The Fishbirds of Parental Manor Edition
Mama Shakes has two parakeets: Blue and Honey. Those aren’t actually them in the picture, but that’s pretty much what they look like. Wev.
Now I like birds—as evidenced by my fondness for Mr. Shakes’ budgie Harry—but I swear to the fates that Blue and Honey are the most useless squawk boxes in the history of featherdom. They’re totally unfriendly, even to Mama Shakes, who, in the past, has owned budgies so charming and personable they would take a seed right from between your teeth then kiss you before flitting away back to their cages. But don’t count on these two jerkbeaks doing a cute trick or being remotely affectionate; if even Mama Shakes reaches into the cage, they just shriek like insane banshees and run to the other side of the cage like she’s about to kill them.
Which, if I’m honest, is at least evidence of a personality. The rest of the time, the dire duo are so dreadfully boring that it’s like trying to engage the occupants of a fish tank. Hence, I’ve dubbed them the fishbirds.
“They’re not as boring as fish!” Mama Shakes protested, laughing hysterically.
“You’re right,” I said. “Quite possibly, they are more so.”
“Aww,” she said, casting a warm glance at her fishbirds. “Poor little things! You’re not fishbirds, are you?” They looked back at her with the glazed eyes of circling guppies.
“See?” I said. “Fishbirds.”
To put it gently, Papa Shakes is unimpressed with the fishbirds, and he would happily let them fly to their freedom, or serve them up on a cracker as a midafternoon snack, given half a chance. His eyes roll so unfailingly at any mention of the fishbirds, it as if some strange incantation has inextricably bonded his muscles of orbit to the word “bird.” I fear if he watched the Hitchcock film, he would blind himself. He constantly exhorts their cats to eat them, but the cats are having none of it—which only confirms Papa Shakes’ suspicion that the cats are useless, too.
Last night, after a huge dinner prepared by Mama Shakes, the four of us were getting ready to leave Parental Manor and head over to my aunt and uncle’s house to watch the fireworks. Mama Shakes was in the bathroom changing from her “grillin’ clothes” into something nicer when she remembered the fishbirds were out on the deck. She called, “Hey, Papa Shakes—will you bring the birds in?”
The Papa Shakes patented dramatic eye roll ensued as he got up from the couch. Without missing a beat, he said, “What are you going to do with them in there? You need ’em to test the gas levels?”
This, of course, was the trifecta for Papa Shakes. A play on words and a dig at the fishbirds, all rolled into a fart joke.
Mama Shakes, Mr. Shakes, and I all burst into laughter as Papa Shakes headed out to the deck to collect the fishbirds, an evil, proud little grin on his face.