Back when I first bought my house, I was driving down my street one night, checking out the other houses. I can't remember for sure anymore, but I may not actually have bought the house yet. I think was I under contract at that point, impatiently waiting until the end of the month when all my first time homebuyer dreams would come true. Two houses down from my house was a neatly-kept two-story with a great big window into the living room. It was dark, but there was some kind of dim light source in the room, and I could see the silhouette of a tall perch with a bird. A large bird. Parrot-sized.
I may have squealed.
If I were to be the winner on the Win An Exotic Pet Of Your Choice show, I would surely ask for a parrot. Or a llama! Maybe a wallaby. Most likely, I would start shaking and stammering and yelling out all those animals at once, plus a few more, before fainting dead away. Since the smiling host would be unable to decipher my response of "parlamaby," they would likely just give me a goat. What a stupid game show.
Anyway, I took this brief glimpse of a parrot as a sign that I had made the right choice in buying the house. I mean, these were clearly my people: Parrot Enthusiasts. Or rather, I was an enthusiast, but they had achieved the lofty title of Parrot Owner.
Some of you who thought you knew me well are wondering what I'm even talking about, as you are fairly sure that I have never mentioned any but the regular amount of appreciation for parrots. But it's true! I like birds in general. I didn't even realize that about myself until I happened to notice that my house was littered with bird knick-knacks and pictures. Give me a loaf of bread and a group of ducks and I am happy as, uh, a duck being fed bread. Exotic birds are particularly fun, and brightly colored feathers are just the best.
I had only had one previous encounter with a parrot. Once, I went to a pet shop that had a scarlet macaw set up right in front of the door. I'm sure it really brought in the customers; in fact, that might have been why I went inside. It talked, like something out of a cartoon. It also jumped on my shoulder, which was terrifying and wonderful.
Anyway, I became obsessed with my new parrot neighbor. Similar to the rubber-necking I do every time we go past our very rich neighbors with the llamas, I always looked in that same front window for the parrot as I passed. Usually, I saw an empty room or a kid sitting too close to the TV. I suppose I could've, you know, asked or something, but that would require developing an actual relationship with the neighbors, rather than being on a head-nod-basis only. I began to have doubts that I had seen a parrot at all. It just seemed too crazy. I eventually forgot all about it.
You know where this is going. It would be a really pointless story if I just imagined a parrot because I'm some kind of Parrot Enthusiast. This story is overlong, but it does have a point.
A couple of weeks ago, we were walking the dog around the neighborhood, which, based on my stories, is all I ever do anymore. It was a magnificent day, warm and right off a refreshing rain. The pollen had all been washed away and it seemed as if overnight the plants had all taken a great big drink of water and just popped out of nowhere. Everyone was making good use of the weather by doing yard work (except for us, because yard work - ha!), including the people who I once thought were Parrot Owners. We waved.
And there it was: a scarlet macaw, just sitting on the rail of the front porch. It squawked.
It was really hard to play it cool, as inside my head, it sounded like Beatlemania. Keep it casual, don't stare, just look over there nonchalantly, like it's totally normal for a giant tropical bird to be sitting on the porch of suburban Raleigh.
We really need to make better friends with our neighbors.