Monday, May 17, 2010

Memoir Monday: Mini Memoir of Scotty the Man Hater

For this week's Memoir Monday I am trying something different. I will be sharing a personal story, kind of like a mini memoir of my own. This is one of those stories our kids ask to hear every few years and it still makes me laugh. I hope you enjoy.

In the early years of our marriage my husband wanted to get a bird, not just any bird, he wanted a cockatiel or a parrot. He was convinced it would be easier to care for and more entertaining than a dog or cat. We looked into buying a baby cockatiel or parrot. They were very expensive. The idea was put on the back burner when we found out I was expecting our second child. A few months later I ran into a friend from school. She invited me and my son to her daughter's 1st birthday at her parent's home. Turns out her parents had a cockatiel and they were looking for a good home for it because they were moving to Florida and couldn't take it with them. They wanted very little money, as they were more concerned about the bird living out his last few years in a good home. Scotty was his name, and according to my friend's parents, he was already 12 years old.

Looking back I should have known something was up when they led me down a dark hallway to a large cage covered in a sheet. Beneath it you could hear strange grumbling sounds and hissing. The sheet was lifted only enough for me to be sure it was actually a bird in the cage and not a snake, or some horrible mutant animal. They were quick to explain that Scotty didn't like crowds. We would have to keep him covered when we had a lot of company or he would become too stressed. Ok, I thought, we could do that.

I left for home that day with a cockatiel, a beautiful big cage, and two separate raised platforms that looked like mini playgrounds. I was told how much he loved to be out of his cage, although they didn't dare remove the bread ties that held the cage doors shut.

My son and I arrive home to surprise my husband with Scotty. He happily helped make room for the huge cage in the living room and then we set up the bird playgrounds on opposite ends of the the first floor of our apartment. One by the front window and the other beside the sliding glass doors. Scotty loved the sit and look out the window, we were told. When everything was set up, and the last swinging bell hung, we untied the cage door to let Scotty out in his new home.

He didn't move. My husband reached in to help his bird out. Scotty squawked, bit his finger, and shrank back into the corner of the cage hissing. We assumed he was scared and left him alone for a while. My son, not yet 2 stayed at the cage. I was afraid the bird would bite, but it calmed right down. Before we knew it Scotty was making soft whistling sounds and saying, "Pretty Bird." My son was giggling, all was good.

A few days later we try again. I open the cage and this time Scotty hops right on my hand. My husband turns to say something from the kitchen, Scotty's feathers bunch up on the back of his neck like a cat ready to fight, he suddenly flies straight for my husband. He ducks, I scream, my son is giggling, and Scotty is flying around in a complete panic. With visions of Alfred Hitchcock's movie The Birds in my head I run to protect my son's eyes. Scotty takes another swoop at my husband, squawks, and crashes into the sliding glass door. He falls to the floor. The apartment is silent. I'm still holding my hands over my son's eyes and my husband and I can only look at each other in utter shock over what had just happened.

My son breaks us from our trance with a one word query, "birdie?" I give a look to my husband that sends him to investigate. He looks back at us and says, "he's moving." My son and I go closer as my husband bends down to pick up Scotty. The bird hops to his feet and starts hissing, angrily, and running at my husband in some crazy bird warrior pose.

We finally did get Scotty back into his cage and, after similar scenes played out over the next few months, we called the previous owners. They admitted that he had not actually been out of his cage for a long time. They also admitted that Scotty, the bird I got FOR my husband, might have some slight issues with men. The irony of this still makes me laugh. We were told to give him time, he would get used to my husband.

Over the years my husband was diligent with Scotty. He kept his cage clean, fed him, and changed his drinking and his bath water daily, but Scotty remained staunch with his dislike of him. He hissed and spit every time my husband got within a foot of the cage. And if my husband were so bold as to lie on the floor with me or my son to watch television, Scotty would open the cage, drop silently to the floor, and sneak up like a bird ninja to my husband's feet and snip at a toe. Or sometimes he would sneak up and just hiss at his feet, which I found hilarious because my husband would just about hit the ceiling every time. Imagine looking down as the feathery head dress pokes over the top of my husband's foot and beedy little accusing eyes stare at us.

It became clear that my friend's parents were less than honest on a few things. They never did move to Florida, Scotty never came around to like my husband, and he lived much longer than anyone ever expected. When we got him he was around 12 years old, he lived another 12 years. Also, there was nothing slight about his issues. He may have been suffering from a bird form of schizophrenia. Turns out cockatiels are very intellectual birds and can suffer from depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia.

Scotty is still missed by us all, even my husband. Thankfully, he kept his hatred focused only on him. My three boys, he would sing to and talk sweetly. He even learned how to say my oldest son's name. To my daughter and I, he was always a gentleman/bird. He would whistle when ever we walked by, the sexy whistle, and say' "Hello." To my husband, he remained a full blown man hater until the sad day his angry little claws pointed toward the sky.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing in our almost fond memories with Scotty.

Kristin : )


  1. Oh Kristin, I love this story! Poor Scotty, I wonder if they have medication for a schizophrenic bird.

  2. Hi Mary,
    Thanks for reading. There may be meds now for it, but Scotty was not suffering. He needed to be covered with a dark cloth at night or he would talk all night. He actually did very well during the day. He knew how to open his cage and would come and go as he pleased. We only had to lock it at night so he wouldn't come looking for my husband :)

  3. ROTFL! Poor Scotty! Your poor husband! You're actually fortunate that he didn't live longer as they sometimes do. I had a cockatiel and two big cats. I hung the cage from the ceiling with nothing close enough that the cats could get on to reach the cage. The birds do need a lot of socializing and to have their cages covered at night. When I was home, I'd open the cage for him, and Charlie would hop on my shoulder for the rest of the evening. The cats would sit at each end of the sofa, but they instinctively knew that they better not attack while the bird was anywhere on my body. He would walk all over me, including on my head, and Charlie LOVED to give kisses. Eventually I was working two jobs and just not home enough to give him the company he needed, so I took him to a bird refuge. I went back to see him a few times, and he was VERY happy. I never did get him to say "Here, kitty, kitty." I thought he might enjoy tormenting the cats while I was at work. ;-)

  4. Hi Dani,
    It's so nice to hear from you. Cockatiels are very social. We had to move Scotty away from the window because he would attract so many birds and a few neighborhood cats. We'd come home to find birds every where and even a few had flown down our chimney. The mailman asked if we had another baby because of the squeaky toy noises Scotty would make. Funny bird :) Thanks for sharing your memories of Charlie.