Monday, September 26, 2011
Birds of a Feather
I never thought I’d meet someone who made the parrot lady look normal. That woman used to come into the store with 2 parrots, one perched on her shoulder pirate-style and the other in a filthy old baby carriage. They were huge tropical creatures with meter long tail feathers, beaks like the Kraken and evil tempers to match. Once, in all innocence I asked her if her birds performed any tricks and she answered of course they did. She placed one of them on the floor and said, “poop Reginald, poop, poop”, and beamed proudly when the wretched beast crapped on my floor. Good trick!
But this morning, Madame Parrot met her match. A lady came into the store murmuring quietly to herself and holding a bag to her chest and as she moved down the aisle I thought I heard a muted shriek of distress. Now, I’m deaf in one ear so I can’t tell where the sound is coming from. It might be that damn feral cat caught in the basement again or the elderly painting class next door having another gin-and paint party, so I get up to investigate and I hear the sound again, but this time it sounds like a bird gurgling. A very sad gurgle. Whatever was in the woman’s bag started to coo and bloody gurgle with each breath and finally I said, lady, do you have a bird in your bag? She said yes, yes, my dove. I tried to smile but I’m not sure what kind of facial expression I formed. She turned away and began saying things like, “there, there, we’re going home soon, momma’s almost finished, is baby tired?” I had a terrible thought. What if there was no bird! What if she was in the terminal stages of Organic Crazy Person Syndrome? I had to know, so I walked over and said, can I see your bird? Now if you ask that question of a person that isn’t carrying around a bird, you risk assault, but I’m relieved to report that there was indeed a bird in her bag. A comfortable looking, clean white dove in a bed of fresh green grass.