The barking parrot

Some animals seem to have very long memories, while most live excusively in the here and now. Elephants and parrots come to mind, as each has a variant of the impressive qualities of long-term memory.

Elephant matriarchs possess a very long social memory. They recognize the faces of other elephants and determine if its friend or foe approaching the herd and signals her feeling to the parade of elephants in her footsteps. If it is a friend that approaches, she signals that the lot hunker down and graze. If the intruder is either unknown or believed dangerous, the larger elephants circle round and protect their young.

I believe this because my mother never forgets how much trouble I got into as a kid and has a penchant for reminding me of those transgressions, lo these many years. Yet, on the other hand, she can recall a Little League inside-the-park home run that I successfully turned into a sliding double due to "you've got lead in your pants," which she shouted at the top of her lungs as I made my mad dash in slow motion toward and around that distant outpost known by most as first base.

Some time ago I had the honor of babysitting Jake, my mother's double yellow head (Tres Marias Amazon) parrot. He is observant and can suck up a sentence in a blink, releasing it whenever he wishes, which can be mighty inconvenient at times.

It was a sunny day when I let him out of his cage and let him roam about the house, which I later found out was not the wisest thing to do. On the positive side he learned to bark like my dog Spooky, which meant the mailman got a multiple greeting when approaching the mailbox. I really did not think much of it, as I was elsewhere in the house and thought that the two were merely up to a little mutual support, as guarding the house can be a big job for one dog alone.

I spent the afternoon typing merrily away while wearing a headset attached to my mp3 player. I do this so as not to be distracted by the outside world, for my mind already runs riot with thoughts both deep and shallow, amusing and disturbing, political, religious, but, thanks to great resolve and years of training, no Fox News.

I kept hearing some noise coming from outside my headset, but in my usual writer's trance I paid it no heed and just kept pumping out the paragraphs, which I later learned was a mistake of considerable proportions.

After a couple hours at the keyboard I shut down the music and took a breather, as I had been running the old beanie at warp speed. Maybe it was the pounding at the door that prompted my decision to stretch and sit on the porch to reflect.

No sooner than I had opened the door I came face-to-face with a FedEx employee, someone with a petition, two neighbors and a utility worker. The common denominator was all were livid and wanted to strangle me. After some awkward moments I managed to seat all of them so I could hear what had set them off.

I had forgotten my behavior decades ago when I taught Jake to swear, thinking it was cute. It seems that between Spooky's barking Jake would vocalize insult after insult through the door in a voice that sounded remarkably like my own. With his seemingly endless memory he berated these innocent people to the point that blood pressures were skyrocketing. All the while I had been listening to Pachelbel's Canon in D major.

I extended my most sincere apologies and the group got up and headed for the gate muttering amongst themselves. I then put Jake back into his cage, all the while thankful that Spooky could not speak. was last seen dressed like a pirate with Jake on his shoulder. Send Spooky a forgiving -email, for he had no part in the unsavory behavior.

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