The day before Christmas my parakeet, Pavo Rotti, was poking around the bottom of his cage. I looked in to see what he was scratching up. “What’s going on Pavo,” I asked.

“Tell me Big Guy, is there a water shortage around ‘ere?”

Pavo has problems with English and having been born to an Aussie mother he occasionally slips and drops his h’s or mixes up his a’s and i’s. He’s also been told we drive on the wrong side of the road so I question him carefully to keep from embarrassing him and causing him to clam up.

“A water shortage? Where’d you get that idea Pavo?”

“Well last evening a whole bunch of little big guys went by the house. They were dressed sort of funny and were singing ‘No-Well, No-Well, No-Well, No-Well.’ Sounds like a water shortage to me.”

I chuckled lightly, but not enough for him to notice. “Oh, those were carolers Pavo, spreading the good news of the season.”

“You’re dodging the question again Big Guy. Since when is a water shortage good news? Does it have anything to do with the weather? Haven’t had much rain lately.”

“Let me explain Pavo. Noel is a song of celebration spelled n-o-e-l. It is from the French noël which in turn has its origin in the Latin natalis. It has to do with celebrating a birth. The English used it first in the early 1800’s in a Christmas Carol called the First Noel.”

I sang the refrain several times so he’d understand.
“Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.”

Pavo, of course, is an aspiring opera singer but his beady eyes still showed no sense of appreciation as he squinted at me. “Why are you celebrating the birth of a king?” he asked. “I thought you lived in a democracy.”

“You see Pavo, Noel is also synonymous with the term of Christmastide, the span of days from Christmas Eve, December 24th to January 6th, the feast of the Epiphany. It’s the bridge from the old year to the New Year.”

”There you go with the water again Big Guy. Does this Christmas tide thing wash away the wreckage of the past year?”

“It’s time for a celebration. Twelve days of Christmas. Surely you’ve heard the song.”

“Is that the one involving a bunch of birds?” asked Pavo, warming up to the subject.

“Yup. Turtle doves, French hens, calling birds, geese and swans. And don’t forget the partridge in a pear tree.

Pavo looked puzzled. “What’s that, a calling bird? Is that somebody who sounds like me on the telephone?”

“It’s a little complicated Pavo. They were black birds, black as coal, as in colliery, a coal mine. Actually were called colly birds in old English.”

“And what are they in new English?”

“Still blackbirds.”

“But nothing about parakeets?”

“They weren’t known during the era when the song was popular.”

“Don’t you see why I feel neglected B.G.? I’m not a part of anything.”

“Pavo. We consider you to be one of the family.”

“That doesn’t help Big Guy. That means I have to put up with your relatives and I don’t want to be involved in a repeat of Thanksgiving.”

“So, what’s your alternative Pavo?”

“I’m going to go find my mother.”

“Get real Pavo. The last we heard, she was in Seattle somewhere. That was a year ago.”

“I’ll find her.”

“I hate to point out the circumstance of your residence here Pavo. But there’s no easy way out and even if you get outside, you’ll freeze in the cold.”

Pavo was quick to reply. “But global warming’s fixing that B.G.. Look at today’s temperature. Near the end of December and it’s still in the fifties.

“If you’re thinking of flying west, the Rockies will take care of that notion Pavo.”

“I’m not going that way. I plan to take the southern route.”

“That’s a long way.”

“Six thousand miles was a short hop to my ancestors. And in keeping with their adventurous spirit I plan to fly down the East Coast to Jacksonville, go west toward New Orleans, bear WSW to Galveston, on to Chihuahua, up to Yuma, then all the way up the west coast to Seattle. I expect to get there in the spring,”

“But you get tired just flying around the room Pavo. And with the doors closed, how do you plan to get out?”

“You’re not the only friend I have around here B.G. I’m sure Phydeaux will lend a hand, um … er, paw.”

“You’d better think about this overnight,” I said as I put the cover on his cage.

This morning when I got up, Pavo’s cage was lying on the floor. A cool breeze flowed across the floor from the open cat door. Its flap was held up by the braided rug that looked as if it had been shoved there by Phydeaux in one of his slides across the slick hardwood floor trying to intercept Phallix the cat. Pavo was nowhere to be seen.

