Some time ago I wrote that I shared my office with a small parrot. This prompted the publishers of "Bird World" to send me their magazine every other month.
I leaf through it from time to time and find it very depressing. Everyone has a gifted bird but me. It reminds me of when my children were smaller and I used to go to open house at school. Everyone else's offspring had elaborate projects and dazzling artwork. My kids always had a pathetic little piece of construction paper with their own hands drawn in prayer and a message, "Oh come Holy spit."Barney (that's my bird's name) doesn't do anything. He eats, drinks, flies around the room a few times a week, drops a bomb on my desk and says "telephone" when it isn't ringing.
Given that background, you can understand my frustration when I read in Bird World, "You can teach your bird to roller-skate like a show bird." Sounds too good to be true? For $34.95 plus postage, I can send off for little training roads with skates attached and a manual on how to show my feathered friend a good time.
The picture showed a bird, not unlike mine, who was having the time of his life. For a moment I created a picture in my mind of Barney skating up and down the hallways, his wings flailing about as we jump to get out of his way. I could make him a little costume with sequins, and maybe later I could get him ice skates and he and Nancy Kerrigan could do a number together.
Then I remembered the "Carmen" cassette. For $14.95, I got a recording, plus a booklet on how I could get Barney to sing arias from this popular opera. For three weeks, every daylight hour I played "Carmen" by his cage. In all that time, he never uttered a word. I, on the other hand, was babbling incoherently and had to be counseled.
I was ready to toss the magazine aside when I saw another tantalizing ad. "You've got talent, baby. I can make you a star!" It was a contest where you entered a four- to five-minute video of your bird doing something fantastic. He could have a little kerchief around his neck and be line dancing, or have a small guitar over his shoulder and do an Elvis impersonation, or maybe recite the Gettysburg Address.
I looked at Barney. It was 10 a.m. and he was on his first nap of the day. Experts say parrots outlive humans. Maybe it just seems longer.