Captain’s Log, Day 8 -- After seven days of unsuccessful attempts to extinguish this avian invader’s incessant cries, I did the unconscionable: I replaced the water in his bowl with a Coors Light. Unfortunately, I soon discovered this did not silence him, but rather just changed the sounds he was uttering into different pitches and decibels than before. I can’t really say this was any kind of improvement. Plus, now I felt guilty for trying to intoxicate a seemingly innocent bird. But that’s just it. This winged thing is far from innocent. He’s been tormenting me nonstop for 7 days now. Has it only been a week? It feels like a decade of my life has been spent trying to find an offering that will appease this vengeful squawking god.
Before you judge me as a horrible person for getting a pet parrot wasted, please hear my side of the story. As they say, “Walk a mile in my shoes first…”
It started out nice enough. My cousin Sam was taking a cruise to Alaska with his new wife Alisha, and he asked what he thought was a simple favor: “Can you look after my parrot for two weeks while I’m gone?” Me, being very naïve, happily said “Yes, that will be no problem at all.” I figured it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. I had taken care of cats and dogs and fish in the past. Surely this wouldn’t be that much different. Besides, I’ve got two weeks off from my job around the holidays, so I’ve got nothing else happening. That was before I knew parrots were the inspiration behind the old-time myths of the wailing of the sirens.
I’ve never been a conspiracy theorist, but I swear the emerald-colored son of a bitch is plotting against me. No one would believe me, but he waited until he heard my cousin’s truck pull out of my driveway and turn the corner at the stop sign to make his first peep. Until then, absolute radio silence, like being in the peaceful soundlessness of space. Then came what I call the opening of the first seal of the Apocalypse. My words cannot accurately convey the sound that permanently scarred my eardrums on that fateful day, December 17th, 2020. The best way I’ve figured out how to express it is by saying you should close your eyes and imagine walking by a crowded street with a construction worker using a jackhammer on hard cement, surrounded by a thousand teachers running their fingernails along a chalkboard, underneath an emergency tornado siren blaring at full strength. Then multiply that by ten.
The interesting thing was, after that initial Squawkageddon, he went silent again for the next eight hours, just long enough for me to have an “Avengers” movie marathon with a couple of my friends, and have some fun arguing and discussing each character and battle scene. Then the horrific sounds started once more, scaring my friends away and giving me an intense migraine.
Now that I think about it more, maybe it was my cousin Sam who is conspiring against me? Did I do something to upset him or his new bride at their wedding. I don’t remember doing anything stupid. Hmmm… Now I’m just being paranoid. Sam wouldn’t do anything like this. We’ve been buddies for 30 years. It must just be this little psychotic asshole he’s been hanging out with. Why would anyone find pleasure in owning one of these banshees?
I tried to be peaceful. No, you don’t understand. I exhausted all my options before going nuclear and dropping the beer bomb on him. My first course of action, of course, was to do a search on YouTube. I ended up watching a video entitled “How to nail a bird.” I got some fantastic rotisserie chicken recipes, but no help on ending my agony this fiendish fowl is causing.
On day number two I went to the drug store and wasted $12.99 of my hard-earned money on a pair of earplugs that weren’t worth the polyurethane they were made from. They made my ears itch and still didn’t block out the nightmare shrieking that sounded like someone tormenting a cat.
Also, when I returned home from my twenty-minute trip to the corner Rx store, I learned that parrots (or at least this particular bird) gets incredibly lonely and bored when he has no one’s ears to tickle with his lovely songs, so he had apparently thrown a fit and knocked over his cage. At first I was way too happy because he wasn’t making any noise. Then I noticed he wasn’t moving at all. I should have just let the little jerk die right then and there, but then I thought, “Oh my God, what kind of person am I? I can’t even bird-sit for my cousin for two days while he’s on vacation without killing his favorite thing in the world?”
I panicked, like big time. I called 9-1-1 and the operator laughed first, then got angry at me wasting her time, then told me about the seriousness of making prank calls to 9-1-1. So I did what any normal person would do – I googled “CPR for parrots,” and started carefully watching another video on YouTube. I began feverishly checking for a pulse, then checked something off my bucket-list that I never expected to put there: I desperately gave mouth-to-beak to the punk. I saved his life and how does he repay me? By squawking louder and more earsplitting than ever before. With no gaps now. Before at least there were a couple minutes between his screeches when he would take a little break. Not anymore.
