Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998 13:16:31 -0400
From: "Alan Baragona (by way of Alan Baragona )"

Subject: The Parrot

A lovely little parable for you.



Meyer, a lonely widower, was walking home along Delancy Street one day
wishing something wonderful would happen into his life when he passed a Pet
Store and heard a squawking voice shouting out in Yiddish:

"Quawwwwk...vus macht du...yeah, you...outside, standing like a"

Meyer rubbed his eyes and ears. He couldn't believe it!. The proprietor
sprang out of the door and grabbed Meyer by the sleeve. "Come in here,
fella, and check out this parrot..."

Meyer stood in front of an African Grey that cocked his little head and
said: "Vus? Kenst reddin Yiddish?"

Meyer turned excitedly to the store owner. "He speaks Yiddish?"

"What did you expect? Chinese maybe?"

In a matter of moments, Meyer had placed five hundred dollars down on the
counter and carried the parrot in his cage away with him. All night he
talked with the parrot. In Yiddish. He told the parrot about his
father's adventures coming to America. About how beautiful his mother
was when she was a young bride. About his family. About his years of
working in the garment center. About Florida. The parrot listened and
commented. They shared some walnuts. The parrot told him of living in
the pet store, how he hated the weekends. They both went to sleep.

Next morning, Meyer began saying his prayers. The parrot demanded to know
what he was doing and when Meyer explained, the parrot wanted to pray too.
Meyer went out and hand-made a miniature yamulke [skullcap] for the
parrot. The parrot wanted to learn to read Hebrew so Meyer spent weeks
and months, sitting and teaching the parrot, teaching him Torah. In time,
Meyer came to love and count on the parrot as a friend and a Jew. He was
lonely no more.

One morning, on Rosh Hashonah, Meyer rose and got dressed and was about to
leave when the parrot demanded to go with him. Meyer explained that a
synagogue was not place for a bird but the parrot made a terrific
argument and was carried to the synagogue on Meyer's shoulder. Needless
to say, they made quite a spectacle, and Meyer was questioned by
everyone, including the Rabbi. At first, he refused to allow a bird into
the building on the High Holy Days but Meyer convinced him to let him in
this one time, swearing that parrot could pray. Wagers were made with
Meyer. Thousands of dollars were bet (even odds) that the parrot could NOT
pray, could not speak Yiddish or Hebrew, etc. All eyes were on the African
Grey during services. The parrot perched on Meyer's shoulder as one prayer
and song passed - Meyer heard not a peep from the bird. He began to become
annoyed, slapping at his shoulder and mumbling under his breath, "Pray

The parrot said nothing.

"Pray...parrot, you can pray, so pray...come on, everybody's looking at you!"

The parrot said nothing.

After Rosh Hashanah services were concluded, Meyer found that he owed his
synagogue buddies and the Rabbi over four thousand dollars. He marched
home, pissed off, saying nothing. Finally several blocks from the temple
the bird began to sing an old Yiddish song and was happy as a lark.
Meyer stopped and looked at him.

"You miserable bird, you cost me over four thousand dollars. Why? After
I taught you the morning prayers, and taught you to read Hebrew and the
Torah. And after you begged me to bring you to a synagogue on Rosh Hashona,
why? Why did you do this to me?"

"Don't be a schmuck," the parrot replied. "Think of the odds on Yom Kippur!"
Alan Baragona