Monday, March 09, 2009
BIRDS OF A FEATHER.......
So I have to take my daughter out to buy a birthday present for a party she's invited to on Sunday afternoon. Luckily she has decided right away that it's a Webkinz she wants to give (what is it with these things?). That's lucky for me cause now I don't have to fight the emerging spring break traffic and bounce between ten or so stores trying to decide what she wants to take as a gift. I would usually opt for something at the Dollar Store during these trying economical times, but social standings do happen in second grade, so the mock Barbie for a dollar is out of the question. So off to the mall we go fighting the "I just got out of church and have to make it to the Golden Corral buffet first" traffic instead.
On the way, I have to stop by Petland because our poor dwarf hamster, Nutmeg, has a terrible case of constipation. Her little tummy is so swollen that she looks as if she ate one strawberry to many. Which I am having to feed her since this is what the online vets recommend. See, we had to replace her wheel because the last one was made of that cheap plastic and it broke while wrangling the cage apart in order to clean it one day. Unbeknowing to us, she couldn't run on the new wire wheel because her little feet kept falling between the pieces of wire. Thus, Nutmeg gave up exercising on her wheel all together. Well, this has led to her very bad bout of constipation which has given me even more of a reality check on the importance of exercising. Poor little baby. So I have to find her a wheel that will accommodate her tiny paws before she completely blows up and I get busted for some kind of animal cruelty.
Upon arriving at Petland, I'm thinking some special party is going on because the place is PACKED. But it's not a party they're giving, they have just lifted the lids off of every animal cage/aquarium and it's a free-for-all pet handling soiree! The puppies are yipping, the birds are squawking, and every child there is running around with some sort of rodent in hand screaming "Mommie - buy him, buy him, buy him, pleeeezzzz!" My daughter Toni runs to join in the festivities, and she herself is soon running from cage to cage wanting to hold anything that any employee will be willing to lug out of it's secure confines. Thank God the snakes were clear out of sight!
I'm navigating myself toward the hamster gear while keeping a clear and careful watch on Toni. Luckily the perfect wheel is just staring me in the face with a perfect price, so I grab and head back to get Toni. Well, I wind up joining in all the hoop-la cause we all know it's kinda of fun to hold them wild critters. I head straight for the ferret while calling on Toni to follow me. I stick my hand in the glass enclosure and giggle as he tries to crawl up my arm and sniffs at my shirt cuff. Then, "CRUNCH", his freaking incisors (or whatever they have in that mouth of theirs), decide my wrist is a mid-day snack of sorts. I manage to jerk my hand out without causing a scene, and with a smile and grit of teeth, I lead Toni to a "kinder, gentler" cage of rodents.
Meanwhile, there is this barking going on behind me that is rather loud. I turn to see not a dog, but a big red macaw. She's quite fascinating because she has gathered quite a crowd around her as she is refusing to be removed from another customers shoulders. She's taken quite a liking to the fellow and is busy "barking" at a sales associate who is almost yanking the bird of his shoulders. People are busy clicking their phone camera's away hoping for a next great iReport photo-op.
Toni is still skirting from one animal enclosure to another when I finally convince her follow me to the puppies since she has been begging for one since she was three. So we have been having issues deciding on one for our family; these things take TIME! I'm almost dragging the child because she's currently fixated on guinea pigs and attempting to pull one out to hold them. But I manage to redirect her attention to a little Yorkie sitting quietly by himself in an upper cage. Getting her opinion on this thing is about as easy as pulling teeth since she is still whipping that head around to the harried activities behind us in the rodent and bird section. She now wants to hold a parakeet since she sees someone else with one. I finally give in and let her go while I try to make eye contact with a nearby sales associate to giet a price on the puppies now that I see that they are advertised as "on sale" for $200 off.
I'm a bit concerned because I now see signs on each puppy cubicle that offer "100% financing" for a puppy. What have we come to if we are now taking out loans to buy a dog! So I finally get the attention of a "puppy attendant" and ask her what the price of the puppies are.
