For the month of February, each writer’s post will begin with the same line, which we’ve borrowed from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.
All this happened, more or less. I was ten years old and wanted a bird. I researched cockatiels, discovered they lived to be fifteen, twenty, twenty-five years old, and thought it was super cool. Fourteen years later, I post a joke on social media about celebrating New Year’s Eve with my bird as my significant other, and now … that’s how people know me.
The crazy bird lady.
One of my friends, who has a munchkin cat (a normal-sized cat with shorter-than-normal legs) named Moose, notes the discrimination against those who have pets that aren’t dogs: “If you post pictures of your dog all the time, it’s cool. But you post one photo of a cat or a bird, and you’re crazy.”
To be fair: I am kind of a crazy bird lady.
I like birds, it’s true. Particularly pigeons. I just think they’re adorable with the way their little heads bob when they walk. And while it’s yet to be determined if I’ll grow old and become that lady who takes trips solely because “I hear there’s good bird watching there,” people do post a lot of bird videos and memes on my Facebook page.
Also, I’d be lying if I said I never had that moment when my bird bit me because he’s upset with me for some reason that I just can’t figure out, and I looked at him and wondered: Since when have I been in a relationship with you?
From the beginning.
I have a significant other. His name is JJ, and he’s a bird.
At this point, he’s the most successful relationship of my life. Discrepancies aside, here are five ways having a pet bird is similar to that of a real relationship.
1. You work through the ruffled-feathered times.
When I picked out my bird at the pet store, the employee grabbed him and stuck him in a brown paper bag.
JJ was not pleased.
2. Communication is key.
When I spent a semester abroad in college and skyped with my parents, JJ heard my voice and went completely cray in his cage until my parents took him to the laptop to speak to me.
I must talk to JJ every day.
To be fair to myself and JJ: I think cats, dogs and other pets are equally as needy as my bird (cough golden retrievers cough). It’s just that, being a bird and slightly exotic, JJ gets a skewed rap.
3. You lose some arguments.
No. That’s a dog.
4. All you need is just a little respect.
JJ does not like to be touched.
5. Cheaters never prosper.
A few years ago, my cousin posted something on Facebook about a free pigeon to a good home. Remember: I love pigeons. That vagabond woman in Home Alone 2 hanging out in Central Park and covered in pigeons? Yeah. That’s the dream.
I wanted that pigeon.
But aside from worrying about proper pigeon nutrition and exercise, I was worried about how JJ would take the sudden appearance of another bird in my life.
I didn’t take the pigeon.
I very rarely think about the pigeon.
All this, and it’s true: I’m kind of, sort of, a crazy bird lady.
Cassie Westrate (’14) graduated with a double major in writing and international development studies. She currently lives in West Michigan, where she works as a writer, hangs out with her pet bird, and fights crime by night. Just kidding about the crime.