My first childhood pet was a cockatiel named Goldilocks. We called her Goldie for short.

She looked a lot like these ones – so pretty.

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Goldie was a hilarious bird. When we got her, the pet store told us she was a baby, and that she would be able to learn how to talk very easily. It would be years before we deduced that Goldie was probably much older than they had said. Whether that had an effect on her learning skills or not, she never did learn how to talk.

She sure squawked a lot, though.

It was more of a high-pitched chirp. A sharp sound. One that we as a family grew entirely desensitized to, but everyone else always noticed. I’d be on the phone with a friend and they’d say, “What IS that?!” It would take me ages and ages to pin point what they were referring to.

One of Goldie’s favourite things was paper. She loved to chew on it, make holes in it, shred it. When we were little, my brother and I would hand Goldie the corner of a piece of paper, for her to give us her “autograph.”

I’m sure she was very flattered.

Goldie also flew around our house. She had a cage that she spent the night in, but we also had a little bird playground set up for her on top of the bookshelf that was on the other side of our living room, so when we were home, she could go back and forth. She would fly laps around the living room before settling in one spot or another, and occasionally, she’d join either my dad or myself on the couch, perched on our shoulder, just hanging out. As she got older, she got more and more attached to me, and she would spend hours on my shoulder preening my hair for me.

She also ate dinner with us.

Yes, you read that correctly.

See, Goldie loved rice, among many of the other foods we ate, like lentils and beans. So when we ate dinner, we would put some food in a small plastic bowl for her, too. Goldie would fly into the kitchen, where we would offer her the bowl of food. Once she had climbed onto the side of the bowl, it would be placed on the kitchen counter so that she could pig out while we all ate around the kitchen table.

I loved that bird.

I also learned over time that most people do not love birds.

A great majority of people are scared of birds, as a matter of fact.

My brother and I would have friends over, only to have them FREAK OUT when Goldie started flying around the house. Goldie made even the toughest high school boys run squealing into the bathroom to cower behind a locked door. Meanwhile, my brother and I would just laaaaaugh and laaaaugh.

“Haven’t you seen the movie The Birds?!” our friends would ask, struggling to catch their breath.

“Yup,” we would nod, our faces deadpan.

To this day, I still occasionally hear friends mention that they are scared of birds.

So I guess growing up with Goldie means that I have some sort of special power. (Maybe that’s why peacocks love me.) Or at least, that’s what I’m gonna glean from the experience.

xA

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