What I wanted to do more than just about anything was beat my older bird, Augustus, and today I did it! I wanted to beat him bad, yes, real bad, for the years of his disdainful disobedience to me. Today would be the day.
Let me back up a little. I have two parrots, Augustus, a monk parrot, who is an old bird of about 22 – 24 (his life expectancy is about 25) and Mister Squeaky who is about seven or eight.
Mister Squeaky is a dynamo. More interesting is that Squeaky is a sexual maniac. I know I am about to lack decorum right after the word “but” but this parrot tries to screw everything. He screws the inside bars of his cage—top, bottom and four sides. He screws them when he is on the outside of them too, which is just about all day.
When he screws he makes all sorts of sounds. I assume they are pleasure sounds.
He screws the toys in his cage; the soft ones and the hard ones. He screws the handles of his cage which are used to transport him to wherever we need to transport him. Since Squeaky and Augustus’s cages are right next to each other, Squeaky goes into Augustus’s cage and screws everything he can find in there. Then he eats Augustus’s food, the same exact food Squeaky has in his own cage.
Oh, don’t feel sad for Augustus because he goes into Mister Squeaky’s cage and eats Squeaky’s food. Except Augustus doesn’t screw around. If a monk parrot can be a monk then Augustus is a true monk—celibate as a strict churchman.
Squeaky wants to be Augustus, who is the alpha bird in the house.
Mister Squeaky is my bird. He obeys my commands. If I tell him, even from across the room, “Go in your cage,” bingo! Squeaky goes into his cage. At 4 pm every day Augustus squawks that he wants to “go sleep.” That time is his bedtime.
So I call across my office, “Okay, guys, in your cage!” Squeaky zips in but Augustus sits atop his cage with his head tilted and his face telling me, “I don’t have to listen to you, bub.” At this point I bring Mister Squeaky’s cage into the dining room where he will stay the evening until he retires at 8 o’clock to have sex through most of his “sleep” time. Squeaky is with my wife and me as we have our usual evenings—meaning my wife, the Beautiful AP, tells me what I should do and I do it. “Lower the set! Stop watching TV and read a book instead.” That is, of course, marriage. Her demand is my command.
Squeaky does not obey my wife’s commands. He is also strong-willed, unlike Mr. Marshmallow, who is me.
Augustus, on the other hand, is my wife’s bird and he obeys her with true affection. They kiss and snuggle. Disgusting!
When I get back into my office Augustus is still on top of his cage, squawking that he wants to go to sleep. When he was young he could actually say, “Go sleep!” But words are not his thing anymore.
When he sees me, he deliberately moves to the back of the top of his cage where it is hard for me to reach him.
Since Augustus has aged he isn’t as dexterous anymore. He finds it hard to move down the bars of his cage and go inside, so I have to help him.
But every day, every damn day, I have to try to reach him across the top of his cage. He enjoys not making it easy for me to reach him.
“Augustus,” I say each and every damn day. “Don’t you want to go to sleep?”
Then I maneuver myself through the labyrinth of my wife’s desk, her chair, her music stand, and her treadmill to get to the back of the cage and that’s when Augustus scoots over to the front of his cage to force me to make the trip in reverse.
We do this several times every damn day, until Augustus relents and lets me pick him up and put him in his cage for a good night’s sleep. The last I see of him when I cover his cage with blankets is his head tilted and that superior smirk upon his face. Yes, a smirk. Parrot owners will tell you that even though a parrot’s face can’t change, you know exactly what it is thinking.
But today I had had it. I was not going to hustle through the obstacle course to get him. He would either come to me or sit outside his cage all night long.
I stood several feet from his cage and just looked at him, my face smirking as best as I could get it to smirk. “You’ll stay out here all night,” I said. “I am never going to chase around your cage again.”
From the living room I could hear Mister Squeaky screwing something. At least one of us was having fun, I thought. Or maybe two, if you count Augustus reveling in being his usual annoying self.
Augustus looked me. I looked at Augustus. Augustus tilted his head. I tilted my head. He squawked. I made some kind of sound back at him.
We looked at each other and then—yes! yes! yes! —Augustus walked to the side of the cage where I stood. I easily picked him up, placed him inside, and covered him for the night.
I won! I won! Yes, I did it! I beat my bird badly. In doing so, I once again established that man—that I! —was the master of the earth, not some recalcitrant parrot.
Flushed with triumph, I decided my next conquest would be my wife. Such a feat requires both strategic and tactical planning, as it is she who has won every encounter for the last 32 years. A man might be the master of the earth, but his wife, damn it! is the master of the universe.
Book Frank Scoblete to speak for your organization.