Bubba, The Self-Gratifying Parrot

We’re looking forward to the arrival of my two beloved nieces, Ysa and Mary Helen from L.A. this weekend…they come for the summer every year, accompanied by their exhausted attorney father David, and my sister Tamara. Tamara is followed everywhere by a thundering herd of special-needs dachshunds. She’s big on the animal-rescue thing, and every one of them is cursed with some affliction or another. But they always fill me with the desire to get a pet of our own.
“Please?” I whine to The Todd, “please? Think how good it would be for Zach and MacLean to love an animal!” The Todd ignores me as long as he is able, then delivers the Killing Blow.
“Really? You’re really ready for another pet after Bubba?” The conversation is finished for another summer.
Bubba is a lovely yellow-naped Amazon parrot who came to me as The Todd’s dowry. I adored him–with his tidy vest of green feathers, how his yellow eyes would do that crazy dialation thing when he saw me. “Hiii!” he would fawn in a sickeningly sweet tone, “Hiii!” It took me a couple of weeks to realize this was a perfect imitation of my baby talk. In no time at all, Bubba and I were best friends.
The important thing to know about parrots is that they have an EXTREMELY long lifespan–up to 70 years or so. And they progress through life much like we do. Which means, when I met Bubba at the age of 13, he was entering adolesence. Like all adolescents, Bubba was discovering the benefits of…ah…self-exploration. We were reading the paper one night in the living room when I heard it. “Neyt, neyt, neyt, neeeyt…”
“What’s that?” I cocked my head, trying to figure out this new noise. The Todd shook his head. I walked in the kitchen to find Bubba doing a frantic little dance on his perch, still chanting “neyt, neyt, neyt…” The Todd followed me in and burst out laughing. “Honey,” he gasped, “our little boy is growing up!” “Oh? Oh! Ah!” I shrieked, covering my eyes, “make him stop!” My heartless spouse walked out of the room, still laughing.
You know, I really could have endured almost anything but the vocalizations. Bubba’s “personal moments” grew more and more frequent until I dreaded inviting anyone home. One Sunday night the Bishop in our area stopped by to say hello. The Todd and I are not part of his congregation, but we are longtime friends and neighbors, and he was the man who married us. “Come in, Bishop!” I said, “The Todd’s made dinner, have some.” We were halfway through the fish dish when it began. “Neyt, neyt, neyt…”
“Who wants dessert!” I shrieked, trying to drown out our overzealous pet. Our friend jumped a little and spilled his water glass. “Uh, sure.” he said, mopping the ice cubes off his suit. I stalked into the kitchen and hissed, “Bubba, for the love of all that is good, stop this now and I swear I will shell every one of your sunflower seeds by hand! Please!”
As we started on the pie, my mother and her elderly neighbor dropped by. We were all chatting about something benign–gardening, I think–when Bubba set off again. “Nyet, nyet, nyetneytneytneytNEYT NEYT! NEYT!” My husband’s face was purple, his shoulders shaking with the effort of not breaking down and howling with laughter.
“What’s that?” asked Miss Delores, my mother’s 87-year old neighbor. I bit the inside of my cheek so hard that a little blood pooled in the corner of my mouth.
It was too much. The Todd and I broke down in hysterics while the table full of parents, clergy and the elderly stared at us.
Bubba’s ending is a happy one. Despite that The Todd had lovingly hand-raised him from, like, an egg, Bubba could not accept that I was not HIS mate, but The Todd’s. After a particularly savage bite to my spouse’s ear, Bubba was introduced to a sultry older woman–a 26 year old yellow-nape named Annabelle. They are very happy. And from what I understand from Bubba’s new owner, very, very loud
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One response to “Bubba, The Self-Gratifying Parrot”

  1. Anonymous says:

    My little Daucshund has a little stuffed animal we call the "Love Moose," for obvious reasons. I just wish I could convince him to not "love" his moose in public.

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