On the third day I decided I had to make another little shopping trip, this time to a local Petsmart store, to find an actual book on parrot care. YouTube was going to be the death of me (or the bird). But I knew better than to leave Jimmy home alone this time (yes his name is Jimmy. Until now I had refused to acknowledge it because I had too many other cute pet names I would fondly use when addressing the green monster).
I covered my ears with some heavy earmuffs and loaded his cage into the backseat of my Prius. A couple of neighbor kids I think made me what they call “YouTube-famous” when they used their iPhones to record video of me making my valiant yet futile attempt to fasten the seatbelt around the birdcage, while giving a demonstration of the proper way to say every single curse word in the history of the English language. Certainly I educated these neighbor kids on a few words they had never heard before. I could tell because their jaws had fallen to the pavement of the driveway. “Oh great, now I’m going to get an earful from these kids’ parents later.” I brushed that thought off and scurried into the front seat and started the ignition of my Prius.
In a series of divine interventions on the road during my 15-minute drive to the pet store, my faith in a Higher Power was restored. I had so many close calls with other vehicles due to the trauma from the unceasing shockwaves of squawking and chirping, I don’t know how I am still alive. When I parked the car, the first thing I did was lift up my earmuffs and use my fingers to make sure my ears were not bleeding. I know I sound like I’m exaggerating, but don’t judge another person until you’ve lived through their pain.
I shut my car door and start to make my way to the entrance of Petsmart, when it dawns on me, that twerp might find a way to destroy my beautiful teal Prius, Sandy, if I leave him alone in the backseat. I make a quick U-turn and return to my vehicle to retrieve Jimmy. What is the proper bird etiquette here? Do I just carry the cage inside by hand, or should I set it down in a shopping basket? Finally, I just decide to have him hitch a ride on my left shoulder. I didn’t want another “YouTube-famous” moment of me trying to fasten the shopping basket seatbelt around the cage, and the damn thing was too heavy for me to hold the whole time I was shopping. I saunter my way to the front desk marked “Customer Service,” so I can ask the clerk the quickest way over to the book department.
I got the distinct feeling the other shoppers here were snickering at me. I couldn’t really blame them. Hell, all I needed was an eye patch, a wooden leg, and a do-rag, and I could’ve been the best darned Captain Jack Sparrow this town has ever seen. One little brat even stopped staring at the guinea pig case and ran over to yell “Rrrrrrr, matey” at me and “Where’s your hat, Hook?” I felt like lecturing the boy on respecting his elders and asking where his parents were, but then I stopped myself because I do not want to be “THAT guy.” I simply turned the other direction and hurried on to the small book section they had. I had no idea which book would be best, so I grabbed the ones that had never failed me before on other topics of interest, “Parrots For Dummies,” in its familiar bright yellow and black cover.
Long story short, I immediately brought that book home and began devouring it from chapter one, trying to jot down notes every time I saw anything related to getting the birds to shut the hell up. The usually reliable “Dummies” books had failed me this time. Nothing was working. I felt like God was real, but He was now punishing me for something I had done, or not done.
By the middle of day four, I had read through the book cover-to-cover twice and couldn’t get Jimmy to be quiet for more than two minutes. I started channel-surfing on my big-screen TV and cranked the volume up to max to see if I could either drown him out or scare him into silence. I passed by the Animal Planet station and quickly flipped back to it because I wanted to try something. As luck would have it, they just so happened to have a bird on TV, and me, being the inexperienced bird handler I was, and feeling the increased desperation to get some peace and quiet, I removed Jimmy from his cage and let him perch on my right hand. I began to lift him closer to the TV screen to see if, by a miracle, maybe he would stop squawking if he saw and heard a bigger parrot on the fifty-two-inch screen.
Fast-forward two hours later and I’m lying in an emergency room bed, being administered amoxicillin and doxycycline to counteract the threats of psittacosis, pasteurellosis, and nontuberculous mycobacteriosis after the asshole chomped down on my hand and got his nasty spit in the newly-created wounds. Now the hand I write with is bandaged up like a mummy, and of course, I had forgotten to tell the E.R. doctors I am allergic to amoxicillin, so when I got home and looked in the bathroom mirror, I scared myself and jumped back because I thought Freddy Kreuger was breaking through from the nightmare realm.
That’s when the laughing began. I swear Jimmy was laughing at me. I know people will think I’m insane and that I must have misheard and the parrot was just doing his natural squawks and chirps and screeches. No! I tell you, the evil maniac was laughing at me with a diabolical super-villain’s laugh, even more so now that I looked like Deadpool shaved himself with a weed eater.
This was the first time I went to the fridge for my 24-pack that week. It would not be my last. I drank myself to sleep that night, slowly losing my willpower to remain sober.