A three by five note card on my desk had a haiku made up of individual letters plucked from the newspaper lining the bottom of his cage. Pavo must have spent half the night flying back and forth between his cage and my desk.

The snow gets too tiring
And fear of travel exists no more
Seattle and mother await me

I stood the cage stand back on its base, swept up the birdseed that had been scattered across the floor and took the cage back to the attic. But I left it where it was easily accessible, – just in case Pavo has a change of heart.

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I flicked on the light in the family room last night to check out the noise.. I’d heard some scrabbling about while I was on my way to bed and was afraid that Phallix the cat might be harassing my puny pal Pavo again. It was just Pavo at his seed dish.

Pavo looked up and blinked. “Sorry to hear about your eyes Big Guy,” he said through a mouthful of millet. “Is it serious?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about Pavo.”

“I just overheard you and Mrs. Big Guy talking about getting eye pads so I figure you might have an eye infection. Maybe conjunctivitis, or something like that?”

“Um . . . let’s talk about this Pavo. Because you happen to be the subject of our discussion.”

“Whatever you plan to accuse me of, remember, I’m innocent ‘til proven guilty. And I’ve been here in my cage all evening.”

“But where were you this afternoon Pavo? And don’t give me that virtuous look. It doesn’t work anymore.”

“Well, you did leave your computer running Big Guy, And all I was trying to do was reach one of my fans.”

“The only fan you should be interested in is the kind that could chop your tail off Pavo.”

“Wait a minute B.G., you’re the one who started all this blogging stuff and it’s not my fault that I have a fan club now.”

“But you left my computer keyboard a mess Pavo. It’s totally unusable. What were you thinking?”

“If you must know Big Guy I was thinking of becoming a hero.”

“A hero? How did you intend to do that?”

“Back up for a minute B.G. Let me tell you the whole story.”

“This better be good Pavo. If it’s not, it’s out in the winter cold for you.”

“I’m a friendly kind of guy, as you know Big Guy. And you’re also aware of my doo-doo dot clairvoyancing powers. Usually, all you have to do is put a piece of paper with something somebody has written on the bottom of my cage. Then, after it gets covered by doo-doo dots, I scratch through them and I can tell what the writer really has in mind.”

“How does my keyboard enter into this discussion?”

“All this new computer stuff makes it awkward. When you put something somebody has written up on the computer screen, I can’t do my act because it’s displayed vertically. So, putting two and two together I figured out the keyboard was the connection.”

“But . . .but”

“Don’t ‘but’ out yet Big Guy. It worked.”

“What worked? Not the keyboard anymore. The keys might as well have been Superglued together.”

“But I got the message. Right up there on the screen. Two clues. I-land and res-Q.”

“Are you sure you weren’t getting a message from one of your teenage friends? That sure looks like a Twitter tweet to me.”

“I’m really impressed B.G. You’re finally beginning to understand bird talk. I guess during all my twittering and tweeting, you were actually listening.”

“But the message makes no sense.”

“On second thought, I’m disappointed B.G. You’re not paying attention after all. The message is telling me that it’s from a lady who lives on an island and wants to be rescued.”

“C’mon Pavo. There’s no way you’re going to get a human lady off an island. You’ve been watching too many James Bond movies.”

“A big guy lady? I was thinking more like a budgie beauty. I could handle that.”

“And what island are you talking about Pavo. We’ve got a million of them scattered across the face of the earth. If you don’t happen to have a specific one in mind you’d just be spinning your wheels, . . . digging a pit, metaphorically speaking.”

“Wow! You’re a genius B.G. You’ve just given me another clue, the word pit.”

“If that’s supposed to be a clue Pavo the only Island I know that begins with pit is Pitcairn?”

“That’s it!” said Pavo, bouncing up and down inside his cage. “We’ve solved the message. Now I can get to do the hero part.”

“Slow down Pavo. Do you have any idea where the island is?”

“I know exactly where it is. We stopped there on my original trip east, – on the slow boat from Australia. We stopped for water.”

