My father maybe finished elementary school. I’m not sure. But like many people of Irish descent, he liked his drop of Irish whiskey before the evening meal. I can’t offer whiskey on this blog, but I can retell one of his stories with the cautionary note that my father was fond of puns. Here it is.
A man takes a job in a new city. He is single and lives in a rented apartment not far from where he works. After a while the living alone starts grinding on him. One day after work he goes online and searches for pet stores thinking what he needs is some creature comfort.
Finding a store near where he lives, on the weekend he takes a walk, determined to see what are his options.
In the store the e owner introduces himself. He asks the man what type of pet he has in mind.
“I don’t know,” he answers. “But I live alone and some type of companionship would be nice.”
The owner thinks and then asks, “How about a dog?”
“No,” says the man, “It would be alone in the apartment all day, and I don’t want that.”
The owner counters with the suggestion of a cat, but the man is unequivocal about his hatred of cats.
For the next few minutes the owner recites a laundry list of potential pets, from hamsters to turtles, and goldfish to parrots. All are met with a definitive “Not interested.”
As he pleads, our man glances into a corner of the store where stands a birdcage covered with a dark cloth.
“What’s that,” he asks pointing to the cage.
The owner does a double take and a verbal shuffle. “Oh, that’s nothing, really. How about a parakeet?”
The man insists. Intuition says there is something to this.
“Look.” He says. “You show me what’s in that cage and, if I like it, I’ll buy it. I promise.”
The owner relents. They stand by the covered cage. “You can only have one look. I’ll lift the cloth, you look, and I cover it back up.” Our man agrees.
The covering is lifted and our man sees a feathered creature the like of which most people can’t even imagine. It is glorious. The bird and he exchange glances, and our man imagines the bird seems to increase in size.
“That’s it,” says the owner as he covers the gage.
‘What kind of bird is it? It’s beautiful, “says our man.
“Beautiful, yes,” says the owner, “but beauty has a price.”
Our man is confused, “See,” the owner continues, “It’s very, very rare because every time someone looks at it, it doubles in size.”
Our man is sold.
On the way back to his apartment he cannot contain himself, and he sneaks a couple of peeks and, sure as shootin’, the bird doubles in size.
As is well for a while. During the days, the bird is alone in its cage singing its soft sounds. But all is not perfect. Our man has to feed it, clean its cage, give it a chance to see daylight, and each occurrence results in the rare bird increasing in size.
In addition, the bird can speak. Sometimes it mimics the radio or television, but more and more it complains about its accommodations. It is becoming a very large and very unhappy bird, rare or not.
After six months, our man is not happy. The pet store has washed its hands and he has no option other that getting rid of the bird.
One weekend in the fall, he convinces a co-worked to help him dispose of a “problem.” They rent a large dump truck and one early morning mange to wrestle the covered cage into the truck as the bird demands to know where he’s being taken.
Two hours later they are fifty miles from town and back the dump truck up to the edge of an abandoned quarry.
They pull the tarp off the back of the truck. The bird walks over, peeks over the edge and into the cavernous quarry. Then he looks at the two men and says, “That’s a long way to tip a rarey.”