On day six, I got the ludicrous notion to watch some old Looney Tunes cartoons and see how Bugs Bunny would have handled this. I actually felt a little commiseration watching Wile E. Coyote repeatedly get his butt kicked yet persistently had a new plan to take down the Roadrunner each morning. I ended up rejecting most of Wile E.’s ideas because I was fond of my house and didn’t want to blow it up with dynamite. Not to mention, ordering dynamite online is expensive (not that I googled that or anything). Then an old Tom & Jerry episode came on and I started jotting down notes like I was taking advice from a college professor. It was at that moment I realized just how crazy my thoughts were getting.
There was a knock at my door. I had assumed the worst and figured it would be the neighbor kids’ parents chewing me out for teaching them a wide variety of new four-letter words from around the globe. To my pleasant surprise it was an Amazon package I forgot I ordered a couple days ago (that Prime membership saves the day again). It is my last-ditch hope – the $34.99 organic chamomile flowers which promise to “relieve your parrot’s stress and anxiety levels.” What the hell does a parrot have to be stressed out about, anyway? I don’t understand. It’s not like they have a 9-to-5 they go punch-in at every morning. It was late in the day and I was tired, so I decided to wait until the next day to try to get Jimmy to eat his new special flowers.
Day 7. Genius that I am, I couldn’t get the little guy to eat the leaves, and the empty beer cans had already been piling up in my trash can, so I wasn’t experiencing the clearest thoughts (again, don’t judge – walk a mile in my shoes, whatever!) so I go to my fridge and grab out a JELL-O chocolate pudding cup and dip the organic flowers in it, hoping Jimmy has a sweet tooth for chocolate just like I do. Boy was I wrong. I mean, it did get him to shut up. At long last. Just not in the way I had hoped. A frantic dash to the pet hospital and $1,500 later, and the rotten flying menace was good as new, back home in his cage in my living room, wailing away, making me contemplate all my life choices.
Now we’ve come full-circle back to the eighth day, upon which, when my alarm clock went off in the morning, I vowed to myself that if I could not get the bird to be quiet today, he wins. He can have the house and I’ll move to a hotel. Now, hopefully you can understand why I was pouring a cold one for Jimmy. He seemed to enjoy the beer but it didn’t stop the noise pollution, so I’ve packed my suitcase and am on the way to the Holiday Inn down the street. Merry Christmas, Jimmy, you win.
Don’t look at me like that. I’m not that cruel. I made arrangements to pay one of my friends to come over and ensure the little prick is fed and watered daily while I get some rest and relaxation in comfort at the hotel. And I had to pay a lot because my friend had already been traumatized by the great squawking on the first day during the “Avengers” marathon, and he was very reluctant to deal with that again.
Wouldn’t you know it, on the way out my front door, I was confronted by Susie, the mother of one of those neighbor boys who had their eyes opened by foreign words the other day. I was in absolutely no mood for this and so I made the poor decision of saying “Fuck you- er, Merry Christmas!”
When I arrived at my room in the Holiday Inn, I had the thought, if only I could understand what that parrot is thinking and why he won’t stop squawking. Then I misjudged my location when I fell back onto the bed and slammed my head against the hard wood headrest, knocking myself unconscious.
Day 7 of my Kidnapping – Now look, what is this nincompoop doing now? Oh my feathers, after his failed attempt to murder me yesterday with chocolate-poisoning, now today he is contaminating my water dish with alcohol. Why does he hate me? What did I ever do to him?
Maybe one of my relatives pooped on his Prius and he’s vowed revenge on all feathered kind? Perhaps that would explain why he tortures me by forcing me to visit a strange bird prison where all kinds of my fellows are locked up in cages and then he flashed giant images of other tortured parrots in front of my eyes trying to terrorize me.
All I’ve done the whole time I’ve been in captivity here is be the politest bird I can be. I kept quiet and still and didn’t even complain about anything, not even when he kept me in the dark, lonely kitchen. That is, until him and his co-conspirators started yelling and screaming, repeatedly arguing about something, something “Avengers” and yadda, yadda “Thor.” They did this for eight hours in a row. I’m convinced it was some kind of enhanced interrogation technique designed to wear me down so they could extract information from me. Finally, I cracked. I could no longer keep my cool. Watching pointless battle scene after pointless battle scene, and just when I thought one Avengers film had ended, it still had another good hour left to it, not counting the end credits scenes.
So that was the breaking point – the moment I decided I would not go quietly into the night, but instead I would fight back against my captor and his malevolent plans. Thus began “Operation: Squawk.”