A Relationship Uncaged is For the Birds

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Bud the parrot

Although the first several years were admittedly often painful and sometimes explosively violent, we just celebrated our 35th anniversary.

There was absolutely no reasoning with this beguiling, beautiful female. I guess you could call her “vain,” for at every opportunity she’d just gaze endlessly at herself in the mirror, or anything reflective.

Everyone I know who knows her or who has met her questions why I have had such a long-term relationship.

Well, the answer is two-fold: 1) I love a challenge, and 2) that parrot is so damn cute.

In the early years, “Bud” (because for more than 20 years her owners, Barry and Meryl Resnick of Newport Beach didn’t know the bird’s gender until she dropped an egg) took more chunks and nicks out of my fingers than when I first learned how to use a chisel in my Junior High School woodworking class.

Having had dogs since childhood, and being in the communications field all my professional life, I figured that I could “communicate” with just about anything smarter than an amoeba. Even in my Biology classes, I felt that a paramecium and I had something going under the microscope.

Today, Bud and I have aged together; my once blond hair is what I call Silver Sheen.  Callously, California calls it gray on my driver’s license. Bud has fewer feathers, but his green admittedly is greener than my silver sheen is sheeny.

If Bud could somehow write, his vocabulary is such that he would probably do well on the SAT. This speaking prowess is demonstrated every time the phone rings. When my wife and I babysit Bud, we let him answer the phone. Callers assume that with his, I mean her, high voice, my underwear is too tight.

And we’ve learned not to play music too loudly, for Bud perches on her mangled dowel center stage, and like a Diva sings unwritten arias. She defines “cacophony.” Not symphony.

Only two people I know can kiss Bud: owner Barry, and Prime Babysitter Yours Truly.  Every morning when I take off the nighttime covering to open her cage, Bud steps lightly onto my outstretched hand – the one with beak scars – and looks up for a kiss. Beak to Lips, risky, but no accidents yet. Others have tried that, the result being several weeks of three-times-a-day antibiotic lip balm.

Everybody loves my wife. But not Bud. When Katherine “bravely” (in this case, euphemistic for momentary lapse of reasoning) tries to pet her, Bud lunges out with the speed of a mongoose going for a cobra.

Katherine smartly recoils with the speed of that cobra – hoping in that retreating second that she’s slightly faster. She is…most of the time.

I happen to think that Bud is somewhat jealous of my 50-year-marriage, and wants a monogamous relationship for herself. At least Bud doesn’t want jewelry, just a dangling bauble she can gnaw on.

Whenever I babysit, I send regular Bud reports to the Resnicks, such as: “I didn’t realize the day was so blustery when I took Bud outside for some fresh air. I’m sure she’ll love Catalina.” Or “Bud got out of her cage and landed on the hot stove. Did you know that parrots could tap dance?”

After 35 years of reports, I hope I’m not getting repetitive.

There aren’t many negatives to Bud: she flicks countless sunflower seeds far and wide and sheds downy feathers that always float away from the Swiffer. She has a prodigious intestine. If we were to own Bud, I’d have to subscribe to at least two daily newspapers.  She does compete with the TV. But with all the recent news, her screeches actually are more welcome.

In all my Bud years, I’ve only experienced one failure with her. During one of her extended visits, I tried for more than two weeks to teach Bud the colorful phrases I learned as a seaman in the Coast Guard. That way, when my mother-in-law called, I could lay it all on the bird.

So after three and one-half decades of Bud, as I would have said aboard ship, “I absolutely love that @##$%@&%  bird!”

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