There is this lady that lives across the street. We call her “the dog lady”, but she also has a parrot. The loud screechy kind that talks. Like, it says people words. All.day.long.
It calls her name “FARAH!...FARAH! FARAH! FARAH!” If it isn’t calling her name, it’s calling her dog’s name. If it isn’t calling her dog’s name, it’s honking like the horn on a bicycle. If it’s not honking like the horn on a bicycle, it is, I’m pretty sure, screaming in the throes of ecstasy. (Other’s have heard this as well, and that’s, like, the only thing it could be.) When it’s not faking an orgasm, it’s barking like a dog. And if it’s not barking like a dog, it’s announcing it’s presence to the world by shouting “PARROT! PARROT! PARROT!”. All. day. long.
It’s funny. And kind of annoying. But what are you gonna do, right?
So, we, the parrot and I, live in a little neighborhood that’s carved into the coffee fields at the base of the volcano, Barva. This little enclave is surrounded on three sides by coffee, so when it’s time to harvest (which happens to be right now) the workers walk through our neighborhood with their baskets to pick the coffee in these fields. They start around 5 when the sun comes up, and end whenever they end.
They walk back and forth past our houses to get from one field to another. If it’s not the coffee-pickers, it’s the construction workers who are building toward the end of the block, and if it’s not the construction workers, it’s the security guards. If not the security guards, then a group of soccer players, or two ladies pushing babies in strollers. There is always someone right outside, someone walking down the street between the parrot’s house and mine.
The only reason I know this is because the parrot talks to every single person that passes. And you know what? They talk back. It’s crazy. Grown men go nuts for this bird. It’s like this (except in spanish and in whacky parrot voices):
Person: Oh, a parrot!
Parrot: FARAH! FARAH!
Parrot: Hello! Hello! Parrot! PARROT! PARROT! HELLO PARROT!
Person: HELLO PARROT!
(then they both say “parrot” back and forth like 20 times)
Parrot: Honk. Honk.
Parrot: HONK HONK HONK!
Person: HONK HONK HONK!
Parrot: FARAH! PARROT!
Person: FARAH! PARROT!
(then the parrot offers it’s entire vocabulary plus a couple of yappy dog barks and the person repeats every bit of it back until the parrot fakes an orgasm and the person says to his friend “That’s what she said” and then they walk away.)
This is how it goes every time. I hear this interaction 10 times a day. Different people, same parrot. And every time, I want to shout out my window, “You’re parroting a parrot, Dumbass!” But, A), I don’t think that it would be very well received, B) that kind of behavior sort of flies in the face of the relational ministry we’ve got going on down here, and C) I do that very same thing all the time.
Ok, maybe I don’t stand there repeating that stupid, loud, obnoxious bird’s every word. But, I definitely take in certain things from certain people and immediately start repeating them. Which, in itself, is neither good nor bad. But the whole thing with the parrot choosing the words, or the sounds, or whatever, and the people standing there, repeating it - It got me to thinking about who I parrot and why.... and who parrots me and why. Tell me that’s not a scary thought!
By the way, while I was writing this, we had a small earthquake, which happens all the time here but this time I kept thinking “Haiti. Haiti. Haiti. Haiti. Haiti.” And now I just feel kind of... sad.... for Haiti....