It is a full-on parrot day today. The weather is beautiful outside and the parrots are in a rambunctious mood. It is not spring, but the sun is out and it is 60 degrees with little wind or cloud cover. The African Grays are chasing each other around the apartment, fighting over a bag and their current chew box or bird condo. They love for me to chase them with the canvas shopping bag and attempt to bag them. I refer to this game as, “chicken in a bag.” We replaced our toaster oven, and the birds have chewed about 45% of it’s box to scrap. Whenever we get a sizable box, we stuff it with smaller ones, seal it, cut a hole in one side and they are happy to help with paper recycling. Their beaks are like fingernails or hair, so the two always need something to chew. Without the boxes, it would be furniture, door molding, books, or what ever gets their fancy in the moment.
Apollo takes a break to whistle a single note as loud as he can for 10 minutes, punctuated with Caliban’s favorite tag line, “Pooh-key-key-bird.” I am attempting to work. I have a report due for a writing group at the Mechanic’s Institute in SF. It is a private library and the group is researching publishing on demand. The specification and price information is extremely dry, so I focus intently on it.
My legs are up on an ottoman as I research and write, and I feel a tug on my trousers. I look down and one of my pets is crawling up my leg, trading glances with me and my tea glass. Apollo proceeds up the length of my leg, across my waist, and furiously taps his beak and head on the backside of my laptop. I don’t know how I know, he doesn’t ask, but I pick up my tea glass and offer him a drink. After several gulps, he flies off.
I sigh and attempt to regain my place when out of the corner of my eye, I see a much larger grey parrot bobbing, strutting, and circling my ottoman.
“What do you want?” I ask Caliban. No reply, and he bobs his head. “Yes, what?”
He stares at me for a moment and proceeds with his circuit. I can’t seem to find my place on the specification document, so I sigh, pick up my tea glass, and lean down to him. Caliban wipes his beak on the side of my glass, he always wipes his beak, and gulps tea for 2 or 3 minutes. He stops and I rise up. I am assuming he is going back to play.
I begin typing. I’ve found my place in trim sizes and publisher costs, and I hear a loud pop. Caliban is still circling my leather ottoman, and he nips it to get my attention. I shout, “NO.” He stops in his tracks, and although birds can’t smile, he is smiling at me. Go away, I am busy doesn’t get my point across, so I have to resort to the dreaded “broom” word.
I’ve never swatted them, but just herded them a little; a broom completely intimidates the two grays. I can reach them from afar in their airspace with it, and if I brush the ceiling my meaning is immediately understood. I usually don’t have to go that far. The word is enough to get them to return to their cage. Today is not one of those days.
Apollo, on top of his box, turns and looks at me. Caliban runs one or two feet away, and as I look down at my laptop again, he circles back. I try one more “BROOM,” to little effect. He stops, and stares at me. I know he is grinning again, I think my enforcer code word is now a game.
I set my laptop down and get up out of my chair. He is still staring at me, but over his shoulder. Caliban is ready to run. I walk over to the closet, open the door, and pull out the dreaded broom. Apollo screeches his warning call, and Caliban beeps as he runs for the cage, bobbing all the way. I put the broom back, and return to my char. Apollo is sitting on top of his squawking and clicking, deriding Caliban. He is opening and closing his wings. I think it must be a bird thing, but each time he opens his wings, he makes a gulping sound.
Apology or giggle, I don’t know. I work for another ten minutes, just long enough to regain focus, when out of my periphery I see a large african grey circling my ottoman. Today is a day for the office or a coffee café, well out of reach of silly birdbrain games. Maybe I’ll just take a walk.