At What Price,The Bird?

My wife told me about a bird she had early in her first marriage or while dating her first husband. It was a Cockatiel she received as a gift from someone who could not keep a bird or something like that. I love my wife and find her attachment to animals pretty cool since my ex-wife used to kick my dog when she was mad at me. Also, I grew up in a pet friendly house and when my mom wasn’t gone, you could usually find her lounging around with one of our many cats. At my house, we had a revolving door for every stray animal in the neighborhood. People would find one and drop it off at our house or they would tell my mom of seeing a stray and she wanted to know where, so I could hit the streets and alleys searching for them.

Back to the bird though. My wife and her “baby’s daddy” were out camping in Michigan and my wife had her bird sitting on her shoulder like a pirate babe. There was much alcohol involved while sitting around a bonfire as there always is when carefree, young and camping. Then, somehow, and I cannot remember the particulars, but somehow, the bird got spooked and took flight. Having had his only Egress system clipped and trimmed for walking and not flying, the bird managed about as much flight as a 20 pound turkey and that’s about five feet. Five feet from my wifes shoulder happened to be the bonfire. Can you guess what happened next? Well, almost but the bird did not become the worlds smallest BBQ, the bird lived albeit, no worse for the flight. It had burned off most of its feathers, a few of its toes and got a bit of a beakroast. Immediately, my baby screamed and her husband, in a chivalrous moment, jumped into action, feet first into the fire. Just like Kurt Russell did in that movie with the dopey looking Baldwin brother and, with the bird flapping around and biting at anything, he managed to rodeo that bastard and saved it from a fate which would never be forgotten. That had to be the night my stepdaughter was conceived. Well, my wifes maternal instincts went into overdrive and she put the skunkeye on the bonfire and they were heading home and my wife kept screaming to find a vet, find a vet. And they did. At midnight or so they showed up at the door of a vets office she spotted on a frontage road off the expressway. On the door is a sign that says, “In case of emergency call-1-800- heal my sick pet” or something like that. After an hour, a vet shows up, puts some ointments and unguents on the bird, all the while giving it birdy oxygen and gives my wife some of the burn goo and a bill for…. Drum roll please…….$1800.00 and some change give or take a hundred. Now I love animals. Cats are super cool and independent. They show you love on their own terms and that’s cool. I love cats. Dogs are super cool. They listen to you if you take the time to work with them, and no matter what, a dog will love you and defend you to the death, most of them. I have a dog named Frankie Knuckles whom I believe, would leave me faster that my x wife did if I hold one meal back from his fat ass. I love dogs too. Birds on the other hand are, well……different. They will entertain you but I get the feeling that they know we are holding them captive and will flee first chance they get no matter how good they have it. This I know because I had two birds in my life and both flew the coop so to speak first chance they had a clear sight line to a tree.

Well, she chiseled and chipped away until that bill was paid and after she was divorced, she gave the bird away. I was kinda glad but a bit confused. Yo paid nothing for a $25 bird, that does nothing but keep you awake. You spent a ton of money on it and you gave it away? I don’t understand women. They probably do not understand me either.

Her Dad had a cockatiel too. His name was Schlitz, like the malt liquor. Her dad had a series of pets all named after liquor. A dog named Scotch and another named J&B. Are you seeing a pattern here? He was a tavern owner for 35 years so liquor was in his blood. Apparently it was in the pets blood too. Well, my father in law passed away at 75 years old just two years ago and my mother in law has been minding Schlitz since. Today Schlitz died.

My mother in law called my wife to come and look at the bird because he wasn’t squawking and whistling and making so much of the racket that I have finally gotten used to. She went upstairs and came down frantic, holding Schlitz in her hand. That was unheard of. The only one who could touch that bird was my father in law. “Get on the internet and find me a bird doctor, NOW” ! I was not moving fast enough for her so she gave Becca, my stepdaughter the bird and she jumped on the internet. I saw something in her eyes I had never seen before. Maybe her x-husband saw it the night the bird got spooked and flew into the fire and that’s why he jumped in without giving it any thought. What I saw in Springs eyes this afternoon was a selfless love for one of gods creatures. She did not care about anything else at that moment. She just wanted to save a stupid, noisy $25 bird and she was going to do it no matter what I or anyone else did. Before I knew it she was gently putting the bird in a box and heading out to our Jeep Wrangler with Becca. She hollered over her shoulder, “I’ll call you later”. About an hour after she left, she returned home and said she left the bird in the vets hands till tomorrow. As she was heading upstairs to tell her mother, the phone rang. I answered and it was the vet asking to speak to Spring. I called for her, she took the phone and started walking and talking. I followed her and as she looked at me and I knew, Schlitz had died.

I could sense such a deep sadness in her yet she remained poised as she told me she needed to go get the bird. She said she was going to take her mom and daughter and bury that noisy bastard right next to her father. As she left to go and get the bird, I realized that if I had to, if I could, I would have spent $10,000 at that moment to save that bird. A noisy, pain in the ass creature of god. For my wife, for Becca, for my mother in law and for god, because aint he busy enough right now, without having to deal with that noisy ass bird………..


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