I’m in Love with a Pigeon

I’ve always had this mild bird obsession. I guess it started when I was a kid and saved this baby bird that had fallen out of the nest–or so I thought. I believe I’ve mentioned that I grew up on a farm with a herd of cats. Well, as hungry as these cats usually were, you can imagine what they would do if a baby bird literally dropped out of the sky right in front of them. Fortunately, I saw it happen and snatched up this baby bird before Chubbette Checkers (named Chubby Checkers until I found out she was a girl) or Caesar (crazy cat whose tongue was permanently sticking out the side of its mouth) could pounce on it. I put the bird in a cage and waited for it to be big enough to fly away on its own. Which I guess, according to me, was approximately 4 hours. I’m sure you can guess the rest. My hands cupping that baby bird, gently tossing it into the air with a “Go free!” and a little tear of “they-grow-up-so-fast” pride. And that bird did fly free. For about 3 seconds. And then it fell to the ground and hopped under the car. Where it was promptly devoured by a cat.

After therapy (which consisted of my mom yelling, “Get over it already!” sometime during my third straight day of crying), I was able to love again. This time it was a parakeet. I can’t recall his name—I’m pretty sure I’ve blocked it out—but I know he was blue. And messy. And sometimes loud. But that didn’t make it any easier when I came home from school one day to find his cage knocked over and Mr. Thomas, one of our lovely cats, leaving the scene of the crime with a feather sticking out of his mouth. I think he even did a little kitty-burp. Incidentally, “Mr. Thomas” was also the name of our superintendent, which caused a little confusion when I called my mom at work, crying, “Mr. Thomas killed our bird!”

There were still more birds after that. Ross Perot, our dove who thought he was an eagle. Fluffy, the cockatiel my coworker rescued from her deck and I volunteered to take home “because it will be fun to have a bird.” (Fluffy, by the way, hates people.) All of the hawks my mom taught me to wave at along the side of the highway because “they always look so lonely.” The big vulture that perched ominously on top of my house one afternoon.

But none of them compare to Pigeon.

He’s sassy. He’s determined. He’s a bird who knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to beg, bargain, or pull a guilt trip to get it.

He has mood swings almost as drastic as mine—and he reserves the right to change his mind about anything at any time.

He likes hot dogs.

And he really wants to drive a bus. (C’mon, is that too much to ask?)

His latest request? He really REALLY wants a puppy. Bad.

Yes, I’m talking about Pigeon from Mo Willems‘ crazy-hilarious, wit-irific books. Tonight, as Husband and I spent our 13th anniversary running errands at Target with two of our three boys (I think that’s what Brad and Angelina did on their last anniversary too), Husband held up a copy of Willems’ latest book, Pigeon Wants a Puppy, and my heart nearly stopped. I don’t know who was more excited, the kids or Brian and me. “Can we get it? Pleeeease?” I asked, batting my eyelashes. Husband gave the okay, and I did a Tiger Woods fist pump in my head.

We opened the book tonight like it was the Dead Sea Scrolls or something. “Careful, CAREFUL, boys! Don’t crease the spine!!!” Boy #2 read it aloud. And we laughed and laughed and laughed until we were on the verge of tears.

Seriously, what does this say about me? I just love that damn pigeon! He completely cracks me up more than I think any not-fictional-character, or human even, does! I dream about wearing Pigeon pajamas to bed snuggling with my Pigeon plush doll (Pigeon wants to stay up late, too, by the way). When people ask me, “What kind of books do you like to read?” my thoughts don’t immediately go to John Irving or Alice Walker like any other good English major. Nope. Instead, I see Pigeon with that wild look in his eyes, yelling, “I’M NOT TIRED!!!!!!!”

So much for the pretense. I’m not going to hide it anymore. I’m in love with a Pigeon.

It is what it is.

6 thoughts on “I’m in Love with a Pigeon”

  1. Oh My Gosh!! I can’t wait to read Pigeon Wants a Puppy.
    When the littlest grandkids are here I try to persuade them to “let” grandma read the board book The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too.
    My first intro to the Pigeon was at daughter #2’s house….her girls did a dramatic reading of The Pigeon Wants a Hotdog. (One was the Pigeon and one was the duck.) Well, I was hooked.
    As an unbiased observer, what can I say, Paula, you continue to have excellent taste.
    PS You even gave me a book this Christmas entitled Pigeons, The Fascinating Saga of the World’s Most Revered and Reviled Bird…an excellent read also 🙂
    (

  2. Your parakeet’s name was Spike. He was mean, by the way. A nose biter. I didn’t know he died by way of Mr. Thomas, the cat. I know Mr. T. killed my bird, Chirpy II (the yellow one, not the blue one who died the day after I got him). Did that damn cat kill Spike as well? I don’t really recall when Spike bit the dust, probably because my memories are clouded by the traumatic demises of my own personal pets. I feel like I have a memory of just walking into the room and seeing Spike on the bottom of his cage, dead stiff with feet up in the air. But that may have actually been one of our other ‘keets. I CLEARLY remember the baby bird flying under the car and immediately being taken by the cat, though. Must’ve been traumatic for us both. Or, shall we say it made us tougher? Since right now we have a house finch nest under our deck with eggs in it, do you think this would be a good time to bring a cat into our home to introduce my girls to “real life”?

  3. Wait! We don’t need a cat! We have a dog! Remember how last fall she ate a baby bird right in front of your #3? And then about five minutes later she puked it up in the yard and I had to clean it up? I guess the legacy of bird death trauma continues…

  4. Okay, I promise this is my LAST comment, I just remembered something…the “clencher”. It wasn’t just ANY day when my dog ate the bird baby in front of #3, it was #3’s BIRTHDAY! Nothing says, “Happy Freakin’ 3rd Birthday!” like watching the violent death of one of God’s creatures! I’m pretty sure I started singing, “Turn, Turn, Turn” to him or something!

  5. I love that pidgeon, too! But since I am a cheap skate, I just let my kids read them at other people’s houses. They are never the $.98 feature in the book orders, darn it!! My bird, Ross Perot, lived for 100 years, way longer than my attention span. Even though she is a bird lover, I am sure mom also did a small Tiger Woods fist pump in her head when he finally died because she had been feeding and cleaning up his feathers and poo for years (as I, apparently, had more important pre-teen things to attend to).

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