Have you ever had a pet that you had to make excuses for? I’m not talking about, “Ooops! I’m so sorry Fido tinkled on your floor. He’s getting a little on in years.” More like, “She really doesn’t want to hurt you; she’s just a sociopath.” My bird, Lorraine, is in the latter category.
Lorraine is a parrotlet, and is named after the Patty Griffin song “Sweet Lorraine” which is about a wonderful(ly insane) family member with a sordid past and a devil-may-care attitude. Little did I realize when I named her this that she would turn into a colorful, muttering lunatic reminiscent of the character in the song.
Lorraine is a 2 ounce bundle of charming tweets and chirps dressed in bright green feathers… to me. To others, she is an evil presence, an assassin with razor sharp talons, a crushing beak, laser vision, and fire breath.
What Lorraine looks like to me.
What Lorraine looks like to EVERYONE ELSE.
When I approach her cage she twitters excitedly, eager to delicately alight on my finger, cocking her head adorably to the side as if she is asking me a question. She gratefully gobbles the cheerios I hold for her, carefully avoiding my fingers with her beak, while happily tweeting.
When others approach, she puffs up her feathers menacingly, growling and snarling, pacing back and forth on her perch. If she could speak, she would probably sound like Robert De Niro in “Taxi Driver”. “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Tweet. Then who the hell else are you talking… you talking to me? Well I’m the only one here… chirp, chirp.”
And even though I am not blind to her faults, I feel compelled to defend her. Loyalty like hers should be rewarded after all. And it’s kind of flattering to be someone’s favorite person in the whole world… even if that someone will poop on your shoulder given the opportunity.
So, when she swoops from my shoulder and dive bombs a guest in my home, and I have to retrieve her from her perch on a picture frame where she sits squawking and glowering at the “intruder”, I say, “Silly birdie. No one is scared of you! You’re too cute!” And my guest smiles thinly as he or she gets up off the floor, brushing the lint from their pants after diving to the carpet in self-defense.
When an unsuspecting soul puts a finger in her cage and withdraws a bloody digit, I chuckle and say, “Oh, Lorraine! You don’t know your own strength!” and offer the victim a Hello Kitty Band-Aid. (Some Band-Aids, such as the Hello Kitty variety, have magical healing properties, but that’s a discussion for another time.)
And when she sits on my shoulder, nuzzling my earlobes and quietly twittering in my ear, and her former victims look at me in disbelief, a little voice inside me says, “Muahahahahah! I am the Beast Master!”