South Dade News Leader: Doris D Meneses

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Doris D Meneses

Friday 06/16/2017
Going to the Birds
Walk in my Shoes by Doris Meneses

The slangy expression, “Low man on the totem pole,” meaning low in rank or the least important person, is thought to have been invented by the American comedian Fred Allen about 1940 and caught on despite its lack of application to a genuine totem pole.  The origin of the phrase 'never bites the hand that feeds you' isn't known. One of the first times it was seen in print was during the 18th century, when political writer Edmund Burke said “Having looked to government for bread, on the first scarcity they will turn and bite the hand that fed them.”  These two idioms represent me today.

I may have mentioned in the past that Mr. Wonderful has a pet Amazon Grey Parrot named Doc.  Years ago, we bird-sat my friend’s eclectus parrot while she was building a home and when the parrot went back home, we both missed it tremendously.  A friend had Doc and was looking for a new home so we were very grateful to take him.  Please note I say “him” however we are not quite certain if it is a him or a her.  We both love Doc but has bonded with Mr. Wonderful. 

First thing in the morning, “Good morning Papi” which I taught him.  I keep trying to teach him to say good morning to me but never will he say, “Good morning Sissy.”  I think he is being spiteful.  He mocks me when I laugh.  He doesn’t like me and would rather bite me than let me hold him while Mr. Wonderful can do anything.  Doc has a great vocabulary as well and barks like a dog, coughs and says a few bad words. Disclaimer – I did not teach him the bad words even though I would like to say a few when he bites me.

This past weekend, another couple offered us their female African Grey.  We had wanted to get another bird for a few years because we felt Doc needed company. The owners had the parrot sexed so we know she is a she. Her name is “2 T”. We call her Tootie as that was the nickname of my late Aunt Doris, for whom I was named. Aunt Tootie. It just seems fitting to call her that.

Tootie came home with us on Sunday. So far, each bird is in their own cage but they have begun to converse with each other by whistling and more. A few days ago, Mr. Wonderful held Doc and I held Tootie and so far, they did not go wild so I think we have a chance in eventually united them in one cage. Tootie is a big girl and although Doc is much older, she is bigger. I am so

happy that she let me hold her as Mr. Wonderful held her first and I figured she may not let me near. Score one for me!

Where do the above idioms fit into this picture?

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. That’s what I always tell Doc because whenever I go near him, he tries to nip me! I am the one who goes to the store and buys his food. I’m the one who feeds him when Mr. Wonderful is out of town. I’m the one who changes his water, gives him treats and buys him toys yet, he comes at me like a snapping turtle ready to grab his prey! Maybe my fingers look like sausages?

Low man on the totem pole. Well, I knew that Doc was important to Mr. Wonderful and now with two birds, I know that I am truly just that. Low man! First thing in the morning I get up and make our café con leche and sit on the patio with my breakfast. Mr. Wonderful comes out and I am not the first thing he pays attention to. Oh no. Now Doc and Tootie are his priorities! He greets them, “Good morning Doc. Good morning Tootie.” As he supplies them with a banana treat or apple. He then tickles their heads as they strain to reach him. “Doc want a peanut? Good girl Tootie.”

Finally, after this, he turns, heads to the patio table and finally says good morning to me. Yeah…low man on the totem pole!

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you! Well it is clear that Doc doesn’t understand that saying. I have to distract him to get his feed bowl out of the cage to refill it otherwise my hands must look like a bunch of Vienna sausages let out of the can for his feeding delight. Hopefully Tootie will not take after Doc in his rude manners.

We are both thrilled to have two birds now. They are entertaining and I swear, they know what they are saying and doing. We haven’t heard Tootie say any words yet but she whistles and makes an alarm sound so I think if she hangs around Doc for a while, her vocabulary is going to grow quickly.

We sit, we watch, we listen and we love the birds. The other day our daughter quoted another saying that may just fit the bill (or beak…pun intended). Upon finding out about Tootie she said, “Mom…you guys are going to the birds!” Perhaps so.

Posted in Opinion, Columnists, Doris d meneses on Friday, June 16, 2017 11:06 am. Comments (0)


Doris has been inviting readers to, "Walk in My Shoes," for several years. She shares with us her unique, "local" opinion, while raising a few eyebrows along the way. Walk with Doris and enjoy her love of the neighborhoods, events, community groups, and most of all, the people of South Dade.