4 Mar 2005
With Special Apologies to Oscar
By Madeleine Franco
I read once that birds change your life perhaps more than any other pet. I used to be a clotheshorse, but that was approximately 30 years and 30 pounds ago and about ¼ of a continent away. Now my passion is birds. As a result, my interest and ability with regard to fashion statements has been somewhat curtailed. Given the choice, I’d much rather buy a 40 lb. bag of deluxe bird seed mix than a pair of designer jeans. The cost is about the same, if you’re lucky enough to catch the jeans on sale.
This relatively new attitude of mine has necessitated some accommodation. Oh, I’m used to it all right, but it does present a bit of a dilemma to anyone who has the unfortunate experience of shopping for a gift for me. They ask me what I want, I tell them a half dozen bird crocks. They look incredulous; I get a bottle of perfume instead. Luckily, the perfume is in a pretty bottle, which has some decorative value, because I rarely wear perfume anymore either. I’m afraid perfume will bother the birds.
I’m not the only one with this problem. A “bird friend” of mine recently lamented that she received a gift certificate to Victoria’s Secret, which posed a genuine concern. She also spends a lot of time in her bird room, and she didn’t know whether it was fashionably correct to wear a negligee over or under her holey tee shirt.
Notwithstanding, people adjust. Several years ago, my two boys, who were on a limited budget, asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I had just purchased about a dozen travel cages for my birds, and their timing was perfect. I asked them to go to The Home Depot and buy some dowels, cut them into perches, and attach them, with fender washers and screws, to the travel cages I had purchased. They heeded my advice. The project kept them busy for several evenings, and the finished products were perfect! They didn’t spend much. But, the travel cages are still in frequent use, and my sons’ collaborative efforts were one of the nicest and most memorable gifts I’ve ever received.
Since that time, others have acquiesced to my avian orientation, and one Christmas recently I received from a friend of mine who lives in Manhattan, the book entitled Red-Tails in Love: A Wildlife Drama in Central Park. Well, now, even she has caught on to the new scheme of things!
That having been observed, there’s been a bit of a slide back into more traditional gift-giving patterns by others. You see, I also received a Ralph Lauren turtleneck, hunter green, rather lovely, I must admit, said to bring out the green in my eyes. Or, was it the green in my birds? Oh, I forget! Well, anyway, I donned my new sweater the day after Christmas, and for a bright and shining moment, I was proud that I finally had something “good” to wear.
Alas, my glory was to be short-lived. Forgetting what I was wearing, I went into the bird room to tidy things up, and as I normally do, I let the birds out to cage hop. Suddenly, but as might have been expected, Jazz, my blue-throated macaw, hopped onto my shoulder and approximately 30 seconds later took just the tiniest nip out of my brand-new Ralph Lauren. Now, I know that many of us have what we call “bird clothes,” but that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you make designer bird clothes.
So, now I think I’ll stick to what has been my fashion strategy for upwards of ten years. When next I buy designer clothes, I’m afraid it will be at the thrift store, where often I may be found prowling for bird toys.
Please tell Ralph, Donna, Diane, and especially Oscar, that I’m so sorry (you were my favorites), but Jazz thinks I look better with her on my back. I tend to agree.
Copyright © 2005 Madeleine Franco, all rights reserved. Madeleine Franco is an award-winning business writer/presenter and founding president of the Southern Nevada Parrot Education, Rescue & Rehoming Society (SNPERRS). She is an avicultural hobbyist who tends a flock of approximately 30 non-breeding, highly platonic and interactive pet parrots. Madeleine is the owner/operator of Premium Pine Cones, LLC (www.premiumpinecones.net), specializing in remedies, toys and diversions for parrots that pluck their feathers but would like to kick the habit.