I have never really understood the attraction of keeping birds as pets. Ok! I will admit that they are pretty to look at and there seems to be a certain weird attraction associated with peering through a cage at a grounded parakeet. It is almost like we are saying to the poor creature, "Look where you are and look where I am!! I can go wherever I want and you are stuck without so much as a wing flap to keep you happy!" Bird people seem intent on creating their own home zoos!! And we wonder why birds don't like to be cuddled like a dog or cat!! In my opinion, birds are meant to fly, (unless they are penguins or turkeys!) and keeping them in a cage defies the basic laws of nature. So, it was with some mild trepidation that I attended my weekly choir rehearsal last evening. Allow me some elucidation.
Our synagogue choir is deep into the throes of High Holiday rehearsals. We are a small organization, and thus we do not have access to our rental space during the dog days of summer. In past years we have rehearsed in members homes, but over the last couple of summers, we have been welcomed at a local senior residence. It is a win/win proposition. The residence provides us with a wonderful room in which to rehearse and in return, we offer some entertainment to the residents. Over the past three years, we have befriended a group of seniors who regularly join us for our rehearsals. They get to hear many advance performances of Kol Nidre and we get to practice free of charge. It has even spilled over into other programs within the shul, in that we now hold our Shabbat morning summer services at the residence as well, and a strong core of regulars have been melded into our synagogue community. All was right with the arrangement until this year. You see, this year the senior's building has procured some new communal mascots--three parakeets! One blue, one green and one white. They reside in two separate cages in the common room in which we rehearse. Why two cages? Well, it seems as though the little green guy is a mean motherf$#@$r, and doesn't play well with his peers. Apparently he attacks first and bites later!! I assume that these little friends have been well-received by the residents and they seem to have found a permanent home. The problem for us, is that they are noisy little bastards. You see, parakeets sing! It seems to be what they do. They sing ALL THE TIME! They don't shut up. It is a constant din and when one starts, the others seem to chime in even louder. As background white noise it isn't an issue, but when you are trying to master the harmonies of Rossi, Lewandowski and Friedman it can get a bit irritating. Like fingernails on a chalkboard irritating. Worse still, the louder we sing, the louder they sing. They seem particularly partial to the deeper and more resonant alto parts, which by coincidence is what I sing!! And, they have a terrible intonation problem!! If they would only sing on key, I might be more forgiving. Our accompanist, who is inflicted with perfect pitch is ready to pull out his hair. By the time that I started attending the rehearsals, the choir had already come to terms with the feathery little shits. I am not nearly as tolerant. I literally could not concentrate on my work. One of the members suggested that if we cover their cages, we might be able to fool them into thinking that it was bed time and they would go to sleep. HA!! There is no deceiving these descendants of Satan. They simply sang louder until we were forced to acquiesce to their will. Last evening, our cellist joined us for rehearsal and as he began his introduction to Avinu Malkeinu, the trio chimed in--perfectly dissonant!!! It was so bad, I missed my first note. I am now hearing these buggers in my sleep. What to do? They live there, we are just visiting. I am starting to craft elaborate bird muzzles in my dreams. Tiny little Hannibal Lechter-like gizmos that will silence the caged wonders. If any of you bird-lovers out there has a more humane solution, I am ready, willing and able! I wonder what parakeet tastes like. Chicken, anyone?