Monday, September 25, 2006

Manbird of Alcatraz

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…

14 comments:

Seamus said...

Maybe you should tell her about this:

http://stjosephsglasthule.com/content/view/35/26/

Or maybe not.

Truly Pope Benedict presides over a many-splendored Church.

Ivan the Terrible said...

Interesting - they bless the pets pretty much the same way they bless combines at harvest time, without commment either way on whether or not they possess souls. As far as I know the church is still pretty definitively down on that idea. Sneaky. But with the Muslims on his case already, the last thing Pope Benedict needs are those PETA arseholes pouring petrol through his letter box too.

In any case, a church blessing is not a good idea for a parrot. All parrots everywhere, ever, have the same vocabulary - namely an unending stream of filthy swearwords. It'd be like when they tried to baptise Damien in the Omen...

R. Sherman said...

Of course, ultimately the bird will turn on her.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

It's a well know fact that Meg Ryan has to have newspaper on the floor on all her shoots.

Rob said...

Ah, a backpack you put the parrot in, not one you put on the parrot. That makes marginally more sense, although I'd imagine both would annoy the parrot. Surely if it loves going places with her, it would sit on her shoulder like a proper parrot? It seems to me there is a lack of trust here, which is not conducive to a healthy relationship. You wait, the minute they're up that mountain, that parrot will be off.

PI said...

Ivan: visits to the gym are - they would have us believe - to get rid of some of that avoir dupois you garnered with your third/ fourth child. It is not an excuse to start chatting up parrot ladies. Why not emulate Randall and get out in the open spaces. Do you have them in North Carolina?

Ivan the Terrible said...

Well spotted Randall - yes, I remember that one.

Sam, the image you supply is as disturbing as it is curiously provocative. It certainly puts an interesting new spin on that famous "Harry Met Sally" moment.

And Rod, a truly intelligent parrot would take at least one ear with it when it goes. Watch this space...

Ivan the Terrible said...

Actually, Pi, one does not "chat up" parrot ladies. One prays desperately for them to shut up!

We do indeed have open spaces, all of which are bathed in oppressive heat and humidity. You can go running outside for sure, provided that you are a big fan of crippling heat stroke.

Desargues said...

A good colleague would suggest to the lady --delicately, of course -- to get out more. And I don't mean in a merely literal sense. Going on hikes alone in the mountains won't do. Surely Charlotte must have a few decent singles' bars. That would benefit 'Ziggy', too. I'm sure he often wishes he'd be left alone.

poltroon said...

Sounds like she was hitting the Acapulco Gold before the African Grey.

Ivan the Terrible said...

Wouldn't be surprised, now that you mention it...

HA HA HA said...

predilection ffs.

Aunty Marianne said...

We had an African Grey. He was a vicious brute that plucked himself naked from loneliness. We put a tomato tin over his head to stop that, and bought him a lady friend. So he plucked her. Meanwhile, his own feathers began to grow back. We had the ugliest parrots in Douala. People would come around just to poke fun at them. We began charging admission.

Sammie said...

My sister sent me your blog addy because I have an AG. I've been laughing at some of the observations here.

Sammie (the bird) has an acrylic carrier and she loves to go for walks with me. I do the walking, she doesn't. When we come inside, she refuses to get out of the carrier but wants to go back outside again.

But, you are right...we DO talk about our birds too often. And, that is because so many people want to know what they say, etc.

Sammie has a very large vocabulary and only speaks one bad word. It was my mistake to download a computer gambling game for my husband as this is where she learned it.

And, look at me. I'm doing what you complained about...going on and on about the bird!