One day we got an email from a guy claiming to be a penguin. He said he heard that we were creating a new e-greeting card website featuring “semi-beautiful poetry,” and he wanted to know how he could get involved.
Who would have guessed that penguins could be interested in semi-beautiful poetry? Of course we assumed that this was a prank. After all we live in California, home to more than its share of creative people. But it was such a novel pitch we wanted to meet this guy. We were going to be in Los Angeles the following week so we arranged to meet the “penguin” at a fresh fish shop near the pier in Santa Monica, a couple of hours from our home.
To our amazement, the guy we thought was a prankster turned out to be an actual two-foot-tall penguin with a bright orange beak. He wore glasses and a red beret, and he spoke English with a rhythmic Spanish accent. He told us he was a Gentoo, born on Prince Edward Island in the Subantarctic.
We knew penguins weren’t confined to the Antarctic; in fact we knew they lived in New York’s Central Park Zoo. The zoo habitat was kept at near freezing, but this was Southern California. When we asked him about that, he told us the fish shop where he worked was cool enough in the back, and when it got too hot he cooled off in the freezer and slept there at night.
We asked where he learned to speak English. When he was two years old, he was unofficially adopted by a group of American and Spanish researchers that came to the island to study his colony. One of the researchers, a Basque woman, said he so lifted their spirits that she named him Peli, a Basque word meaning happy.
He hung around in their hut and learned the language by listening to their conversations and watching American movies with Spanish subtitles on DVD. When the researchers left, he returned to the colony, but it was never the same. None of the other penguins spoke English or Spanish, so he felt like an outsider.
Six months later a Hollywood film crew arrived on the island to follow the penguin migration, and they hired Peli as a translator. After the filming, he convinced the production manager to smuggle him into California. Unfortunately, Peli didn’t hit it off with the manager’s German Sheppard and within a week he was out on the street looking for work. He got hired at the fish shop, but his first love was language. He auditioned for some cartoon work, but he wasn’t a good enough dancer to make the cut.
We asked him why he wanted to work with us. He said he had listened to some of our early audio greeting cards on GreetingTunes.com, and liked our sense of humor. When he read we were shifting our focus to video e-cards, he wanted to join us. He said his passion was making people happy and our e-cards seemed like a good opportunity. He could also help write some articles for our blog, giving it a unique point-of-view.
We told him we would think it over and we returned home.
A few days later we concluded that Peli might be just what we needed. Being around him for just an hour made us feel happy. He was the perfect character to reflect the kind of “semi-beautiful poetry” we hoped to create. So we offered him the job as our muse and gave him the title, Director of Happiness.
That’s how Peli became a part of GreetingPIX. He is a great little guy and we hope you enjoy learning more about him and his ideas for making the world a little happier.