Jerry Della Femina
MY DEAD BIRD (8/11/20)
My birds are laughing at me.
It started when I went on coronavirus lockdown on March 13.
After I was in my stuck in my house for a month their tweets started to sound happier.
Now these aren’t like Donald Trump’s tweets, which sometimes make no sense at all.
These birds have a brain, albeit a birdbrain.
I think I know what they’re saying.
TWEET! “I guess this schmuck is finally getting a taste of his own medicine.”
TWEET! “This is what he gets for keeping us in a cage all these years.”
What goes around comes around.
What follows is an old column that I wrote years ago.
It will tell you that this isn’t anything new.
The fact is I have no luck with birds …
It started years ago when we had two lovebirds. They spent part of the time in their cage in our garden chirping and tweeting their little asses off.
Then one day I got a call from my wife, the beautiful Judy Licht.
“The sneaky bastard ran away.”
My answer was: “What sneaky bastard ran away?”
“The bird. He must have squeezed through the bars on the cage. He’s gone. She looks devastated. He broke her heart. She’s chirping and looking for him.”
Three days later came a call from an even more furious Judy: “She’s gone. She slipped out of the cage this afternoon. It’s a mistake, I tell you – she’s making a mistake trying to find him. He’s no good.”
Over the years we have had birds in more secure birdcages, but with little luck and more problems.
A few years ago we noticed that one of our two lovebirds, Tony the Second (we named the birds after the characters in “The Sopranos”) was having trouble breathing. His cute little bird chest was heaving.
Now, being a typical Italian sexist male, I immediately blamed Carmela, the female bird, for Tony’s problem.
She was always all over him. Cooing, necking, clinging to him and Tony couldn’t keep up with her. They don’t call them “lovebirds” for nothing.
Now he was having trouble breathing.
I had noticed Tony trying to get away from Carmela’s kinky sexual demands by hanging around at the bottom of the cage, alone.
Naturally we called our vet, who made a house call. She said Tony was in trouble and the only thing that might save him was oxygen. So an oxygen tank was produced, and the cage was covered in an oxygen tent. Oxygen was pumped into the cage and for the next two days, Tony rallied, but on Sunday Tony had a relapse and flew off to that big birdcage in the sky. That was a few hundred bucks spent on oxygen gone into thin air.
That wasn’t the first lovebird that Carmela buried.
Tony the First tried to keep up with that nymphomaniac Carmela and one day we looked into the cage and he was at the bottom – dead.
The widow Carmela, cool as a cucumber, was sitting on her perch chirping away. I say she was dreaming of a new boy toy.
With Tony the Second gone, we had to go through the process once again. Finding a new bird is not easy.
When Tony the First died it precipitated a crisis in the Della Femina household. Judy immediately sprang to action and spent two days googling “lovebirds,” looking to find a mate for the widowed lovebird.
Now, you must understand that Judy doesn’t buy anything easily. She first buys at least $150 to $200 worth of books, which she reads from cover to cover, and then she asks friends, then she goes on the internet. Then she asks everyone’s opinion but mine. Hell, if he were still alive, Judy would have consulted with the Birdman of Alcatraz.
Judy spent most of a three-hour drive from East Hampton telling me how she was proceeding with her intricate plan to find a new lovebird.
“What’s the big deal?” I said. “Do you have to go on Match.com for birds? Let’s just go to a pet shop and buy a f**king lovebird. Throw him in the f**king cage with the widow bird and let them get it on.”
“WRONG!” she screamed. “If you just put them together like that the female will peck the male to death.”
“Judy,” I said in the soft voice I usually use when I think I’m saying something profound. “That’s life. It’s the same in every relationship; sooner or later one of the participants will peck the other to death.”
Silence. Twenty-five miles of silence. Judy pretended to read a newspaper but inside she was seething at my great insight into life.
When she decided to talk to me again she pointed out that finding a mate for a single lovebird is an intricate process in which you must set up a cage next to the cage of the bird that just lost a loved one so that the two birds can see each other and “socialize” with each other for two or three weeks before they can be brought together.
“Are we running a singles bar for birds?” was my unthinking answer. This led to a few more miles of silence.
Judy then read me something from Google, which made my blood run cold.
“Take proper steps to bring in a new bird; keep your lovebird company by sitting by his cage and taking the time to talk to him. It will keep him from becoming too depressed. Even if he’s not hand-tamed, he will appreciate the company.”
That’s when I lost it.
“You want me to sit next to a birdcage and talk to a f**king bird? How about if I read to him? How about if I read him ‘To Kill a F**king Mockingbird’?” This outburst brought eight more miles of silence.
Then we got a new bird. His cage was set up next to the other bird’s cage. The house was filled with bird chirps.
Judy was beside herself with joy. “Hear that?” she said. “They’re socializing. They’re communicating.” I rushed out of the bedroom to see.
“What do you mean they’re communicating? She’s chirping away at him in her cage and he is quiet and staring in the other direction in his cage.”
“Just like real life,” said Judy with a wry smile. “That seems to be the only way we communicate too, my dear.”
Score that one for Judy. Peck … peck … peck … peck …
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