“And you want to go back there?”

“Bingo Big Guy! But I need you to give me a hand because another piece of my clairvoyanced message that I forgot to tell you about also suggested there might be a bounty involved.

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“Could you make me an ice pack Big Guy?” groaned Pavo Rotti , staring lopsidedly between the bars of his cage. “And while you’re at it, make one for Mrs. Big Guy too?”

“What’s the problem budgie buddy?”

“I’ve got a headache that would stop a freight train.”

“Sorry to hear that pal. I’ll see what I can do.”

I found a soft blister pack from a vitamin pill package and filled it with a few chips shaved off an ice cube. I attached it to the top of his head with a tiny tot adhesive bandage.

“I don’t have much sympathy for you Pavo. You’ve got it coming after the way you acted yesterday.”

“But I was only taking my clue from your guests.”

“Those weren’t guests Pavo, those were family. You have to make some allowances for relatives.”

“I thought you told me once that an allowance was money given for good behavior. Your relatives should have been arrested and put in jail.”

“No. I mean allowance, like in leeway.”

“I’m glad they’re not my relatives Big Guy. By the way, why were they here?”

“Big Boris is my nephew. Lil’ Loris is his wife. I invited them for the holiday, to break our bread, sip our spirits, and share our gratitude.”

“But all she did was complain about the relatives who weren’t here. And all he did was drink and drowse, and burp and belch in front of the TV all afternoon.”

“But it was quiet after he passed out, wasn’t it?”

“A small favor. And what was the creature covered with tattoos and sporting multiple nose rings, a circus clown?”

“No. That was Bambi, their teen-age daughter. She’s making a statement Pavo. All teenagers make statements.”

“Looked more like a loud exclamation to me. And they could’ve left those little hummers home too.”

“You’re too sensitive Pavo. That was the nine year old twins Barney and Bernie showing their childlike curiosity and creativity. I like that in kids. And there were only a few small accidents.”

“Third time was no accident. Those delinquents kept tipping my cage over to see if I could get away from Phallix the cat. My composure is now shot, along with my tail feathers.”

“Be charitable Pavo. Why can’t you just credit their actions to the natural exuberance of youth.”

“I would have Big Guy until they put me in the fishbowl to see if I could swim. Poor Miss Goldie almost had a heart attack.”

“But you got out okay, right?”

“Phallix the cat fished me out. But his intentions were not pure I’m not afraid to say. I was lucky to escape. Fortunately, the same moment he opened up to put the bite on me, they let in Phydeaux your puckish poodle. While Phallix was scrambling to the top of the refrigerator he let go of me by accident. I barely made it back to my cage.”

“But they did stop playing with you after a while.”

“Long enough to write on the new living room wallpaper with those fluorescent crayons. Then they left my cage door open.”

“Why didn’t you just stay put.”

“By that time I was dehydrated from the exercise Big Guy. After they tipped over my cage there was no water left. I needed something to drink. I found Boris asleep in front of the football game on TV and took a couple slugs from the glass resting on his belly.”

“But he was drinking my fourteen year old scotch.”

“Now you tell me Big Guy. Not only was I still thirsty after I got my drink, but it left me with this humungous hangover.”

“I saw your aerial exhibition. Precision flying it was not.”

“But I wasn’t deliberately flying under the influence Big Guy. Those were evasion tactics. Those little ankle snappers were trying to bring me down with a squash racket.”

“How did you get away?”

“Hid behind the valance on the drapes until you big guys sat down to eat. I reeled back to my cage while the food fight was on. I never stayed awake long enough to see the mess.”

“It wasn’t so bad. My soul mate has a new all purpose cleaner that took most of the cranberry juice out of the damask tablecloth. And the yams and turkey gravy wiped clean from the new wallpaper with a few swipes of a sponge.”

“I still don’t understand why you invited them here.”

“There’s been a lot in the news lately about the importance of family values and I felt it was a good time to share with other members of my own. So I invited them to have Thanksgiving with us because we all know that good food and good company make for good friendships. And the family that prays together, stays together.”

“I don’t know Big Guy. I would have prayed for a different result.”

