Wed | Dec 6, 2023

‘Chirp’ on my shoulder, pecking on world affairs

Published:Monday | August 8, 2022 | 12:06 AM


I have ‘chirp’ on my shoulder who goes by the name of Chico. He’s bright green, except for red wing patches; adopted by my wife Susan and me when he was just six weeks old, after being hatched by breeding pair Mork and Mindy 21 years ago. Since my wife passed away, Chico is my constant companion, spending a great deal of time on my right shoulder, looking at the television and computer screens, while doing his mandatory preening. Occasionally, he’ll give a friendly peck to my earlobe or nose to wake me up should I doze off during the news, or whatever. These pecks are exceedingly gentle, realising that his incredibly strong beak can crack a cherry pit or reduce a button to so much dust.

Chico has the lungs of an elephant despite being the smallest of his macaw species, with absolutely no fear in expressing himself. For example, when he saw Nancy Pelosi visiting Taiwan, he immediately figured she was unnecessarily stirring the pot, and opined that she may be soon be an ingredient in a bowl of Peking duck. I reminded him that being an octogenarian and no spring chicken, Nancy may have a lot of gristle which is hard to digest.

Chico proved that he’s quite well-read, by responding that Charles Dickens put gristle in Ebenezer Scrooge’s mouth, too. Next in the firing line was US President Biden – who Chico insists on calling ‘Holy Joey’ – announcing that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed by a drone attack in Kabul. Chico suggested that Holy Joey looked and sounded just like the Godfather in the movies. Reminding him that Marlon Brando had cotton balls stuffed in his cheeks to produce the voice for that iconic role, Chico suggested that Holy Joey had his head stuffed in another orifice. That cheeky observation is best left to your reader’s imagination.

Then came the coup de grâce when he saw the Canadian prime minister (PM) meeting the Pope. Chico looked at Justin Trudeau’s recently shorn head, devoid of the trademark flowing locks, and declared that the PM has groomed himself to look like Alfred E. Neuman, the persona he’s sounded and behaved like for so many years. My life is often lonely, but never dull with this chirp on my shoulder.


Parksville, BC