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Kehau is an African grey parrot I met at a small sandwich and smoothie shop

in LaHaina .  African greys are said to be one of the most intelligent of all parrots and are also capable of immense vocabularies of words picked up from humans.

 I have history with them .  I used live on the top floor of a house in Toronto. My landlord who occupied the rest of the house had an African grey that he’d adopted from a family who for whatever reason could no longer have him. I could hear him chatting away throughout the day and night in adult female, adult male and juvenile youngster’s voices.  Judging by the phrases and tone of each voice it was not a happy family and he was well rid of them. He was also quite the whistler. I was hanging out with my landlord one day and upon hearing him whistle imitated it. This prompted a judgmental look from the bird and he whistled again, this time a bit more intricately. I responded with a pretty accurate imitation of what he’d just done. Once again he sized me up ----took a good long pause--- then ripped into a cadenza of whistling virtuosity that was not going to be repeated by some dumbass human poser.  He trained his eyes on me and waited -  knowing  full well he’d just shut my sorry yap  but good.

So last week some 40 years later, there I was with Kehau He’d noticed my interest in him and had worked his way closer to me. He started whistling.  Not wishing to again be booted in the whistling nards by a parrot, I chose instead to talk to him using my best deep tones. “Hey –how’s it going -having a good day so far?” You’re sounding good.  Have you ever thought of saying something like “Ross is stupendous?”  I was basically talking like I would to a dog –being goofy-making friends.   Kehau apparently had other ideas.  Giving me the same judgmental look I had received years ago in Toronto  he paused  - and then responded loudly and clearly with words I shall forever fondly remember.

 “ Fuck you “ he said, and followed it with a little laugh. 

The owner of the shop came rushing out to apologize “ For 30 years he never said those words. Then there were some construction workers who used to have breakfast here. That’s when it started!”  Construction workers or no  - you haven’t quite lived until you’ve been sworn at by a foul mouthed parrot - especially one with truly excellent comic timing.   Life is good.

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