“Sorry Pavo. I guess it was tactless of me to invite my relatives without thinking about how it might affect you. I keep forgetting that you’re without kith or kin locally.”

“Except for a an old buddy I met at a farm in Iowa while I was on my way east from the left coast. But our paths crossed too briefly yesterday.”

“See Pavo. Then you do have something to be thankful for. You got to share a few moments of Thanksgiving with a former acquaintance.”

“Not so fast Big Guy. It was my old friend Tom the turkey. I recognized his tattoo. I only caught a glimpse of him on the platter just before you served him as your main course.”

Posted in My Pal Pavo | 1 Comment


“Tell me about sin Big Guy,” said Pavo. He was standing inside the door of his cage following his aerobic flight around the dining room, including a detour through our den.

“Is that a philosophical question my aqua aviator or is there something in your background you wish to get off your pecs?”

“Well, I didn’t get raptured up recently so I must be a sinner. But that’s not what brought up the question. When I stopped to rest near your computer after my morning exercises, I saw a notice for a writing contest, – the seven deadly sins. It looked like you were thinking of entering.”

“I will if I can put some ideas together Pavo. I need to pick one of the seven and pen a thousand word essay. But I’m suffering from writer’s block. I haven’t decided which one to attack.”

“You keep saying that talking is the laxative of the constipated intellect. Maybe describing them will get the creative bowels moving.”

“Okay Pavo. I’ll go alphabetically. Let me start with Anger. It’s a sense of emotion or displeasure excited by injury or insult. Also brought on by disputes involving ownership or competition. Often leads to a loss of objectivity.”

“I understand Big Guy. I’ve seen pictures of lions snarling over a gnu kill or of crocodiles tearing through a boar buffet. And on Nature I’ve seen sharks slashing one another with abandon, battling for food. But anger is such a common emotion, I’m afraid it wouldn’t be very interesting.”

“Okay Pavo. What about Avarice? This is one you won’t see among your animal friends. It’s an excessive desire to grab off everything and keep it for yourself. Greed and miserliness are good examples.”

“I guess you’ve never watched jackals in action. They’ll snatch anything within jaw range. Then they play keep-away with each other. Doesn’t make any difference if it’s a dead antelope, a dozing pit viper or a decaying turkey vulture. They’ll take anything, and it doesn’t make any difference how big or tough the owner is. I’ve known them to rob the king of the jungle of his lunch.”

“Okay. But what do you know about Envy Pavo?”

“Give me a clue.”

“That’s when you’re jealous of someone’s good fortune. You hate his success. You want to destroy him. As resentment boils up inside, you conjure up elaborate schemes to ruin his reputation.”

“Also pretty common among animals. Think of hyenas. They’re especially good at feints, diversions and distractions. And they like to rub it in. If they can’t get at you, they howl about it. But they howl if they can too.”

“The next sin, gluttony, doesn’t apply to you Pavo. You’re a dainty eater, but messy. Gluttons gorge themselves shamelessly on food and drink. The fact that their spillage could be used by those less fortunate never occurs to them. Gluttony is a sin unique to the human species. I’ve watched enough Nature programs on PBS to know that what looks like cruelty in the wild is anything but. Carnivores don’t kill randomly, – only to eat. And they eat only what they need.”

“Another false idea spread on that elitist TV channel. I’d bet you’ve never seen vultures squabbling over a kill. They’ll eat so much they can’t get off the ground. They’re especially good at engorging themselves after killing off sickly newborns and cripples. By the way Big Guy, I don’t like the way Phallix the cat keeps eyeing me.”

‘Sorry Pavo. I do my best to keep him away but at least since his neutering operation he’s no longer a lecher.”

“I’d bet that’s the next sin on the list.”

“Right. That’s a guy who can’t keep his thoughts or hands off members of the opposite sex. It doesn’t even matter if he’s married or committed to someone else. Your animal friends don’t act that way.”

“Hah! Have you ever seen a randy mountain goat? He always has a stable of females surrounding him. And he’s always got his nose where it’s not wanted. Ends up doing a lot of head butting and urinating on his beard. It’s a real macho thing. Females love him for it.”

