So when I flipped on the TV last night to watch Earth vs Flying Saucers again, George Burns faded into a parakeet. A mechanical parakeet. Name of Polly. Polly turns its head and chirps. That was about it, head turn, chirp, head turn, chirp. It really sent the people in the commercial. The old lady cooed, the kids were wowed, and the young woman reached into its cage and petted it. Petted a mechanical parakeet. Petted and whispered sweet nothings to a mechanical device. Somewhere in China they’re churning out Polly’s by the boatload, and somewhere in Americapeople are keeping them in cages just like real parakeets.
I told myself, no, no they aren’t. No one has a cage with a mechanical parakeet in it.
In ancient China they did. Palace gardens with fountains and flowers and mechanical birds. They were marvels. But that was back then. A mechanical bird was quite a feat of engineering. Now, it’s positively primitive. But nevermind the bird. What’s with the woman petting and talking to it? And why the cage? Polly isn’t likely to fly out. All Polly can do is turn its mechanical head and let out a chirp. It’s that woman I worry about. Of course she’s an actress. She’s being paid to talk to that mechanical parakeet. Not paid much, I’m sure, but a gig is a gig. It’s the ones who aren’t actresses that weird me out. The ones who paid good money (plus shipping and handling) to talk to Polly. Coo at Polly. Pet Polly. Sit there hour after hour, teaching Polly to say hello. Of course if they’re sweet old ladies, it’s not an issue. Sweet old ladies who talk to mechanical parakeets are not really a problem. Sweet old ladies do things like that, and Polly the Parakeet doesn’t smell like a house full of cats. But if you see a guy my size talking to a mechanical parakeet, it’s time to move to the front of the bus.