At what point do your needs, wants and desires impinge upon your fellow human beings, I wonder?

A lot of it comes down to ‘personal space.’ I know Australians like more personal space than Americans who in turn like a lot more than Arabs. Apparently it’s quite fun to watch an encounter between the two, as an Arab will inch closer and closer, and an American will back away to balance the space, so they perform a perpetual dance. There’s nothing personal or racist about it – it just, well - is.

I had to have an MRI the other day, and I went to it somewhat concerned about being closed in. I realized, thankfully before the scan, that I’m actually not particularly claustrophobic about spaces, but I am about people. Don’t crowd me, and I’m fine – get into my personal space, and unless we’re planning on getting extremely personal, if you catch my drift, get off my cloud.

So imagine the scenario at Newark airport in New Jersey the other day when a woman fronts up with her “emotional support animal” in the form of a peacock. Yes, readers, a fully formed, awfully beautiful peacock from the tip of the beak to the end of its magnificent tail measuring 89 inches and weighing in at 13 pounds.

She was fully prepared to buy a seat for ‘bird nurse,’ but strangely enough the airline not only declined her offer, but also declined the bird on the grounds that it rather overstepped the weight and size limitations of support animals.

Now it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to work that one out, would it? But after a six-hour stand-off with the airline, the would-be passenger and avian companion decided to make the trip to LA by road.

I am all for offering emotional support to people; I’m always good for a hug and a ‘there-there’, but I really think a peacock might just impinge – just a tiny bit – on my personal space, at which point I will become less and less caring about your emotions, and more concerned with my own.

Can you imagine the flight attendant giving the safety spiel? “We have six fabulous exits,” he will instruct, now using arms and hands for illustration. “Two in front, two over the wings, and – oh my goodness,” at which point, the peacock having heard the word “wing” decides there must of course be a likely peahen on board and goes into full fanning of tail mode, knocking out the passengers in 15b, c and e.

This will naturally be accompanied by the peacock’s rather strident call – a little like a cross between a strangled Siamese cat and a distraught baby, which of course will alert the pilot, and a small group of SWAT personnel will burst onto the plane to perform an immediate rescue of all in peril.

No doubt at this point the peacock decides this is all way below his dignity, offers a "sorry sister, you’re on your own" to his erstwhile keeper, and deplanes in a flurry of very pretty feathers to seek his own emotional support in more peaceful climes.

Oh, did I mention the owner is an artist? I suspect emotional support really equaled 15 minutes of fame, but I should probably not be so cynical. Should I?

-- Annie Dear lives in Lee’s Summit. Email her at