"It depends on which puppy your interested in", she tells me
"Well, how much is the Yorkie in the upper cubicle", I ask while watching Toni flit back and forth from rabbit to parakeet now.
"The Yorkie was originally 25 - 99, but now he's 23 - 99", she says with that quintessential, retail perky look on her face.
"That DOG is freaking $2400!" I jolt back with my jaw, teeth, tongue, and eyes almost falling into my hamster wheel.
"Yes, he's on SAAAALLLLLLE", she says
I literally started laughing so hysterically loud and hard that the damn macaw started barking at me from across the floor. There stood three sales associates staring at me laughing my ass off, when Toni runs up and excitedly asks "What's so funny mom?"
"Toni, see that dog we were looking at? They want two thousand, four hundred dollars for that dog", I tell her, while still standing beside these three employees and laughing.
"Mom, I don't think we're getting THAT dog today", she intelligently replies.
I walk away while hearing the three employees whisper how they can't understand how I could laugh at such a "reasonable" price for a Yorkie. Excuse me, I can understand Paris "Everyone-knows-I-have-no-brains" Hilton paying that much for a dog, but an average Joe-Blow paying $2400 for a dog that's a little bit bigger than the hamster we have? Isn't that what it use to cost to adopt a HUMAN child at one time? And what about that 100% financing available for adopting the dog? What in hell do they do if you can't pay the money back? How does a place like Petland "repo" a dog? Do they send the repo towing van out to latch that puppy to the back and off goes your baby at $2400 plus 9.5% interest? America has truly lost it's mind!
Anyway, I wind up following Toni back over to the rodent/bird section when a display suddenly catches my eye. It is the absolutely coolest hamster cage I've ever seen. A "must have" if you have these furry little critters in your home; or something like them. It is the newly designed Habitrail Ovo Loft. This is just the coolest thing (didn't I just say that - okay, I'm being redundant here). I'm looking at all the neat little pieces that go with this thing, and how futuristic looking it is, and I'm thinking I'm just gonna have to impulse buy it the sucker. Then I'm feeling tugging at my back right shoulder. "What Toni", I respond thinking that she's wanting to lug me to another enclosure to drag out another critter to pet. More tugging ensues and I whip my head around to see what she wants and there - it - is!
Toni is not tugging on me, that damn macaw is pulling itself up onto my shoulder and by the time I've locked eyes on her, she's proudly sitting on my shoulder. I suddenly realize that Toni will get a HUGE kick out of this so I start calling her over. She by now is whizzing from one animal to another in absolute critter-frenzy that it takes her a few moments to get a fix on what is going on. By the time she does, this scarlet jester is climbing her way to the top of my head. Toni has noticed what's going on by now and is repeating "oh my gosh" so loud that I soon become the main attraction within a 30 foot radius of this circus of a store.
The bird is now perched on top of my hat and tugging at God knows what when one of the employees comes to my rescue. What I can't believe is how heavy this sucker is! She's tugging, I'm balancing, and the employee is trying to pull her off my head. Nothing is working until the employee tells me to try to lower myself to the cage and let her get off there. Well THAT doesn't work and it only starts this bird's constant barking in my ear. The employee finally manages to coax this red demon onto my shoulder where once again she is trying to pull it off and back toward the cage. More barking of resistance and more pulling. I'm deaf and my shirt is left with little dit-dits where her talons were firmly planted in my shoulder.
I reach up to feel where she was tugging and realize the little beast has pulled the button off the top of my Beatles cap. This is a prized baseball cap and I want that button back from that menacing little thief! So the employee attempts to get the button out of the mouth of the bird. This thing is having nothing to do with. She has the button and she ain't giving it up! This is a hard-to-find ball cap, and if I have to wrestle that bird to the ground to get my button back, well then bring-it-on!
