I walk into the pet store, looking for the perfect creature. I have an excess of time and money and love. These things combine to make me the ideal pet owner, or so I am told by multiple Internet surveys. I haven’t yet decided on the creature. A dog would be too dependent and besides, I prefer not to leave the house when it can be avoided. I stroll around the store, the odour emitting from countless cages of small rodents immediately deters me from further investigation of that section. I turn and see the magnificent being. Its small, intent eyes stare straight back into me from its cage. But who could dare cage such an animal? It yearns to be free. Its beautiful blue and yellow wings beg to stretch open and soar to the sky. It climbs up the cage to reach eye-height with me. I know that this is the only creature I would ever want. It gazes at me, opening and shutting its beak, in a sad, silent plea for release. In my home, it would be free to fly around, reach the ceiling, and return to the safety of my shoulder. I understand it.
I leave the store with my newfound companion and hurry home to release it. I anticipate its joy, as it once again is free to do what it was meant to. I shall be the person who allows it to return to itself.
Upon returning home I open the cage and watch breathlessly as the parrot extends its wings and glides about my apartment. I feel a pang of regret that my home is so small. How thrilling it would be to watch the parrot in a larger setting. I think about releasing it, but that would be wrong too. It is now dependent upon me for shelter and food. Already I love this bird. I name him Sam and set about teaching him his name.
This love I feel for Sam makes me cautious. I worry about him. He flies about too quickly. I can see already that he is too sure of himself, his spirit too free. There are windows in my apartment and the speed at which he flies could turn any one of them from a scenic view into a death trap. I fret for Sam. He wouldn’t know any better.
I determine that, in order to keep him out of his cage, I must clip his wings. For his own good. As it is, he has nearly flown onto the stove twice already.
Sam looks at me pitifully as I snip off portions of his handsome long feathers. As they drop to the table in front of him, he picks them up in turn with his beak, clicks, and puts them down again. I tell him not to worry, and that I am just protecting him, but I fear he hasn’t mastered that much English yet. But he is safe.
Sam hops and flutters about, he seems incapable of understanding why his wings won’t cooperate with the simple task he is demanding of them. Now he must climb everywhere, and so he does. It’s becoming almost worrisome. He climbs up furniture, curtains, even the red brick wall, to heights from which he would have at one time flown. He tilts his head every which way, clicks to himself, ruffles his feathers. I fear soon he will make another attempt at flight. But with clipped wings, the results would be disastrous. I accomplish nothing. My time is spent sitting and waiting for impending doom.
I return to the pet store to purchase a proper cage for Sam. It must be large enough to allow him to climb about and do everything his free-spirited self desires. I find one of suitable size and also grab some trinkets to hang in it, to prevent him from becoming bored. Sam will be happy in this cage. It is safe and secure, and he can hop from one level to the next without fear of death.
I return home with the cage and toys. I lovingly set everything up and bring Sam over to examine his new home. Though it has significantly less roaming space, he seems resigned to it. He hops about, half-heartedly poking at his reflection in his little mirror. I am finally able to focus on my own work.
Sam seems depressed. He has stopped speaking and now moves about dejectedly. He is even pulling out some of his feathers. I tell him he is being silly, and that in his cage it doesn’t matter if he has full wings because he is safe. Such a beautiful creature. I warn him that if he keeps up this feather-pulling business his plumage will suffer for it. He doesn’t seem to care.