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Pretty Bird

Recently I was reminded of a story which my mother swears is true (though she doesn’t call me Bobby much anymore):

Back in 1958, when I was just past four years old, my parents gave me a young parakeet. My mother determined that our parakeet would learn to talk, and to this end sat at the microphone of a borrowed tape recorder for a full 1/2 hour, saying over and over again: “Pretty bird! Pretty bird! Pretty bird! Pretty bird!….” and so on. The resulting taped message was played for our parakeet at least once per day. For weeks.

One of Mom’s friends often dropped by for an early morning cup of coffee, and was well aware (due to the incessant taped message) of her attempts to teach our bird to talk. And one day, while the friend was at the kitchen table, the bird began to speak, but very quietly and indistinctly. She excitedly called my mother into the room, and told her that the bird was trying to say something. The two women carefully leaned toward the parakeet’s cage, and heard him say, very clearly now – “Bobby! Stop that!”

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