“That goes along with the next sin, pride. That’s someone with an inflated image of his own importance. Believes the world can’t get by without him. Impressed only by himself. Tends to be uncivil, rude and arrogant. Disdainful of others.”

“Also describes the peacock Big Guy. Behind the loud, flashy colors and gaudy display is a small brain and a limited intellect.”

“In many ways Pavo, that’s the opposite of the last sin, sloth. That’s someone who is slow and dimwitted, lazy or indolent. Usually unable to hold a real job. Slothful folks do nothing significant but often live at the expense of others.”

“From the animal of the same name Big Guy. They’re so slow that algae grows in their fur during the rainy season.”

“That’s all of them Pavo, the seven deadly sins. Did you come up with any ideas?

“Yes. But it might just confuse you by taking you in a different direction. And it’s all because you left some pages from a philosophy book on the bottom of my cage last week”

Pavo, you mean to tell me that you’re now a new age philosopher because of something I left on the bottom of your cage?”

“Not me BG. It’s the philosophy of that guy in white robes. I think his name is Gandhi or something like that.

“I know about Gandhi. What set of sins was he talking about Pavo? Are his different?”

“Seven social sins BG. I think they might be right up your alley. I’ve committed them to memory.”

“And they are . . . ?”.

“Politics without principle, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice. Do you think you can handle those, BG?”

“I’ll get on it right away Pavo.”

Posted in My Pal Pavo | 1 Comment


“What does pundit mean Big Guy?” asked my pal Pavo, while peering at the sheet of newspaper lining the floor of his cage.

“It means someone made a play on words, mes amigo. A kind of joke.”

“No, not punned it. I mean a pundit, – a person.”

“A pundit is a person of great learning. Why do you ask?”

“Are you sure? The papers and the TV screen seem to be full of folks referring to one another as pundits and they don’t sound so bright to me. Where did they come from?”

In the opposite corner of the room, talking heads bopped across the TV screen, carefully coiffed jumping jacks doling out the day’s disasters. A quick stab at the remote dispatched their deadening dialogue.

“You’re referring to neo-pundits, my friend,” I began. “Out-of-office politicians or slipping and sliding news broadcasters and their toadies . . .”

“Anurans?” he broke in, cocking his head in puzzlement.

“. . . and also-rans.” I said, resuming control.

“Then, contrary to your scholarly definition Big Guy, it takes no special talent to become a pundit,” said Pavo, pausing to preen his plumage.

“If you’re a certified loser, it’s guaranteed,” I added.

“If you lose, you win? I don’t understand. When did this reversal of reality come about?”

“Been building for years but emerged with gusto back in ’92 when big business protectionists got replaced by big spending liberals in the congress. Losers became pundits and got more attention than the winners. Then, a couple years ago, a new form of punditry burst onto the scene and reached full fever pitch with the appearance of Caribou Barbie from tundra country. But she was a quitter rather than a reject.

He fluffed his feathers. “Could I become a pundit?”

“You could, but it’s more helpful if you’ve been voted out of office. You become an instant expert on all those things you couldn’t handle while you were in.”

“But if you’ve lost an election, doesn’t that mean the folks back in the boonies don’t want you representing them any more.”

“Not how the game is played nowadays Pavo. If you have a war chest, you continue to represent your constituents.”

Pavo cocked his head in amazement. “The same ones who voted you out of office?”

“Naw. The ones who filled your war chest.”

“War chest? That sounds scary. Guns and bombs and all that stuff.”

“Not ammunition. A war chest is money. Lots of it.”

Pavo snagged some sesame seeds. “Sounds like a pretty good deal to me,” he mumbled. “How would I get started?”

“Best way is to run for office. But it also helps to have charisma.”

“Do I have charisma?” he asked, as he spit out the husks.

“Nope. Sorry. You’re too short. You’re too scrawny. Nose is too big and your eyes are too close together. Your dress is too conservative and the color never changes. Your voice has a West Coast warble. Most middle Americans can’t identify with you. You’d make a lousy populist.”

