m starting to feel a bit depressed already and we’re not even in breeding season yet. I mean, take away a faithful missus and some gorgeous kids and what is there to live for?
RD: Two words, mate – Massive Plasma.
RD: Moving on. I interviewed an Emperor Penguin for Home Dads in the Wild # 1. He seemed to have an issue with his small arms. I notice that you also have very small arms, in comparison to your size. Do you have difficulty expressing your affection for your young ones, considering your inability to hug?
Cecil: We have some serious arm envy, don’t worry about that. But what we lack in arm we definitely make up for in size. So if I was you I’d be a bit more careful with the questions.
RD: What do you mean?
Cecil: I’m six foot five. How tall are you?
RD: About six foot.
Cecil: There you go…
RD: Yeah, but you’re all legs and neck. Take them out of the picture and you’re just a giant pom-pom.
Cecil: Careful buddy. It’s mating season soon. And in mating season our testosterone levels surge and our testicles double in size. Put that in your Wikipedia and smoke it.
RD: Watch out! The giant pom-pom has balls.
Cecil: That’s it. This interview is over.
RD: Thanks for your time Cecil.
Cecil: And I’ll be telling my mates Jeff the Pouched Frog and Darryl the Spotted Sandpiper to think twice before agreeing to an interview.
RD: I don’t like threats. Why don’t you use your massive legs to get the hell out of here?
Cecil: We’re part of the same minority group buddy! We should be banding together not tearing shreds of each other. Why can’t SAHDs just get along? Why can’t we all just get along!?