Thursday, February 15, 2007

It was a dark and stormy night...
or, "the great escape at the PARAKEET RANCH"...

Bonnie the parakeet couldn't take it anymore. She had been imprisoned with her cellmate, Clyde, for so long, that her memories of fleeting freedom were fast disappearing from the confines of her 2 or 3 active parakeet brain cells. But Bonnie had always been a renegade; a trait that manifested itself one day not long ago when her caretaker, Dave, knowing the 'keets liked to gnaw on stale bread, put a piece in-between the cage bars so they could nibble. Seeing this, Bonnie pathologically pounced upon the stale bread like a bird possessed, and proceeded to gnarl and chew the bread to bits until it fell mercilessly to the floor. The floor of caretaker Dave's house. Bonnie couldn't be content to cause the bread to fall on the cage floor, after all. It had to fall on the carpeted floor, knowing Dave would undergo a massive degree of exasperation, seeing that his carpet was once again soiled. Yep. Again. This wasn't the first time. "There", thought Bonnie, "my work here is done. It feels so good to create anarchy."

Tuesday night was the proverbial dark and stormy night that Charlie Brown's beagle, Snoopy, continually tried to elucidate upon, albeit unsuccessfully. But that is for another story, at another time. Caretaker Dave had left the 'keets alone that night, going to a musical jam session, an opportunity to leave behind the tension of incessantly trying to make sure the birds were happy. Basically, Dave was a good-natured character, but was beginning to have doubts about the birds, especially Bonnie. Dave had recently listened to a record by the 80's group, the Talking Heads, in which leader David Byrne (yep, another Dave) lamented in his song, "Animals", that "they (the animals) laugh at us." Dave (caretaker Dave, that is) had long suspected that Bonnie the parakeet was indeed extremely capable of avian subversion, but to what degree, he wasn't sure. He knew that Clyde was a nice little bird; in fact, Clyde always let the more domineering Bonnie have her way. She would knock him to the floor of the bird cage again and again, but all Clyde could do was fall more deeply in love with Bonnie. It truly was a tough love. A shining example of the old philosophy, "love is for the birds". And Bonnie the 'keet was one tough lovebird. Nothing lovey-dovey about her.

With Caretaker Dave away at a jam session, Bonnie the 'keet began to hatch a plan; a dastardly scheme that in the end would frustrate poor ol' Dave, and result in nothing but futility for Bonnie, but we haven't come to that part of the story yet. Please bear with me. This story does have a conclusion. Honest. With Dave gone, Bonnie bird-whispered to Clyde, "I'm tired of being cooped up in this cage, I don't care how many stupid little parakeet toys Dave has bought for our cage. I'm gonna make a break for it. You in?" It must be stated here that Clyde, in a former life, had been the bookkeeper of a public library, and as such, he possessed a more practical interpretation of "life with caretaker Dave". Basically, Clyde said to Bonnie, "look, Dave gives us plenty of food, puts fresh newspapers in the bottom of the cage every other day, and gives us dumb little bird-toys to play with, and even if we think he's totally off his rocker, he does have a good heart. Nope, ol' gal, I'm stayin' here. If you make a break for it, you gotta go it alone." Ever frustrated with her spineless cage-mate's lack of vision, she exhorted, "Clyde, for cryin' out loud, you gotta spread your wings and fly on, free bird!" Now Clyde always did appreciate references derived from old rock and roll songs, but he valued the security of the cage. "Nope", he told Bonnie, "I'm only a bird in a gilded cage." Bonnie shouted back, "That's CRAP, Clyde...what kind of price can you put on freedom?" To which Clyde answered in best succint fashion, "CHEEP."

Bonnie, fuming, couldn't bear to sit on the same perch with Clyde anymore. She made her way to another perch, as far away from Clyde as she could get, and there began to ruminate on possible ways she could acquire her freedom. It was a dark and stormy night, after all, and there wasn't much to DO but ruminate. After all, she couldn't bring herself to nibble on the string of beads attached to the mirror of her little parakeet toy anymore. She was tired of life. Tired of frustration. Tired of not being able to migrate south with all of the other birds she saw through the window of Dave's living room. I told you Dave had a good heart. He had placed Bonnie and Clyde's cage in front of the window so they could see the great out-of-doors. Thinking he'd done good at giving the birds something to look at, he couldn't have been more wrong, for Bonnie's desire to escape the clanging metal bars of the bird cage, which she thought of more as a cell, had not been awakened until she had seen what was out there. All of a sudden, the birdcage was just a wee-bit too small for comfortability anymore.

