Neither did I. Until one flew into our apartment about three days ago and I had to figure out how to tell people about it in French. Blog readers, I'd like you to meet la perruche bleu:
Here's the little parakeet sitting on top of its makeshift perch on our bathroom mirror. We were able to herd him in there (I know it's a "him" because the band above his beak is blue. Girls have pink bands), buy him a few flavored clip-on seed sticks (one egg, one honey, one fruit), and lock the salivating cat out of the bathroom.
The cat immediately ran outside, shot down the balcony, jumped up to the window sill outside the bathroom, and tried to burn a hole through the glass. At one point, when it started to be a bit stinky in there, we opened the bathroom window and taped it in place. Then, a little later, That Guy went in to check on Mister Bird, and Mao had pushed her way through the tape and was sitting on the sink looking up longingly at the bird.
The mess this bird made was...lovely! Just lovely. Poop n' Seed. Yum. I knew we needed to get a cage, but if we could find the owner first, then we wouldn't need to buy anything. I worried about the heartbroken owner, and wanted to see if I could find them.
That Guy made several versions of signs, all in questionable French. "Trouve! Parakeet Blue! Appel 99 88 77 66 55." We told Jean-Marie, the building guardien, and we put a sign in the lobby of our building. Then That Guy taped up some signs on the poles along the street. Last night we went downstairs and had a coffee at the little Arab cafe, and they let us put a sign in the window.
No one has called us yet.
I have to say that I grew up with parakeets. The first time I met one was when I was a very little girl visiting my grandparents in their home in Detroit. My grandmother had birds. Then we got one. I think his name was Dooley. I think he was a dud. When Dooley died, my grandmother Elsie happened to be visiting us, and in the hubbub, she disappeared. I found her hiding behind the door of my brothers' room, sobbing in her 4-leaf-clover dress and toeless, slingback heels. She was embarrassed to be crying. I just loved her all the more.
It was either Elsie, or her mother, my great grandmother whom we called Gwag, who was with my mother one day when they went into the dime store in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, and bought our next bird. This one my mother named Barry, after Barry Goldwater. This must have been around 1964 because that's the year Barry G ran for president and my mother changed her Canadian citizenship in order to work and vote for him.
Barry was quite the character. As all six of us kids solemnly tried to follow our Dad's orders (we called him Pope Dick) and get on our knees in the living room and pray the LONG version of the rosary EVERY evening in May (Mary's month), Barry would fly around and sit on our heads and jabber and peck at our lips and run along the back of the couch bobbing his head up and down. We tried not to laugh. My father, as he mumbled "...Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners...", vowed to kill Barry.
It wasn't the only time Barry was in danger of Death by Dick. (I must say that I may have been in the very same danger on numerous occasions as well, but it had nothing to do with my father, thank the lard.) My father was always the first to awaken in the morning, and on his way from his bedroom into the kitchen, he would stop in the dining room and uncover Barry's cage. One morning, he was so hung over, that he forgot to uncover the cage, and as he stumbled into the kitchen, he heard Barry say distinctly, "Poor baby!"
Boy parakeets can talk, if you're willing to glue your lips to the cage, where they snuggle up closely to listen, as you repeat the same phrase 3,462 times. At some unpredictable moment, the bird will eventually come out with your phrase, in an almost exact copy of your own voice. This is an important thing to remember. Because my brother thought he would be funny and teach him bad words. When the bird repeated them, everyone immediately knew the identity of the culprit. Parakeets also like to mix and match their phrases, which resulted in some interesting combos. For instance, my mother taught Barry to say, "Barry Goldwater!" and my brother taught the bird to say, "Take a powder!" and the bird decided to say, "Barry Gold powder!" He was a Democrat at heart, that bird.
He also didn't like the Pope very much, as he managed to fly by the Pope's picture hanging on the wall, and do an in-flight roll while tossing a nice green and yellow poop directly onto the Pope's nose. My kind of bird.
When I called my mother to tell her about our new bird, and ask her a few questions to make sure I remembered how to take care of the little guy, she said, "Lisa, you were meant to have that bird, you know." I suppose so. But yesterday I started to lapse into despair about our dire financial situation and the idea of another mouth to feed, even though it's the size of, well, a bird beak. But I can't deny that I get pleasure out of his presence.
For two days, That Guy and I looked for a suitable cage that wouldn't cost a fortune. Finally, this morning, That Guy went on a quest and came home with a lovely little cage, a bag of seed, and some very cool cage-bottom sand, scented with anise (licorice), to keep the poop smell at bay. We had some cool little stainless steel espresso cups that we wired onto the cage, and filled with seed and water. We shoved a hanger through the bars for extra perchiness (related to, but not the same as, truthiness), et voila!
Mister Bird (we haven't named him yet), or Bird Meister? is now hanging outside, and the parrot across the street is calling to him, and he is answering right back. That's probably where our bird came from. I stand out on the balcony and wait for the woman to come out to take her bird back inside. Maybe then I can practice my French. "Madame! Excusez-moi. Avez vous une perruche blue qui etait perdu? Parce-que, j'ai trouve une perruche et je voudrais trouve le proprieteur." I just made that up, right now, without going to Babblefish. Only the lard knows how close to Spanish, er, I mean, French, I am.
Birdie is thrilled to be out of the bathroom, in his safe little cage, and outside in the sunshine and light breeze of our balcony. Mao is not so thrilled. Or maybe too thrilled. I've never seen such an intense stare.
I decided to load the rest of the pics into a slide show. Enjoy!