By Wes J. Pimentel
It’s weird how a set of circumstances can blend to ultimately produce a truly unique situation, in which you find yourself wondering how the hell you got there. This is the true story of how I ended up in a bathroom, taking a shit, with a parrot on my shoulder. I’ll relate the factors that contributed to this unlikely situation, and then I’ll finish up with a little analysis of causality.
So, there I was, being held hostage in the downstairs bathroom of my mother’s house. Shitting. This crap was unique because I had an audience. Usually when you poop, there’s no one else around. Your mind just kind-of wanders, then you’re done, and your day continues. It’s hard for your mind to wander when there’s someone else there. It’s hard to focus on anything else, in fact. Well, since my little voyeur happened to be a bird, I was having bird-sized thoughts about him. At first I wondered if the smell was offending him. Then, I got all scientifical with it. Since smells are really tiny particles of the thing you’re smelling, wouldn’t that mean that this bird’s tiny little smell receptors are being bombarded by particles of my poo, which in relation would be much larger than they are to our receptors? That’s nasty.
Right about then is when it dawned on me. What the hell am I doing shitting, with a parrot on my shoulder? It was at this very moment that I discovered what the word “causality” means. As I started examining all the factors that led to this probably-rare occurrence, I had a moment of awed enlightenment. Damn, life’s weird!
My mother has had this bird, Joker, for years. He’s one of the most amazing animals you could encounter. He’s green, yellow and red; parrot-sized; he has an astoundingly diverse vocabulary and sound effects repertoire; and is smarter than many humans. You can’t help but be enamored with this little guy. When you encounter an animal like this, the obvious question is, “Is he friendly?” or “Does he bite?” or some appropriate variation. Well, with this particular beast/genius it depends. If you are a female, have at it. He’ll dance for you, ask you to pet his cute little head, make pretty noises, and just generally charm the dickens out of you. If you’re an adult male, you might want to pay off the deductible on your health insurance. My mom has a German shepherd in the house as well, and Joker makes the dog look like Gizmo. He will only play nice with two male adults in this world; my uncle (his first owner, who gave him to my mom) and my grandfather (the 80-year-old deadbeat whose unemployed status afforded him the opportunity to befriend the evil bastard bird over the course of a couple of months). That’s it. If you’re a guy and you’re not one of them, you’d better hope that little bastard is in his cage when you walk out into that backyard.
Now, I remember Joker from years ago, before he became the jaded old bastard he is today. He used to be friendly with everyone. I haven’t been in my mom’s house in a long time, though. Well, a lot has happened in these past few years. I think that what has led him to be a man-hater more than anything else is the fact that my step-dad has put him in the “hospital” twice (the same man who picked up the German shepherd by the loose skin over his spine and bit the crap out of her). Anyway, to make a long story short, the first time he “accidentally” (mom’s quotation marks) stepped on him, and the second time he punted Joker into a wall after slamming him on the ground. Apparently my step-dad thought it was OK to remove the bird from his shoulder before Joker was ready to be removed, and Joker expressed his disagreement by biting his finger. Hard. So, you can imagine how treatment of this caliber from adult males might leave some post-traumatic scars associated with guys. Either way, if you’re a guy, watch out.
I learned this lesson the hard way. As soon as you walk out into his backyard, he lets you know you’re not welcome. I’m no biologist or zoologist, but I know aggression when I see it. This is no Tweety bird. His ruffled appearance, splayed tail feathers and beak-sharpening lets you know right away he means business. As long as he’s in his cage, you feel safe, though.
Well, one day, my grandfather had let Joker out of his cage. I walked out into the backyard and there he was; standing on top of his cage. The tricky little bastard did not look aggressive at this point. Well, I was about to find out how discrete parrots can be and how deliberately calm they can appear as they size you up. My grandfather was chasing the parakeet, Joker’s next door neighbor, around the backyard. After being freed, Joker likes to share his good fortune with his little buddy and routinely goes over and opens the parakeet’s cage as well. I walked over to the cage and he just slowly walked over, exhibiting no aggression at all, like he wanted to be picked up. I thought Aw, he likes me. I offered my forearm and fell right into his trap. That fucker did a little nose-dive-type maneuver and bit into my forearm like a pit-bull. My immediate inclination was to slam him to the ground and punt him against a wall. But, like Robocop, I could not ignore my prime directive, which was to befriend the evil bastard. I relaxed my body and just smoothly swung him back toward his cage. He did a little trapeze move and landed on his cage like a seasoned pro, which was pretty easy, since he was attached to my arm by only his beak and was flapping his wings the whole time to stabilize himself. I checked my arm and it looked like someone had taken a giant, blunt set of wire-cutters to it. I looked back at Hell-beak and his whole demeanor had changed. He looked like he had read my mind about wanting to punt him and he was choosing fight over flight.
