A Parakeet for President?
At the bottom of our garden, a foot from a chain-link fence painted silver, 8 inches to the right of an old rosebush, under a fragment of rock, is all that could die of "Tweet," the blue parakeet belonging to my in-laws, who live on the bottom floor of the three-decker vinyl-sided house my wife and I own.
Tweet went into the ground Monday after succumbing to some small bird-ish tragedy in the office of the one local veterinarian whose vocation it is to treat small, cheerful lumps of bright blue feathers.
An unremarkable bird, Tweet lived for eight years and did not die young by the standards of her kind. She liked birdseed, water, playing with the brightly colored plastic toys affixed to her perch and "cheeping" at her reflection in the mirror. Had she been taller and more inclined to theft, she would have made a dandy congresswoman, although I think she would have disliked the travel required by the job.
But it's wrong to think of Tweet that way. In the years I knew her, she never betrayed any interest in politics, although I believe she watched television closely and may have caught some bits of the nation's ongoing, cannibalistic political debate. Whatever she saw or didn't see, she remained happy, which means she couldn't have seen much.
I don't think Tweet could have run successfully for public office, though simply being a birdbrain wouldn't have disqualified her.
For one thing, I don't believe she was born in the United States, and while the pet shop where she was purchased gave a sales receipt, it did not provide any kind of believable birth certificate. We paid cash for her, too, so no one could "follow the money."
When it comes to her military record, she logged fewer flight hours than George W. Bush.
She lived most of her life as a beneficiary of other people's disposable income, like Ronald Reagan, although some would say her total dependence on the largess of working people made her a natural Democrat. She lived alone, though, and had no children. She may have been incapable of supporting herself, but she was no one's "baby mama."
And who's to say she couldn't have supported herself? She didn't choose the cage.
Still, if it did nothing else good for her, the cage kept her pure. No slipping out for late-night liquor or flying down to Buenos Aires with a lover. We always knew where she was and what she was doing, and her morning cheeps of innocence were genuine.
The Turks used to keep the heirs of their sultans in a kind of cage, not only to protect them from assassination, but to keep them from plotting against the sultan himself. Americans might want to consider caging politicians, if not to avoid assassination, then to avoid scandal. If Bill Clinton had been locked in a cage between speeches, he might have stayed out of trouble.
I was unaware of any religious beliefs Tweet may have held. She often nodded her head rapidly while sitting on her perch, but she did not seem to bow always in the direction of Mecca, so I don't think she was any kind of Muslim, secret or otherwise. I think she thought of the people who brought her food and water as gods whose huge hands showered her with the bare necessities of life.
We buried her in a nondenominational way, with no priest, minister or rabbi in attendance. Actually, my wife buried Tweet, placing her small blue body in a baggie along with her mirror and a plastic bird we suction-cupped to the inside of her cage, for company. I could not attend. I had to work. That was just as well, since I may want to run for office someday and I don't want to have to deny that I once participated in a non-Christian, possibly pagan bird funeral. That won't fly in the red states.
Every Saturday, I used to go down to my in-laws' apartment, and I would sit on the sofa and Tweet's cage would be on the coffee table in front of me.
I would talk to my in-laws, and I would put the index finger of my right hand through the bars of Tweet's cage, and she would nip gently at my fingertip.
She never bit me hard. She never hurt me. She always knew when to let go.
In short, she would have made a bad candidate but a good incumbent.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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