Bird balm

My good friend Tiva just bought her young daughter a pet parakeet. It’s blue-green with a sloped yellow head and small enough to perch on the girl’s slight shoulder. Tiva texted a photo:

“You see a cute birdie,” I texted back. “I see dinner.”

This sentiment is more pressing when she tells me the tweetie thingy’s name: Pickles Billabong. (Pickles Billabong!) Naturally, I demanded to know who cursed the poor creature with this name, which is straight out of Dickens or Dr. Seuss at their most baroque, or most high. Her daughter, of course, is the culprit. 

“She came up with the name by looking at a list of bodies of water (river, brook, etc.) because the bird is a kind of aquamarine color and a billabong is a pond that is created when a river changes course. Pickles is because the bird is shaped like a pickle,” Tiva explains. I am impressed. 

“The bird is her best friend,” she adds, and I don’t know if I should smile or sob. 

She goes on to say that the daughter and her twin sister are having a turbulent time during Covid — they’re not sick, just bored and longing — and so Pickles serves as a kind of therapy animal. It’s the Prozac parakeet. 

Birds. Indeed. They’re the one pet, besides a rhino and a manatee, I never had growing up. I stuck to dogs, rats and cats, with the occasional fish, salamander and turtle thrown into the mix. 

No birds, and I can only guess we skipped them because our friends had parakeets and they were awful. They didn’t really do anything that’s anthropomorphically charming, like dogs, which are half-human anyway. There was no fetch or leg humping. I mean, really.

The birds seemed stuck in a poo-encrusted cage, bopping around, whistling occasionally, cocking their robotic heads. When they got out they flew all over the house, perching high up on the curtains to avoid human clutches, and were generally an avian pain in the ass. I desperately wanted to open a window and watch them flap away.

Not so now. I hope Pickles Billabong thrives as a bright, animated companion, although, according to experts, parakeets can live 10 to 20 years. On that note, I immediately start thinking about the best sauce for a tiny, braised bird. And what are the best sides — carrots, potatoes, pet rabbit? 

But this is somewhat serious. The girls are in a needy space. Covid has cut a hole in so many lives, and kids especially are confused and adrift. They wanted a friend, exotic, potentially chatty, therapeutic — some thera-keet. The bird then is a balm, sweet, attentive, pretty, and other things I’m sure. They do have a dog, but it’s more Tiva’s baby than the children’s. We’ll see how this whole thing flies.

Meanwhile, I wonder: Does the dog look up at old Pickles and go, “Yum, yum”? Good dog. 

4 thoughts on “Bird balm

  1. Love the humour in this! Serious issue indeed, not just children, people are generally at the end of their wits coming up with new ideas to keep themselves occupied other than with work. Boredom can be exhausting! 😥💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You said it. Boredom is not only aggravating and depressing, it’s a health issue unto its own. I hate the stuff. It’s why so many people are getting pets during the pandemic. Like parakeets. Thanks for dropping by, Shrubaboti!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Parakeets as a therapy/comfort bird is interesting. My mum had one as a kid, actually her younger brother did and it was very tame and he taught it to talk and sit on his shoulder. I’m not sure why we got a parakeet, our first Sydney was bright yellow/green tinge–he was sort of a Houdini and always finding new ways to escape we’d come home and find him hanging out…he loved the chains for some of the old hanging lamps my dad had. He loved to fly around the kitchen during cleaning. He loved his little mirror twirling it and bobbing and dancing to music on the radio. He was named Sydney b/c I loved and still love Australia. He got sick and drank medicine off a spoon and sat in his seed cup before he passed. Symon followed bright blue and pretty. Was not an escape artist, thought the reflection in the mirror was another bird, always banging into it, and when he tried to fly often collided with doors and walls so we could not let him roam the kitchen. Symon had brush with death when a stray/street kitten followed my godmother’s younger daughter home…it was a sub zero night and we brought her into our cellar basement with blankets and food b/c we are allergic. Got her a good home–colleague of my mom’s came the next day to officially take possession and adopt her–so she briefly roamed while they had tea–she leaped up and her adopted mom pulled her off before any damage/entry to Symon’s domicile but he was shaking like a leaf for a bit. Cat was named Tuffy–we got holiday cards and postcards and duly kept them away from Symon while he was still with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is touching and very funny, Dena! Thank you as always for sharing such wonderful stories. I’m sure my readers will enjoy this too.


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