“What about money. Suppose I had hoards of it?

“That would attract the other kind of hordes. And it would immediately change the equation.”

“Would it matter how I got it?”

“Nope. But the more moolah the merrier.”

“Looks like I couldn’t become a candidate. I have neither.”

“But your friend Phydeaux, he may not have money but he has plenty of charisma.”

“Phydeaux? The puckish poodle?”

“He has all the attributes. Look at him over there dozing in front of my footrest. Handsome. Loveable. Name recognition in multiple languages. Kisses babies. Nuzzles women. Licks men’s hands. Hollow bark, no bite. Toss him a bone or a bit of pork and he’ll do your bidding for life. The ideal candidate.”

“Would he be interested?”

“A little vanity helps and he’s always eager to please. Watch his tail when I tell him to sit or stay.”

“But how would that affect me? What does Phydeaux’s’s charm and charisma have to do with me becoming a pundit?”

“Take advantage of your long standing relationship and become his official mouthpiece.”

“How does that work?”

“The media are desperate for flacks and you may not even need charisma. In fact, being obnoxious is an asset. But you have to be quotable. The more outrageous and off center, the better. Soon, you become more valuable than your boss. You begin to make policy and anything you say becomes news. And, the beauty of it is that once your reputation is established, especially after retirement, you’re kissingered for life?”

“Kissing what?”

“You become a ‘go to for quotes’ guy. You get to comment on events taking place anywhere in the world. In fact, the media will find you even if you’re in Timbuktu. No matter what happened to your ex boss, you ride the eternal gravy train. You’re fixed forever.”

Pavo grimaced and his eyes crossed. “Ooof! Fixed? Like Phallix the cat?”

“Not that kind of fixed. Financially fixed. But, on second thought, maybe that’s not such a bad idea. Could prevent the sort of problems that too many pols seem to be addicted to these days.”

Pavo popped down from his perch and paced through the speckles on the floor of his cage. Head down, wings folded behind his back, he strode with determination from his water dish on one end to the seed cup on the other, back and forth, back and forth. Finally, he hitched himself up onto his roost. I could see he was deeply troubled.

“I’ve thought it over Big Guy. I’ve decided punditry isn’t for me. My mother was a moral bird and instilled a sense of fairness and ethics in me. I’d have to lower my standards to enter the arena. I think I’ll pass on the idea.”

I knew Pavo would be too honest and principled for the job. With our conversation over I reached for my TV remote. A second later the neo-pundits were back filling the TV screen.

Posted in My Pal Pavo | 1 Comment


Yesterday, as I walked up to his cage to refill his seed cup, Pavo hopped onto his perch, leaned closer to the side as I approached and cleared his throat to get my attention. “I have a new question for you Big Guy. It comes from your blog.”

Pavo’s the main subject of my blog and he’s quick to correct me if I put any of his activities in a bad light. “Okay.” I said. “What’s wrong this time, budgie buddy?”

“I was peeking over your shoulder the other day while you were scrolling through your messages and I noticed a comment from a lady who said that if Viagra was more readily available in Texas, there might be less need for guns and stuff. I have no experience with Viagra so maybe you can tell me about its appeal.”

“It’s a hard subject to explain Pavo but even though I’ve never tried it, I’ll give it a shot.”

“Fire away Big Guy. I’m always ready to learn about whatever stirs your juices.”

“There are two survival processes in humans that are in conflict, (1.) the need to procreate as a species and (2.) the process of aging in individuals. And they influence the sexes differently.”

“And that creates an uncivil war?”

“No. But it offers an opportunity for someone to make mucho money.”

“How does that work?”

“As you know from watching TV ads, some products make bundles of money for their makers, everything from cars to clothes to medicines. And it’s medicine makers that cash in on this one.”

“Viagra cures an illness?”

“Not an illness Pavo, a condition. It’s known as E.D.”

“If I get E.D. can I get cured with Viagra?”

“Let me put it this way Pavo. How do you feel when a beautiful young female comes near you? You have a wild urge to get together with her and make little parakeets, correct? Technically, that’s called ‘procreation’ or less technically ‘mating’. It’s also known as making babies.”

