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Twenty-seven years ago this month I met my future wife. We had each decided to take a break from our respective studies to head out and about with friends. Our paths converged at a tightly-packed watering hole at the edge of campus. She bought me a beer, and I figured any girl who would buy ME a beer would surely buy me several more. Ironically, this is perhaps the only way in which Kristin has failed to live up to my every dream. I'm still waiting on that second round. (Turns out, she figured that if she bought me ONE beer I would likely pick up the tab for the rest of her life! Well played, Kristin. Well played.)
Anyhow, as the weeks unfolded in the spring of '86, I began to see less and less of my roommates and more and more of "that girl." The boys began to sense this might be something bigger than that which had transpired with my scant other female acquaintances. Always ready to offer unsolicited advice on any life issue, my boarding house brothers scrutinized the situation. For the most part, Kristin won their hearts and minds handily, but for one surprising characteristic.
"Dude, are you saying that chick has a BIRD?"
"Uh, yeah," I mumbled. "I mean, well ... It's just a little bird. ..."
"Oh, dude! Chicks with birds are crazy. That's a widely known fact."
"Guys, seriously, it's just a little thing -- a parakeet," I began to squirm with self-denial. "Of course she calls it a budgie for some reason."
"No, no, no! See that's all part of the craziness! To the world it's just a stupid little parakeet, but to her it's probably a best friend and confidant. She probably tells it everything! Dude you're dating a crazy bird lady!"
"Well, she does say that Zachary talks to her and even dances along to the Rolling Stones when he's feeling it. Of course none of that ever happens when I'm around. She said he gets shy."
"Zachary? He gets 'shy'? Listen guy, that bird is silent because he HATES you! You're his love rival. He's probably plotting your death as he sits there all blinking and silent!"
"This is lunacy," I said. "You boys are just jealous because I found a girl who will actually buy me beer." (Obviously, I had been so smitten up to this point that I hadn't even taken into account the fact that, beyond that first beer, I had paid for absolutely everything from pizza to pancakes to the gasoline that would carry us on our first "real date:" Buzzard Day in Hinkley.)
"We're just looking out for your best interests, brother. If you're OK spending the rest of your life with a crazy bird lady -- and a crazy bird, because she'll have one all of her life, then that's your choice. If you can live with that then carry on, dude. Carry on."
History shows, of course, that I did carry on and it also has proven that my roommates were right in at least a few regards; but not necessarily the one where Kristin would have a bird "all of her life." Zachary died a few years after we were married. He had been with Kristin for more than half of her life up to that point. Heartbroken, Kristin never even mentioned getting another bird until our youngest daughter, Sylvia, having grown up with the legend of Zachary, talked us into another parakeet.
"Clive" arrived a few summers back and his existence up to this point has been considerably different than that of his predecessor. We'll take a little flight with him next week!