Friday, October 23, 2015

Career Day

Dan & Marie

Dan and Marie Quail (pictured below) were two birds that my mother named after the Quayles - the 44th vice president of the United States and his wife (also pictured here for comparison). I'm either incorrectly remembering the female bird's name or my mother didn't do her research before naming the birds. Mrs. Quayle's fist name is actually Marilyn. Though, to be fair, this was pre-Google so she probably would've had to open a book or newspaper or something to actually find out what Dan Quayle's wife was named. But it was close enough.

(Photo credit: me)
The Quails in their little habitat
Dan Quayle, official DoD photo.JPEG
(Photo credit: U.S. Department of Defense)
Dan Quayle
Marilyn Quayle.jpg
(Photo credit: White House Publicity)
Marilyn (not Marie) Quayle
Until they met their unfortunate end, they (the birds, not the former vice-president and his wife - they are still alive) were pretty unremarkable creatures that hung out in this silver metal cage on our back porch. I mean, we weren't cruel, the porch was covered with a lovely roof. The ceiling of the porch was even painted sky-blue by my mother with little white clouds. I like to think she did this to help recreate the birds' natural habitat. But, truthfully, I'm pretty sure it was something she did during a manic episode in which she thought, "Hey! I know what would brighten this place up! I should paint our porch to look like the sky! But first, I should take an extension cord and a light out there because it's the middle of the night right now!" I can't remember if this was before or after she painted our back door to look like the sea. With a sailboat on it, of course! In our sunflower-patterned kitchen. You can't make this stuff up, folks!

Anyway, the Quails were boring. We never really hung out except when I gave them food or watched them hop around in their cage for a few minutes. My parents must not have been overly attached to them either, because when I asked if I could take one of our household pets to school for Career Day, my mother totally offered up one of those poor birds as a sacrifice.

Of course, as a fourth grader, I didn't realize that we were sending one of our animals to an early grave. I just wanted an excuse to take my best pal, our black cat named Brittany Beason, to school with me. I had decided to dress up as a veterinarian. I can't actually remember whether I wanted to be a veterinarian as a fourth grader, or whether I was just pretending to want to be a veterinarian in order to convince my parents that it was necessary that I bring a live animal to school with me. I know myself pretty well, so I'm thinking that my whole story was probably bullshit. Whatever. The point is, my parents were supportive of my dream/bullshit story and allowed me to take Marie (or Marilyn) Quail to school with me for Career Day.

Little did I know, Marie Quail would be in desperate need of a veterinarian by the end of the school day.

Marie meets fourth grade

Being a very calm and boring bird, I assumed she would chill out in her cage and hop about if someone fed her. Truthfully, I probably didn't even think that far ahead as (again) I was a fourth grader. See how easily I deny any responsibility for this event? I should run for office. (Except that voters will have this animal tragedy memoir to cite when they discuss whether or not I am emotionally stable enough for the position.)

The bird wasn't chill. She found the room full of fourth graders extremely upsetting and decided she would rather die than be a part of this world for one eight-hour day. And, really, as someone who has worked in the public school system, I can't blame her. She didn't hop. She leapt up and down all day until eventually she bashed her head against the top of her cage enough times to give herself a pretty severe head injury. By the end of the day, the little bird had a bloody head and still continued to exhibit self-injurious behavior during the quiet ride home from school that afternoon.

I was, naturally, very concerned for the animal and wanted it to be seen by a vet. My parents had adopted a not uncommon attitude toward the injured bird, stating, "It will be fine" or, "We'll see a vet tomorrow". She was dead by morning.

At this point in the story, dear readers, you may choose your own ending! For Ending #1, you will read the story that I was either told as a child, invented as a child, or invented as a child in order to repress the story I was told as a child. For Ending #2, you will read the story that I was told as an adult. This is a common theme in this blog. It turns out that when you are an adult, you are expected to be able to laugh with the rest of the family about how your dog wasn't really taken to "live on a farm". Anyway, choose your ending carefully.

Ending #1 - I'm pretty sure that I made this one up as a child because I was old enough to stop asking questions, and wise enough to know that my pretend ending was better anyway.

Dan Quail, who had been reunited with his frantic and self-injurious wife just hours before her death, also died within days. We weren't sure what happened. My sister Megan and I decided that he must have died of a broken heart. Though we both secretly thought it was probably more likely that he died of a combination of stress and exposure to the elements. My parents did not correct any of these assumptions.

(Photo credit: me again)
See how in love they are? 

Ending #2 - The story told to me by my father when I was old enough to forget why I had stopped asking questions.

Me: I'm going to tell the story about the Quails in my blog.
Dad: Oh, you mean the quail that ate each other?
Me: What?!? No! Marie jumped up and down in the cage until she bludgeoned herself to death.
Dad: Oh. That's right. And then they ate each other.

Let this be a lesson to those of you who think you want to hear Ending #2 to these stories.
At this point in the conversation I remembered to stop asking questions. So the best guess I have for you, dear reader, is that Marie Quail became suicidal after being locked in a room with hyper fourth graders for a day. Upon returning home, her suicidal behavior either turned homicidal and she decided to devour her one true love, or her one true love smelled her bloody head wound when she arrived home and decided to devour her. Either way, it wasn't a pretty ending for the Quails. Or any of my pets. You have been warned.

1 comment:

  1. P.S. Only YOU can prevent quail cannabalism.