Thursday, December 21, 2006

My Buddy Ralph

Ralph is a man of few words. Each one is carefully chosen from his limited repertoire. Be that as it may, Ralph is quite a communicator and actually is one of the more interesting residents of the Towers. Ralph also does not get out much; if he does it is an event of monumental proportions and usually causes quite a stir. But in his simplicity, directness and even touch of mystery, he is most fascinating. A rare visit to Ralph's always makes my day.

Ralph, you see is a parrot. A 27 yr old African Gray. I was going to take a picture of him, but the flash on my camera seems to not want to operate. He is pretty much as his name implies, Gray with a hint of red in his tail and a few white feathers thrown in for contrast. He lives in a big bird cage in Marcia's apartment on the 3rd floor. Soon Ralph (and Marcia too) will be joining us here in the basement of the Towers as she is renovating the dungeon for her new apartment. This is not Ralph but a typical pose of an African Gray.

As I said, he is a bird of few words, mostly "hello", "Come on", "Good boy", "I love you", "Gitch you" (sic) and my favorite "WHOA!!!", which he lustily greets you with upon arrival. He has a vast repertoire of whistles and squawks which are almost more meaningful than his words. The whistles and hellos are usually accompanied by a vigorous bobbing of his head with one eye plastered to the side of the cage, keeping close watch on the visitor. He also loves to clamp on to my hat and try to steal it. Lucky for me, it won't fit through the bars.

Ralph is my entertainment as I wander through the halls on my various rounds. I can tell if Marcia has used the microwave as I hear his "beep beep beep beeeeeeeeeep" which sounds just like the damn thing. If someone has went into the back room off the kitchen, I know that too as he mimics the squeak of the door. He really dislikes people invading his space and making noise. That usually is cause for him to sound the alarm, a fast "beeep beeep beeep beeep" just like a security alarm. He did the same thing when Puggles first came to visit him. "Sound the alarm, I have been invaded!"

Ralph and I have become good buddies. Since Marcia travels out of town occasionally, I am charged with feeding and entertaining Mr. Ralph. We chat, whistle back and forth and communicate in a strangely effective manner. I think he is happy to see me as I am in return. My hearty "hello Ralph" is met with a "WHOA!" or a "Hell-low" the "low" a bit lower in pitch. The combination is effectively casual-friendly. Actually, Ralph's greetings are more sincere and friendly than many of the inhabitants of this place. Says a lot about them, doesn't it?

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