“I know what you’re saying B.G. We had this conversation a few months ago and I nixed the idea because you wanted me to do it in public with a minimum of four females.”

“But Viagra’s Little Blue Pill could make a difference Pavo. Put some hair on your chest and a spring in your step, – figuratively, of course.”

“I saw a Viagra ad from one of your golfing magazine pages on the bottom of my cage B.G. and I’ve seen a couple TV commercials featuring macho men who use it. I can see why you don’t quite fit the mold and why you might not be interested. But there’s a short story in micro-fine print that disappears before I get a chance to read it. Do you have any idea what that’s all about?”

“That’s a disclaimer.”

“A dish claimer?” The feathers above his eyes arched in amazement. “You get dishes with it?”

“Not a dish-claimer Pavo. A dis-claimer. Things that could go wrong. The advertiser is required to show possible side effects..”

“Now you’re you telling me that my sides might be affected? Does that mean sore ribs? That’s really weird.”

“Not your ribs, but it might muddle your eyesight. And that presents a paradox. Just when you want to see something get firmer, squinting may make it seem squishier.”

“But what about other mating medications. What about the stuff used in bathtubs? Doesn’t that do the same thing?”

“Cialis is mostly in play for those unexpected romantic moments.”

“And Viagra isn’t?”

“It’s a matter of nuance Pavo. Viagra has more appeal to REAL men and their needs while Cialis is better ‘when the time is right’ for romantic men. Wives in their ads obviously adore it.”

“And which type are you, macho or romantic?”

“Depends on my mood but I can go both ways Pavo. I’m ambisextrous.”

“But mating while in separate bathtubs looks pretty awkward though someone like Seymour, your goldfish who lives on your credenza, might be able to pull it off, flipping from one tub to another. But I still don’t understand what the bathtubs have to do with it.”

“Pay attention Pavo. TV commercials are aimed at a segment of the male population that may be near to or already in my age group. That means fuzzy vision, thin hair, crow’s feet, crinkled wrinkles and all sorts of anatomical sagging. Slumping below the edge of the tub should hide most of these conditions. And if you’re in the darkness and there’s no moon you might shave twenty years off your appearance.”

“By the way B.G., those tubs are always on the edge of a beach, on a mountain top or on a patio next to a pool. And what about the effect of soothing bath water? The tubs don’t seem to be connected to anything.”

“An astute observation Pavo. And if they are filled with water I’d guess that whoever put them there also carried all the buckets needed to fill them. After all that action, the guy who did it would be ready for a nap rather than the magic pill.”

“I have another concern.”

“What now?”

“I’ve noticed that these advertisements are aimed at men. Is there a similar product for women?”

“Let me put it this way Pavo. There’s no market for one. But there are other tried and true ways to get females in a romantic mood.”

“I bet that’s difficult.”

“Easier than you think Pavo. A bit of sweet talk, plus a bauble of jewelry, a box of bon bons or a bouquet of flowers will often be enough. But if your lady lover is given a choice among jewels, candy, flowers or the magic effect of some sort of Femin-ux pure pleasure pill, the pill will be their last choice. Women may believe in romantic magic but they won’t uncross their ankles until they’re really in the mood – naturally.”

“I’m afraid females are just too complicated for me B.G. and without a credit card I’d be an also-ran. So if there’s such a thing as celibacy for parakeets, I think I’d better look into it.”

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I could tell from his woeful eyes and drooping beak that my puny pal Pavo the parakeet was having another massive headache.

“You look like something the cat dragged in mes amigo,” I said jauntily, hoping perchance to cheer his churlish mood.

“Not a prime choice of words my mindful mentor,” said Pavo, squinting past his pain. “But this time it’s not Phallix the cat’s fault. It was that ear splitting racket and those nostril nipping smells last night. My head is hammering and my sinuses are stuffed.”

“I’m sorry about that budgie buddy, but I’m thinking about moving to Texas and I’m getting myself ready.”

“Texas? The land of battle grounds, cattle pens and rattlesnakes? Isn’t that dangerous?”

“Not if you’re prepared.”