After being away for a few hours, it was about midway through that dark and stormy night when caretaker Dave emerged through the back door, which would later become a pivotal point which would figure highly in Bonnie's life within the next few hours. "I see he comes through that door, and how about that, it actually opens and closes", Bonnie thought to herself. For a parakeet such as Bonnie, realizing that doors actually did open was a great revelation indeed. Birds don't know an awful lot, after all. Neither does George W. Bush, but he's another kind of bird altogether. He needs to be in a cage. CHEEP! But I digress here. After processing that information, Bonnie looked around the birdcage again. She had counted every single bar in her bird cage innumerable times. She even passed the time by counting every single seed in the food tray...she would count as she ate the seeds, driving poor ol' Clyde away until she couldn't eat...or count...any more. As I said, birds don't know a lot, and as such, they can't count especially high. This is why parakeets never get hired as elevator operators; anything above the third floor just doesn't compute. It's a bird thing.

Bonnie then lapsed into sleep. Deep in her sub-conscious, the cries of freedom from her feathered kindred spirits called out to her. She dreamed that all her bird brethren...Eagles, Finches, Sparrows, Mud hens and so forth were all singing the old Tim Hardin song from 1968, "Sing a Simple Song of Freedom". She fantasized about heading south with other renegade parakeets. In a dreamlike state, she became one with her fellow parakeets, fantasizing about the tropical homeland her ancestors had called home. That was long before the "parakeet plunderers" had invaded the land, thinking the 'keets would make great (and CHEEP) house pets. Things were never the same for the worldwide parakeet community after that. In her dreams Bonnie was thinking, "home...home...there's no place like home...there's no place like home", and then wondered, "how did that little black dog get into this dream?" CLANG! BANG! Morning had broken! (apologies to Cat Stevens--or is that "Allah Von Rachman Islam?") Bonnie and Clyde were both unceremoniously awakened by caretaker Dave, who hadn't had his morning coffee yet. Making his way to the bird cage, Dave bumped into a few walls, tripped over some furniture, and landed with a resounding "thud" on the front wall next to the bird cage. "doggone it", Dave thot to himself, "these ungrateful birds have thrown bird seed all over the floor, and now I've gotta clean it up. I hope these dumb birds appreciate me." By the way, Dave was never a morning person, which is why he failed so miserably in math classes. They were always held first thing in the morning. Now you know.

So, Dave wandered into the kitchen, where he kept the bird seed. One morning, before coffee, he accidentally sprinkled bird seed onto his toast, thinking, "wow, this bread is extra crunchy this morning!" But this wasn't that morning; it was another morning. Just another morning in the life of Caretaker Dave, who had recently left his boyhood home for greener pastures. Greener, because it rained more in his present location. Dave was an unassuming hobbyist of sorts; he collected records and made vain attempts to play lead-guitar, ignoring the advice of better guitarists everywhere who would say, "Dave, just stick to the chords and play the rhythm; don't even TRY to play leads!" So Dave was also frustrated; he wanted to play like Eric Clapton or Carlos Santana, but he only had the modest three-chord strumming facility of, say, a Porter Wagoner or Buck Owens. All Dave had to do was 'act naturally', after all. Old dreams die hard, don't they? But I digress once again. One of my former employers once told me that I had a hard time staying "on task", and I'm inclined to agree. But back to the bird story, because I'm sure you're all falling off the edge of your seats, wondering what's gonna happen next...or not...

Caretaker Dave, still without the benefit of a morning cuppa coffee, unceremoniously grabbed the hapless plastic bird seed container (all right, "BAG"), and stumbled back into the living room, where the parakeets, he thought, would be awaiting him with wings open, ever-grateful for his devotion to these two beautiful creatures who chirped and squawked and kept him from feeling 'The Sounds of Silence' too heavily. (Hmmm...all of these musical references...maybe I should write some lyrics while I'm at it!) Back to the story...Caretaker Dave was at the point where, living with other human beings actually drove him batty, so he lived alone. But, he thought, "this is for the birds", and all of a sudden, spontaneous inspiration struck him, and off he went to the pet store and got...you guessed it...BIRDS! Continuing towards the bird cage, Dave opened the door so he could get at the seed tray. "Hmm", he thot, "Clyde's on his perch, waiting for food, but Bonnie is tensely poised on the side of the cage, clinging to the steel bars...what's up with her?" (Dave's thots always ramble. He makes mountains out of molehills. And then picks the mountains apart, converting them to little molehills all over again. It is a life of futility, for sure.)

IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE, all of a sudden, the air rushed from the inside of the birdcage as Bonnie began to flap her wings with the intensity of a hapless San Diego defender rushing to sack the Seahawks' quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck. (sports analogy there!) And ZOOM!!! As Dave reached into the cage to take the seed tray out so he could feed the birds, Bonnie pounced! She dashed! She DARTED OUT OF THE CAGE, all the while thinking to herself, "I'm free!!! I'm FREEEEEEEE!!!!! WHEEEEEEEE!!!!!" Of course, Bonnie, being a bird after all, was not familiar with the concept of walls. All she knew was, she was inside, not out of doors, and somehow, the weather she saw outside did not actually invade her cage, because after all, she was inside. She didn't know how she got there, but she was inside. That's just the way it was. And, not knowing that it takes WALLS to hold up the roof of the house she was INSIDE of, "WHUMP!!!" She flew straight into the wall, and BAM!!!!!, knocked herself silly in the process. But she made an instant recovery, and looking off to her left, she saw that strange thing called a DOOR that Caretaker Dave had come through the night before. And she thot, "I'M GONNA MAKE A BREAK FOR IT! I wanna "FLY LIKE AN EAGLE!!!" (gosh, them musical references...you'd think I collected records or something.)

Bonnie, flying at last "Upon the Wings of Freedom" (that's the title of an album by Mylon LeFevre and Alvin Lee from 1973), headed for the door she saw open the other night. She furtively hoped that door was open, so she could zoom outside and soar with the seagulls. As she headed towards the door, she thought about Clyde, her cage partner. "I hope he's okay...well, actually, I don't wish him ill will...well, it's his own fault, I told him I was gonna escape...actually, Clyde is just a dumb bird...a synchophantic pig who eats from the food tray incessantly and chirps along to rock and roll music, ever trying to get on Caretaker Dave's good side...okay, okay, I guess Clyde is actually a FUNCTIONAL IDIOT." This is a flaw among criminals and escapees; they believe they are superior to others and are basically invincible. And this is what Bonnie thought as she headed for the door, with the gates of freedom beckoning on the other side..."Heeeere I go!!! There's the door!!! I'm OUTTA HERE!!!", thot Bonnie as she neared the entrance. She'd never felt this sense of bird-exhiliration before; it was at this moment she became truly alive, carrying all of the hopes and dreams of her parakeet brethren upon her shoulders; she madly headed for the door, "THIS IS IT", she thought; "HERE I GO!!!!!!!!"

WHAM!!!!!!!!!!! Bonnie, betrayed by her lack of intellect and judgment (she is just a parakeet, after all), forgot the most important principle of the bird-escape process...and that would be, "just as doors open, they also close". Of course, had she known that, there was a 50-50 probability that the door would be open, and she might have chanced it anyway. However, in this case, the door was CLOSED, and no matter how she used her head as a battering ram, alas, the door held and she CRASHED into the door and landed on the floor with a resounding "THUNK!!!" In the distance, she saw Caretaker Dave approach with a towel in his hand, but she was "Dazed and Confused" (a Led Zeppelin song title), and could not move. Funny thing, though, unlike human beings who smash their heads into things, she didn't hear the customary bird whistles and tweets that come from knocking yourself silly. Dave threw the towel over Bonnie, who all of a sudden, didn't know where she was, and since she was dazed too much to move at all, let Caretaker Dave pick her up; she was still inside the confines of the towel...she heard Dave's feet upon the floor...thump...thump...step...step...and then all of a sudden, there was silence. Dave took the towel-enclosed parakeet and put it inside the cage; gently unraveling the towel until at last Bonnie found she was back in the cage, and there was ol' Clyde, still whistling and chirping away. After Dave took the towel out of the bird cage, Bonnie chirped to Clyde, "well, did you miss me? I've been gone a while"...and Clyde, looking up from his seed tray, replied, "Bonnie, IT'S LIKE YOU NEVER LEFT." (the title of a Dave Mason album).

And somewhere, they say, the music still plays
And robins and sparrows live out their days
Flying on the wind and soaring so free
For freedom is theirs and ever will be
But back in the cage, the parakeets remain
As dreams of freedom go down the ol' drain.
And somewhere birds soar, somewhere do they fly
But in Bonnie's case, all she's got is Clyde
She wonders if she should escape once more
But then she remembers the pain from the door.
And dreams do soar; but they also die
And Bonnie has kissed her freedom goodbye.
The story's moral? Well, here it is posed;
"Before you fly, make sure the door ain't CLOSED!"
____________________

I guess I'll never make it as a "Paperback Writer" (oops, another song title there). This is basically an artistic (or not) embellishment of something that actually happened. And Bonnie the parakeet is a little mellower these days. Despite her restlessness, she tries to be nicer to Clyde. And every time she dreams of freedom, the dream always ends with the closing of a door. So she tries not to dream anymore.

4 Comments:

Blogger Jinx said...

glad she wasn't hurt with all her flying around.

7:53 PM  
Blogger Word Tosser said...

too funny

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Kick Shoe said...

Poor Bonnie. My grandparents had a parakeet that they let roam the house. Bonnie should be free. She'd be nicer to Clyde that way. Or not.

Yoda!

5:44 PM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

Well, dear Cathy (first of all, thanks for stopping by!), the windows can be a 'keet's worst enemy. BAM!!! You get the idea. And she escaped again yesterday. Neurotic bird!

10:54 PM  

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