And they say cell phones are a distraction.
I figure collecting this story by way of a collision would have upped the dramatic value, but it was not to be. The vision of parrot in driver’s seat was enhanced by the fact that the parrot-toting driver didn’t need to be holding the bird while navigating her vehicle, for beside her sat an able-bodied passenger who could have cared for the parrot or at least driven the car. So, of course, I questioned the decision to drive while holding a bird, but I also questioned this motoring couple’s choice of driving with their top down, which not only seemed risky but also a taunting gesture to the parrot as if saying, “Feel the breeze through your feathers? See the open sky above you? Isn’t it beautiful? Sorry, you’re relegated to my captive arms. This is all just a tease.”
Maybe parrots love living in the confines of human life. Maybe a ride in the car is the equivalent of taking a dog on a walk. You see, I don’t know much about parrots, but I do know you can’t give full attention to driving while holding a bird. Think of ‘wing flap.’
I have heard that parrots live an extraordinarily long life – up to eighty years – so an owner must be prepared to will the pet to a future owner, for the bird is nearly certain to outlive the human caregiver. Now that is commitment. I’m worried about finding someone to watch my dog if I want to go out of town for the weekend. Finding a friend you can bank on outliving you who is parrot friendly and interested in a hand-me-down pet? Phew. Talk about stress.
The parrot-driver and I parted ways three blocks from my home as I watched in concern/amusement while the driver successfully achieved a one-handed right turn onto a street that dead ends into beach parking. I suspect that means that the parrot got to go for a walk, which is a nice gesture on the part of the pet owners. Hopefully they headed south on the boardwalk, for then they were likely to encounter a long time Venice regular, a guy who totes around his own parrot of the royal blue variety whenever he goes out for a bike ride (another brave undertaking). Bike rider and parrot park at a local restaurant, and then dine al fresco, the human ordering off the menu while the parrot enjoys carted-in sunflower seeds and then spews shells everywhere creating impromptu art upon the gravely boardwalk.
The fact that this image no longer registers as odd to me shows that I’ve been living in Venice a long time. We collect these kind of visuals in my neighborhood, though I wonder how much longer that will last. Venice is changing under the escalating real estate values, and I don’t imagine many new colorful creatures moving into town. These days when I discard furniture to the alley for any taker, items actually sit there for up to a day. They used to vanish with the speed of a David Copperfield trick. Ah, the good old days when a donation trip to Good Will was a waste of gasoline. Nowadays I suspect my tabletop-size tree of clustered, fake red apples that create the canopy – supposedly quite valuable in its day (and received by me with an awkward smile upon completion of a film job) – would establish a rather secure spot in my alley.
I have to wonder if the days of traveling parrots, rollerskating guitarists, and python-carrying walkers will come to a close, and crazy Venice will only live on as a memory. I hope not, for a slice of history will die when that day comes. In order to preserve the insanity I’m even willing to (cautiously) accept some parrot drivers. And I do hope that the white and blue parrot got to have an encounter. That would be a true Venice Beach moment.
(if anyone is interested in my red apple tree, email me and we can arrange a hand off before it journeys to the alley...)