Friday, November 9, 2007

My "Harvey Complex"

Have you ever seen the old black-and-white movie, "Harvey," starring Jimmy Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd? Elwood's friend, Harvey, a 6 foot three-and-a-half inch white rabbit, was visible to Elwood; but, except on rare occasions, invisible to everyone else.

Of course, the plot of the movie revolves around Elwood's assertion that Harvey is real, and the reactions of Elwood's friends and relatives to this claim. More than once, in the movie, Elwood is confined to an insane asylum, but even this does not weaken his conviction that Harvey is real.

Now, what does this fanciful movie have to do with my life, you may be wondering. Well, the truth is that I've been feeling just a little bit like Elwood lately.

I've told you about Quint, our grandbird. I'm home alone with him most afternoons, which seems to be the time of day when he is most "verbal." He sings and chirps and warbles almost non-stop. Of course, it's a known fact that parakeets can talk, and, during his afternoon vocal exercises, I have heard Quint say two different things, clearly and repeatedly. But neither Dan nor Tim has ever heard him, and their scoffing is giving me a "Harvey complex."

Tim talks to Quint a lot. He has taught him to chirp once whenever Tim gives the command, "Chirp." And he's taught him "up," "down," and "come." Every time the bird follows a given command, Tim rewards him with the words, "Good boy!" Repetition is a good teacher, they say, and the two things Quint has said, in my presence only, are "Chirp" and "Good boy." When I say he says, "Chirp," I don't mean he just does his little birdy-chirp. He actually says the word "chirp." And usually, immediately afterward, he says, "Good boy."

Like Elwood, a little derision won't dissuade me of what I've heard. But do you suppose I should be watching out for the men in white coats?

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