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I told Gill this week of the saddest story in the local paper. It was a story about a lovelorn widower who had lost his longtime mate five years before. He was so lonely…you could just see his listless demeanor, his woebegone look. Even friendly attempts at matchmaking were lost on him. He was so incensed at one attempt to find him another true love, he ran her off…probably took after the ‘dating coach’ as well.

I know Gill can identify with this since she, like Crazy D and L’il Sis, has also had that experience. Well-meaning friends try to set them up, but…nothing. My three even tried online dating — with horrible results, so I’d be the last to recommend Match.com or its ilk to solve Otis’s relationship woes.But even the Internet likely doesn’t have a matchmaking service for swans.

Oh, did I neglect to mention Otis is a swan? My bad.

It seems that Otis lives in a local and well-known pond in one of our largest parks. He swims back and forth, all day every day, until the cold weather comes and he is ‘boarded’ inside in the close town of Stratford with their gaggle of Thames river swans. (Why is it that every former British colony has cities, streets, parks and rivers named after those in the Motherland? When recently in New Zealand, I discovered Christchurch’s Thames River with swans also! Couldn’t the Brits, just once for novelty’s sake, think of another method to name things? I personally believe “Our Pond Of Sludge”                       has a fine ring to it…and a certain air of authenticity.)

The story of Otis was one I knew Gill would appreciate since she is, like the rest of this besotted family, a bird lover. I knew it would also appeal to her since, living as she does in the UK, she would know about (and probably have stalked– for innocent purposes only) the Queen’s swans — the ones that hang around on her estates and ponds, etc. And as I recall from my time in England years ago, swans are on the Thames and most other tourist sites near rivers. The stunning birds are greatly revered. (I won’t mention that, since the British swans technically belong to The Queen, she is apparently the only one allowed to EAT them! I’m sure she doesn’t, but I think, strictly from a PR standpoint, she might want to update that law so nobody can eat them. They’re too beautiful. And, as Otis is proving, they show emotion, have strong mating bonds, and are capable of loneliness without their mate. Why, their unions last longer than most of the human marriages in North America!)

Perhaps Gill and I could start a ‘lovelorn column’ for Otis. We could do an online site but who knows what kind of crazies and psychos that might attract? The good people who take Otis to Stratford to ‘winter over’ with their 30 swans have tried enticing him with females from the flock. No luck. No electricity, no sparks with any of them. Although, as I mentioned, several feathers did fly when he took an instant dislike to one of the ‘bachelorette candidates’. She just didn’t tick all of his boxes, I guess. No rose for her.

Who knows what turns on a swan? Was she too fat from eating the taboo bread tourists insist on throwing into the pond despite signs not to do so? Did she not share his interests? Was her personal hygiene not up to snuff? (Although I don’t understand how the local swans always appear impeccably groomed and pristinely white, living in the somewhat fetid pond water as they do..) Did she natter on and on about silly things, her constant honking driving him nuts? So many possibilities.

Or perhaps Otis just doesn’t have that special something any more, the signal to a female that he was capable of raising and providing well for a family. I guess it’s hard to feign interest when you know you’ve lost your one true soulmate. Or perhaps, and I hate to suggest this, he had heard things, things that made him view her as a harlot, seeing another swan on the side, merely wanting only to ‘toy’ with him ?

It is my understanding that the swan keepers are not giving up hope that Otis will find true love again. Perhaps this season they will introduce another female to Otis and hope they circle each other, blow bubbles, weave their heads rhythmically back and forth for each other, signaling that this is The One’.

I certainly hope this happens ’cause if it doesn’t, some local tech genius is going to have to create an app for that — otherwise, this entire city will be heartbroken for Otis to spend another year alone. Our park deserves better than this!

Until then, don’t give up, Otis!