At this point, my grandfather yelled for me to open the parakeet cage door, as he had almost coaxed the little guy back in. Well, unbeknownst to me, Joker’s territory extends far beyond his own cage, encompassing the parakeet’s cage, as well as other parts of the house and backyard. As soon as I touched the cage, that green devil flew at me like a harpy. I literally had to duck to evade the attack. He did a u-turn in mid-air and almost landed on my back. Well, that was it. The reality that this bird’s hostility toward unfamiliar men had developed into a martial art hit me with the force of a brick-breaking fist and I was out of there. I ran back in the house and slammed the sliding door behind me, content to be emasculated by this half-pint horror.
Obviously, getting in this bird’s good graces was going to be a challenge. I don’t easily back down from challenges. What this meant was that I had to a) find out how my grandfather did it, b) do it and c) be patient (these little bastards live to be about a hundred years old, so I knew he could wait me out); which brings me to the day in question.
I was just sitting there at the kitchen’s bar, in one of the bar-stools, taking a meal break from transcribing my work. It was a weekend morning and I was alone in the house. Joker had let himself out of his cage and he walked up to the sliding glass-door. He looked at me expectantly, as if to telepathically knock. He looked so adorable and smart that I just couldn’t resist. Not to mention, I had been kissing his ass for weeks after he jumped me; bringing him Buffalo wings (which he loves), talking to him and just generally giving him attention.
So, I opened the door and in he waddled. As soon as he crossed the door I remembered why we’re not supposed to let him in. He loves to chew up wires. Telephone, cable, power cords, it doesn’t matter. If it’s an insulated wire, cable, or cord, he’s going to chomp right in. At the recollection of this, my first inclination was to put him back outside, but remember how much it was killing me that he didn’t approve of me. Please consider that it was torture to watch him snuggle up with any floozy that walked through the door, and eat food right out of my grandfather’s mouth, or call to my uncle by name for attention. I wanted in, man! I had to be a part of this club, so instead of banishing him to the backyard, I allowed this tiny infraction and committed myself to keeping an eye on him. Sure enough, he walked right up to the first wire he saw and just about bit in when I yelled, “Hey!” and sent him flying upstairs. I had to corner him in one of the bedrooms. He made a valiant effort to evade capture, but I just waited for him to tire himself out and just came over with a towel-protected forearm and offered it. He knew it was over, so he just conceded to being picked up and I walked him over to the computer and sat down to write. I gave him a pen to chew on and began typing again. We really connected for a while. He ended up chillin’ on my shoulder (while I dreaded having my eyeball gouged out by a parrot), and for just a moment, I felt like we really were buddies, which finally brings me to the pooping.
I had to use the bathroom. I had a genius, wire-destroying airborne animal on my shoulder. If I headed toward the backyard he would simply fly off my shoulder and I’d have to chase him down again, or worse, he would attempt to “steer” me by indicating his displeasure with my direction via a light mauling of my neck tendon. That thought put me in the bathroom with a parrot. The thought that kept him on my shoulder was as I shit was that I knew damn-well he was staying on my shoulder until he said “when” and not a second sooner. I knew if I reached at him to remove him for a more comfortable defecation experience, he would do to my finger what he’s done with countless wires, which is pull out what’s inside. So, I just sat down at the mercy of this vicious, maimer of digits and did my business.
That’s the story of how I ended up taking a poop with a parrot on my shoulder. I think the lesson here is that there are certain situations in life, which if given the appropriate amount of neurotic analysis, will yield very important information about the phenomenon of cause and effect. Either that or it’s just funny to think about how dramatically having a Hannibal-Lecter-type pet can influence one’s life.