Dear Amazon Parrot I Have Been Supporting for Over 15 Years Who Still Tries to Bite Me for No Apparent Reason,
I am writing because I have a surprise for you. Ever since you’ve been living with me (rent-free, I might add), you have led me to believe you can’t understand a single word I say. Even a simple command like “Please stop pecking at my eyes” goes unheeded. You’ve also seemed completely unable to imitate human speech. For an embarrassing number of years, I carefully repeated the same simple words and phrases, always hoping that someday you might repeat them back to me. One morning I would be preparing your usual gigantic breakfast assortment of tropical fruits, whole-grain toast points, and pricey organic cereals, when a wee voice would issue from your little feathered head and you would finally say to me, “You’re such a pretty bird! I love you, pretty bird!” That was my dream.
Instead, over a decade later, you have apparently learned only three vocalizations: the cackling laugh of an evil hag (a sarcastic parody of my own innocent laughter?); a tuneless steam-whistle sound rising in pitch like an engine about to explode; and your favorite, the sudden, high-decibel bloodcurdling scream.
Well, guess what? Recent scientific research has finally exposed your perfidious avian secret: Several parrots have been proven to understand and speak perfect English. As a result, we now know that your species has self-awareness, awareness of the feelings of others, and a heretofore unimagined intelligence. Unimagined by me, anyway, since you never indicated by word (ha-ha!) or deed that you possessed anything more than the simple self-seeking cognition of a lower animal, like, say, a cat. I actually felt sorry for you and your tiny bird brain.
But now I know the truth, Amazon Parrot I Have Been Supporting for Over 15 Years Who Still Tries to Bite Me for No Apparent Reason. You have lived a life of deception and mockery at my expense. And I do mean “at my expense.” You are a high-maintenance money pit with feathers. Even though I raised you from a baby, and protected you from all harm, you still won’t let me touch your precious little feet and razor-sharp beak without attempting to kill me. As a result, I am forced to pay for a visit to the bird vet every time you need a trim. Yes, only a highly paid professional can safely handle your temper tantrums, your rabid biting, and your needlelike claws aimed at her face.
And what about the overpriced toys I have lavished upon you, only to see you cringe and act as if I’d left a slavering monster in your cage whenever I present you with the latest carefully designed construction guaranteed to “keep your bird happy and intellectually stimulated”? The cleverly designed spiral exercise ladder I bought for you two weeks ago, which you attacked and demolished in a matter of minutes, cost me over $60. I’m not made of money, you know. Oh, that’s right—you do know, because you have been eavesdropping on every conversation I’ve ever had within your hearing, no doubt filing away any information that could be used to manipulate me in the future.
However, O Exalted One, you apparently can’t be bothered to actually carry on a conversation with me, even though it is now very clear that you have the ability. Why not? Am I not interesting enough for you, Your Highness? Do you sneer at my lowly human intelligence? Or perhaps you have made a secret rule for yourself that it is beneath your majestic dignity to speak to your groveling servant.
Now that I think of it, I’m actually paying for the “privilege” of serving you. My life now revolves around you and your many needs, all because I thought you were cute and helpless and unable to fend for yourself in this complex world. But it isn’t complex for you, is it? You simply demand, and it is done for you. Your wordless scream has been carefully calculated to waver around the exact eardrum-shattering pitch that will drive me into frenzied attempts to placate you so that the awful noise will stop. And, all these years, you could have simply asked me politely for whatever you required.
But no, you kept your cognitive and language abilities to yourself, forcing me to guess frantically at what you wanted, and shrieked like a nuclear warning siren whenever I couldn’t somehow psychically pick up on the exact nature of your request. It is now obvious that you are quite the little intellectual, and that your species isn’t afraid to use our human technology for your own ends. Now that I have read about your fellow parrots’ ability to operate a computer so it will show only the pictures they prefer (pictures of themselves, of course), I think I have figured out just how my new laptop got infected with a mysterious virus that destroyed the hard drive.
Well, the next time you bite into me for no apparent reason, your evil charade will come to an end. I will feel free to demand that you apologize immediately in grammatical, clearly enunciated English. If no such apology is forthcoming, you will find yourself tossed out on the street. Where the hawks and eagles live. Just try playing dumb with them, Amazon Parrot I Have Been Supporting for Over 15 Years Who Still Tries to Bite Me for No Apparent Reason. I’ll bet those raptors are just as smart as you.