I make my daily visit to the company gym.
Another of the regulars there, apropos of nothing, vouchsafes to me that she is ordering a special backpack for her African Grey parrot, so that she can take it out with her on hiking trips, presumably to torment it with panoramic views of freedom while it remains trapped in its hi-tech mobile cage. Pounding the treadmill next to me, the proud owner is happily oblivious to the irony of the entire concept.
And hiking is not the only extra-mural activity she shares with her bird. According to her, it also enjoys drive-in movies, with a marked prediliction for Hitchcock retrospectives. That’s not to say that the poor creature is some sort of sad, unidimensional character. “Sleepless In Seattle”, starring Meg Ryan, is another favourite. We are dealing with a complex and well-rounded personality here. The parrot, that is, not Meg Ryan, who tends to attack her own reflection in the dressing room mirror whenever left unattended.
While I sympathise – who could ever get enough of “Rear Window”, after all? - I can’t say I approve. I wouldn’t give a parrot the car keys no matter what, and I doubt that it’s insured.
Experts advise that the African Grey is one of the largest and most high-maintenance parrot breeds, and provide a handy three-step guide to recognizing one in the wild:
1) is it large?
2) is it grey?
3) does it have (a) feathers or (b) a trunk?
If the answer to 3 is (b), what you’ve got hold of there is an elephant. Superficial resemblances to the contrary, these are not actually parrots at all, and respond very badly to being placed in small cages and expected to roost on a twig. Let it go and try again.
Some African Greys, yesterday, in their natural habitat. Polly wants some trail mix…