The employee starts sticking some plastic rectangle thingy in this bird's mouth to get her to "drop" the button. But this is not working because that barking begins again. So I do the built-in motherly thing; I try to "reason" with the glorified rat with wings as if this damn bird is gonna understand one single thing I say to it!
"Give me the button baby", I sweetly plea as I cup my hand under her beak. She only grasps my hand with her left talon like she wants to play skip-to-my-loo across the store!
"Come on, GIVE me the button sweetie", I beg again, looking like a crazy woman trying to have a rational conversation with a BIRD!
Finally, "mean mommie" comes out - "Listen bird give me the freaking button and give it to me now because I'm a mom of four kids and their is nothing you can dish out that I can't take!" I sternly say to this oversized "parakeet"with an attitude while sternly staring her straight in the eyes. Low and behold, she drops the black fabric part of the button right into the palm of my hand.
Someone claps behind me and I'm fluffing my own feathers cause I'm feeling pretty damn smart that I just succeeded in asserting parental authority over a bird in an overpriced pet store! Never mind that the fabric and metal part of the button is quite a bit mangled, I won and that's the point.
The store employee comes back, with of all things, a stupid ball point pen. What is she gonna do, stab the bird's beak till it drops the other half of my button? She is somewhat impressed that I managed to get the first part of the button from this macaw, but she begins probing the birds mouth for the white part that attaches the button to my cap. As usual, Missy Macaw starts barking again. This "barking" is really beginning to get ON MY NERVES!
"Hush!", I tell her "Now give me the other button bird!" I bark back The employee is still going at it with the pen. Again I get the bird's eye contact. "DROP it!" I say so loudly that it actually turns more heads in my direction. I guess I'm really looking crazy by now because I've got things to do and only a limited time to do them, but I'm publicly arguing with a bird! But I must have really gotten through to Missy Mecaw because out popped the other half of button onto the floor below my feet.
This time a few more clapped. I didn't care, I just picked up the other half and compared it's condition to the first half. As I was standing back up, guess who decided to meet me half-way again. Yeah, Missy Macaw! Just as I was almost standing up, she took the opportune time to hop back onto my shoulder. What does she want, the WHOLE cap now?
I'm actually beginning to get attached to this bird; she's growing on me and sitting on me, and now she wants to "nibble" on my right ear. Toni thinks this is great because it's like her mom is putting on her own personal animal show and she keeps calling me "cool" and stuff like that. When the store employee starts hinting that the bird is really getting attached to me, that's my cue to leave because I hear a massive sales pitch coming. I have no time to be talked into buying this bird; as much as I like her right now, it's not on my list's of "must have's" at the moment. The present for the birthday party is. THE PRESENT - I have got to go! Husband can only last so long by himself with the other kids.
I lean down to encourage Missy Macaw to get back on her perch, and fortunately she cooperates. I make eye contact with her and thank her for giving me back my button. She looks at me then reaches out that left talon and takes my finger once again and gently squeezes it as if to say "your welcome". It is an awesome feeling to make that kind of connection with another animal. I can't even come up with any clever little metaphors or sayings for what that was like. When God hands you a moment like that, it is to be taken in as if one was handed all the answers in the universe - in complete awe.
I never asked how much the bird was because I didn't want to be disappointed at a price I couldn't pay, for a bird I got so attached to so quickly. I was still trying to get over the puppy for $2400, I did not need to pushed over the edge into a heart attack today. I save my health by forking over $22 for a wheel and a new leather collar for Remi and gently nudge Toni out of the store as she's looking back and waving bye bye to our new friend.
"You know what mom?" Toni looks up and asks me.
"This has been the best day ever - I LOVE you!" she exclaims
"We aim to please Toni!", I say while taking a last look at Missy Macaw and reaching up to feel the point on top of my cap where a button once laid. "We aimed to please."
Tales The Trenches of Parenting at 8:21 AM