BONGO MARIE IN THE BOX
by Sally Blanchard
I had a few embarrassing moments at my veterinarian’s office because of Bongo Marie and her clever comments and noises. Usually, when the technician or veterinarian came in the room, Bongo had a comment to make. Her favorite was, “OK what’s going on?” but she did exclaim to one vet tech, “You’re in a lot of trouble.” The people who worked with Dr. Harris always enjoyed Bongo’s visits because they never knew what she was going to say.
After a fairly minor earthquake, I took Bongo to the vet right after she threw herself off of her cage and crashed on the floor. She had a bruise on her face and I wanted to check it out. I was sitting quietly in the waiting room with Bongo in a cardboard box on my lap. The box fit her comfortably but was not roomy. I was in a hurry and couldn’t find her carrier and the box was handy so I threw a towel in the bottom, put her in and rushed off to see Dr. Harris. There were no other birds in the waiting room — only dog and cat people and they rarely understand what parrots are all about.
Bongo had learned some interesting sounds and words from the teenage boys who lived next door do much so, that they were banned from visiting her. Suddenly from inside the box rumbled the most embarrassing and quite authentic noises of flatulence. As the sounds continued and grew louder, the other people in the waiting room seemed to become restless. I felt an obligation to explain apologetically that it was a bird in the cardboard box making the noises. Would they understand? “Yeah, sure it’s the bird in the box, ha ha ha.” Certainly, anyone who had a dog would believe that animals experienced flatulence but it wasn’t quite the same thing with a bird? As I began to fidget, it even appeared to me that the dog next to me was looking away as if to deny responsibility to his owner, “Honest, it wasn’t me this time!” While I was figuring out some clever apology to make, I was temporarily reprieved from my face turning redder when the technician called my name to go into the examining room. However, much to my mortification, Bongo had saved her best and loudest rendition for the moment that I stood up.
After the vet pronounced her bruise to be superficial, I went to the counter to pay. Bongo was in the box again and I placed it on the counter while I paid. Instead of making the sounds of flatulence, she yowled like a Siamese cat in heat or about to get into a fight. Again there were no bird people in the waiting room. The box was fairly small and a woman who was waiting with her cat asked me incredulously, “Do you have a cat in that box?” It was definitely too small and the wrong shape to hold a cat ... especially a yowling Siamese. I explained that it was an African grey parrot and the woman was shocked that Bongo’s cat rendition was so authentic.