"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Times They are a-Changing…

I’m telling you, there are going to be some changes around here, or else. Much like our forefathers sent a message to King George in England about his onerous taxation policies in the New World and had their own version of afternoon tea, I’m about to challenge the authority and confront some vexing policies in this dictatorship.

Don’t agree that this is a dictatorship? You think that no person is legally subservient to another? I beg to differ. The restrictions under which I live are far more inflexible than the constraints of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Let’s take the first two amendments to the Bill of Rights:

“Congress shall make no law….abridging the freedom of speech….or the right of the people peaceably to assemble…” Yeah, right. Oh, I can say anything at any time I want, except when I'm talking on the telephone or when there are friends visiting. Then I can guarantee there is no speaking without abridgement, or assembling with any scintilla of peace.

And the second amendment:

“…the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Oh, you bet. If you want to keep your arms around this place, you better not bare them! Shouldn’t that be “bear,” you ask? No, I used the correct homophone. Let me elaborate: under certain circumstances, walking around my house with bare arms will result in severe bodily harm.

And those circumstances? Unrelenting enforcement of the dress code in this house, a code that has become alarmingly narrow and limiting. As far as I’m concerned, it’s time to throw off the mantle of oppression and strike a blow for freedom. Pablo the Parrot is going to have to learn who the boss is in this household!

I recall twenty years ago when the dress code established by Pablo was restricted to Carhart clothing and ball caps. My husband used to wear ball caps all the time, and if Pablo saw him so attired, the parrot’s anger would last for days. Of course, Pablo hated my husband back then so it was hard to tell if Pablo’s screaming was directed at the man or the cap. After Pablo suddenly decided he liked my husband and not me, we knew for sure that the screaming had to do with the cap.

“He doesn’t want anyone having a bigger beak than his,” said my husband in what I considered–but never voiced–a typical male deduction regarding size. I thought the parrot probably had been teased by someone wearing a cap, taking the typical female path of attributing bad behavior to emotional trauma. We’ll never know for sure because Pablo doesn’t deign to discuss it. He just screams.

As for Carhart clothing, those tough, insulated, rip-resistant brown jackets, bibs, and coveralls, I know exactly why Pablo hates them. When Pablo is throwing a tantrum about not getting his way, I don my Carhart jacket, along with a pair of leather welder’s gloves, and I am protected from that perilous beak of his.

As the years passed, the dress code became more restrictive and came to include any piece of clothing that hinted we were not staying home that day. As long as I was dressed in jeans and tee shirts, a truce reigned in the house. As long as my husband took off the ball cap out of sight downstairs, that tenuous peace endured. Occasionally the bird would see him out in the yard and wearing a ball cap, and punishment would be exacted. After my husband died, Pablo became even more narrow in how he interpreted the dress code.

Here is the repressive dress code under which I labor today:

1) I am allowed to wear only one pair of jeans—the baggy ones with the tear in the left knee, a result of close encounters of the chain saw type. These are my work jeans and they generally mean I’m staying home. Shorts are allowed, subdued colors only.

2) All bright colors are verboten. I am allowed only tee shirts in drab and muted shades of green, brown, blue, and gray. Gray is the optimum color. Black is not allowed. Red is akin to wearing Carharts AND a ball cap. Absolutely nothing dressy is tolerated. Have I made clothing purchase decisions based on this narrow interpretation? Yes. Many.

3) Jackets and sweatshirts are not permitted. No long-sleeved shirts are allowed. I found this out recently when I donned a long-sleeved gray thermal shirt because the temperature in my house was sixty-two degrees and the wood stove was struggling to warm even itself.

Enough! I’ve had it! It’s time to negate tyranny. I’m weary of living with the constant threat of attack. I’d toss all his sunflower seeds in the pond out back, but it’s frozen solid and the effect would be impotent.

As I sit writing this, wearing the baggy jeans with the rip in the left knee and the gray tee shirt with its miniscule design in brown, I have devised a shrewd and subversive plan: I’m putting the long-sleeved thermal shirt back in the closet.


And just what do you think you're wearing? Long sleeves are not permitted. You know that. (note how he has crouched, ready to spring)

I can't believe you're actually daring to wear that! I've told you before! (his body language and raised feathers show ire, and he is complaining vocally

You make me so mad, I could scream!!! (and so he does. Loudly! Constantly! Note the blazing orange eyes with the pupils constricted to a pinpoint.))

I want to bite something!!! (he is shreading the towel wrapped around his perch. I liken this to sharpening his sword. )
And don't try sneaking up behind me either! (Interesting photo. He almost appears to be a hologram.)

In that last picture, you can see why I tolerate this little dictator. He is thirty-six years old and finds it difficult to stay top-side on his perch. He falls frequently, battering his beautiful feathers against the bars of his cage. I wrapped a towel around the round perch of his stand where he sits and keeps me company in my loft. It is soft under his feet, and allows more surface for his balance.

Oddly, when I placed a piece of towel on the perch in his cage, he refused to have anything to do with it, and would not go near it. Go figure.

I apologize for the lack of quality in these photos. My good camera is in the hospital and I didn't know there was a "fluorescent lighting" mode on the camera I'm using. My loft is NOT bright yellow. I blame that on the compact fluorescent blubs I recently installed. I also decided to spare myself the danger of donning the offending garment and re-taking the pictures.


  1. A wonderful companion! It's great that he doesn't just sit there - he has quite a lot of personality and "attitude". Question: I don't want to appear insensitive (ahem), but just what is the life expectancy of a parrot?
    kath at prplhrts1@webtv.net

  2. Need I remind you of that day soooo long ago, when we first deciphered his then only word--"LOOK OUT!", as he malvolently stalked across the floor?

    I see nuthin has changed..

  3. I don't have a fashionista parrot. . guess I'll have to think up some other reason for wearing this ratty old tshirt and baggy gym shorts all day and all night! Even in the yellow glow, I loved those pictures, especially the tender last one. I didn't know parrots were so long-lived. Wish my Maggie (choc.lab) had some parrot genes.