“Prepared for what Big Guy?”

“For freedom. Nowhere is that better exemplified than in the land of Bowie, Houston and the Alamo.”

“What does that have to do with all the noise last night.”

“I was practicing packing.”

“Why don’t you just call a moving company. They’ll do it for you for a small fee. And quieter too.”

“You don’t understand wee one. I’m talking about packing, as in packing heat.”

“I’m out in the cold on that one Big Guy. Maybe you can warm it up.”

“I’m preparing for my new found freedom to walk the streets. You can’t do that around here safely.”

“What does wanting to be a Texas streetwalker have to do with all that noise and smell last night.”

“I was testing my new personal protection device, my Calico Liberty III.”

“A new cat? Who needs a new headache? We have one too many already.”

“An acronym for a new firearm my friend.”

“I’d guess from all the racket that it worked.”

“Better than expected. Of course the cellar wall has a few holes but that’s the least of my concerns. Now I feel safe.”

“Safe from what?”

“Career criminals.”

“You’re not talking about politicians again are you?”

“Not this time. But if a dangerous criminal enters my home or crosses my path, I’ll be ready. One shot or a hundred, I can dole out justice in seconds.”

“But isn’t it a crime to just shoot someone like that?”

“Not in Texas. The governor there is a believer in true equality and in the great Texas heritage. He likes the idea of the good old days of traditional 4-H Texas values, a holster on every hip and a hand on every holster. Every campus will now be free of fear. Even kindergarteners will be free”

“Gee. I don’t know about all this macho stuff Big Guy. Suppose someone gets killed by mistake. That’ll just give the anti gun nuts something to crow about.”

“Fear not my feathered friend. We know that mistakes happen but it’s not the fault of the gun. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. If more victims understood firearms, there would be fewer victims.”

“A suspect syllogism Big Guy.”

“Perhaps. But always remember, if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. And, with everyone carrying heat, the outlaws will be outgunned and will think twice about using one.”

“I’m still not convinced BG. But suppose you happen to get caught in a cross fire and your gun is unloaded. What do you do?”

“Just find a good place to hide while you insert the clip. Fifty or a hundred. Then fire away.”

“But where do you get the right to do that?”

“Right there in the Bill of Rights,” I said, pointing to my well worn civics book on the shelf beyond his cage. “10th Ammendment gives the states the rights to cover anything not covered in the Constitution. And the 2nd Ammendment makes gun ownership the law of the land.”

“But I thought that was about forming a militia.”

“A misreading of the small print little one. I am one of the people and it says very clearly that no one can infringe on my right to bear arms.”

“I’m confused about your right to go sleeveless B.G. We avians have been cheated you know. It says nothing about the right to bare wings. It’s blatant discrimination.”

“Not b-a-r-e foolish fledgling, it’s b-e-a-r. It’s about the right to carry weapons.”

“But where did those Constitutional rights come from?”

“The framers of the Constitution were good, God-fearing Christians so the Constitution was founded on basic Christian principles.”

“So you’re telling me that the Constitution was founded under the hand of God, a Christian God.”

“That’s correct.”

“Ergo, the right to bear arms is God given BG. Is that what you just said?”

“That’s also correct.”

“Then that’s why birds are not included.”

“You lost me in your convoluted logic wee one.”

“Only man is founded in the image and likeness of God correct?”

“According to the good book.”

“Then if man is founded in the image and likeness of his Creator, and the right to bear arms is Constitutional and if the Constitution is founded on Christian principles, then God probably carries a gun true?”

“I’d never thought of it that way, but your logic does seem to follow.”

“And, most likely, it could be something like a Calico Liberty III.”

“How do you conclude that?”

“Think about it. UZI’s come from Jewish Israel and Kalashnikov’s come from atheist Russia and SKS’s come from soulless Communist China. Then logical theology would suggest that God’s gun of choice would be a good Christian model, a Merikan-made Calico perhaps.”

“It does seem to follow.”

“But how would we ever find out for sure Big Guy?”

“I’m afraid it will have to remain as one of life’s deeper mysteries little one. Unless, of course, you’re just dying to find out.”

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