I’ve written about the downfall of the alpha male before. It doesn’t matter what the species, when that fight comes, the top beast versus the challenger, there is no first and second place, there is first and last. When the alpha male loses, he falls to the bottom – if he lives.
It’s just happened to Party Pants, our top cockerel, and now Neo is the bird. Just to be clear – this not just a little punch up where Party Pants walks away muttering I could take him if I wanted to. This is a cock fight – pecking, clawing, slogging it out until only one is left breathing. Or, with the aid of welly intervention, only one is left standing. And they have to be separated with a welly, because no-one in their right mind puts a hand down there. Not if they like the way the skin goes round it as a continuous covering.
Some years ago, we got a call from a neighbour. A young cockerel of ours thought the best trick for getting food and sex was to hang out with the neighbours hens. We got the call because the neighbour’s cockerel was a big bruiser who had just kicked the living crap out of ours. We carried the bleeding heap home, patched him up as best we could, sprayed the multiple puncture wounds with antiseptic and nursed him in a quiet dark place with glucose feeder and warmth for a day or so. Then he died.
|Party Pants in his prime|
So, this is Party Pants, the loser, battered and bloody but with no major penetrating wounds, on account of that welly intervention. The trouble is, his time spent at the top of the heap, high on testosterone-fuelled triumph, has erased the two basic survival skills that every young cockerel learns. Run. Away. Two words, two skills, but they go together.
Party Pants has clearly forgotten both. Take run. It’s not complicated. Run, don’t walk, don’t dawdle, don’t pause to inspect an interesting blade of grass, just run, and keep running, because Neo hasn’t had time to forget running. Neo is good at it. All he has to do is master a new skill to go with run: after. Interestingly enough, Neo has grasped it immediately, and run after so easily leads to catch up, and inflict violence, all because Party Pants hasn’t yet got back into the essential skill of run.
And then there is away. That matters. Not just over there, or perhaps if I stand in this corner, but away. Far away. So far away that Neo no longer wants to run after, because all those hens are his now. So far away that it’s clear that Party Pants no longer even thinks of dipping any appendages into the gene pool. Being top bird is all about possession.
Party Pants is in denial and needs to work on away. Particularly when he can not resist the urge to crow, the great chicken expression of come on, if you think you’re hard enough. (Or, Hey! I’ve got a great big tonka. Very difficult to tell those two apart.) The only concession to defeat: Party Pants is crowing quietly, with his beak between his knees. And frankly, in his current state, I bet his toes are whispering back: come closer and we’ll show you we’re hard enough.
In time, Neo will probably settle down and not need to re-iterate his victory. For now Neo has to assert himself, hence the run after with attendant violence. And he also has to assert himself with the hens, because when he’s not looking, or when Party Pants has managed enough away, certain girls are still hanging around with the old top cock. So Neo is asserting himself, frequently and persistently. There’s an old joke: a god and a mortal woman after a night of wild sex, and he says I’m Thor, and she says, You’re sore? I’m so sore I won’t... Well, you know the rest. If you could translate it into chicken, our hens would get the punchline before you could finish. For now, Neo is asserting; eventually the shine will wear off. If he would just stop polishing.
And Party Pants will re-learn run and away. Or get used to the pain.