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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Wed, 26 Nov 97 15:36:44 -0800
Subject: Meyer's parrot
Forwarded-by: "Gary Jeleniewski"<email@example.com>
Meyer, a lonely widower, was walking home along Delancey Street one day
wishing something wonderful would change his life, when he passed a Pet
Store and heard a squawking voice shouting out in Yiddish, "Quawwwwk... us
machst du...yeah, du...outside, standing like a schlomazel...eh?" 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? Ir kent reddin Yiddish?" Meyer turned excitedly to the store
owner. "He speaks Yiddish?" "Vuh den? 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. Finally, they both went to sleep.
Next morning, Meyer began to put on his tfillin, all the while, saying
his prayers. The parrot demanded to know what he was doing, and when Meyer
explained, the parrot wanted to do it too. Meyer went out and hand-made a
miniature set of tfillin for the parrot. The parrot wanted to learn to
daven, so Meyer taught him how read Hebrew, and taught him every prayer in
the Siddur with the appropriate nussach for the daily services. Meyer spent
weeks and months, sitting and teaching the parrot, teaching him Torah,
Mishnah and Gemara. In time, Meyer came to love and count on the parrot as
a friend and a Jew.
On the morning of Rosh Hashanah, Meyer rose, got dressed and was about
to leave when the parrot demanded to go with him. Meyer explained that
Shul was not place for a bird but the parrot made a terrific argument and
was carried to Shul on Meyer's shoulder. Needless to say, they made quite
a sight when they arrived at the Shul, and Meyer was questioned by everyone,
including the Rabbi and Cantor, who refused to allow a bird into the
building on the High Holy Days. However, Meyer convinced them to let him in
this one time, swearing that the parrot could daven.
Wagers were made with Meyer. Thousands of dollars were bet (even money)
that the parrot could NOT daven, 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, "Daven!" Nothing. "Daven...feigelleh, please! You can
daven, so daven...come on, everybody's looking at you!" Nothing.
After Rosh Hashanah services were concluded, Meyer found that he owed
his Shul buddies and the Rabbi over four thousand dollars. He marched
home quite upset, saying nothing. Finally several blocks from the Shul,
the bird, happy as a lark, began to sing an old Yiddish song. Meyer stopped
and looked at him. "You miserable bird, you cost me over four thousand
dollars. Why? After I made your tfillin, taught you the morning prayers,
and taught you to read Hebrew and the Torah. And after you begged me to
bring you to Shul on Rosh Hashanah, why? Why did you do this to me?" "Don't
be a schlomiel," the parrot replied. "Think of the odds on Yom Kippur!"
© 1997 Peter Langston