So I enter Progressive Grounds café in the San Francisco Mission district for a reading from “Love, InshAllah, the Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women,” when a bird walks in. Not just any old bird, but a blue and gold macaw. It sits down, well, perches, on the top of a chair. His owner sits in the chair next to him. They’re hanging out like they’re at home, which, actually is an upstairs apartment. They come here often.
Well, this bird, named Trinidad, is gorgeous. I mean drop dead gorgeous. His turquoise wings are so intense you are inclined to stare, and his yellow feathers so brilliant they could blind the sun.
The bird’s person orders an ice cream cone, imported from Mitchell’s, about a mile away (yea! the café is keepin’ it local). The bird turns around a few times, facing out the side door he had entered to check out what’s going on in the street. He turns back around to face the counter when it suits him. At the top of his lungs, he goes “Screeeeeech!” A man brushes by him as he enters the café. Apparently Trinidad doesn’t like men. His owner, who did not wish to share his own name, is an obvious exception.
In a little while, Trinidad starts bobbing his head up and down, up and down. His person says Trinidad is dancing to the jazzy music playing in the coffee house. Maybe his enjoyment contributes to his long life. Trinidad is already 25 years old and macaws can live up to 40, 50, even 90 years.
I can only imagine what goes on upstairs where no doubt he “rules the roost,” because downstairs, he seems to get what he wants. He eyes the ice cream cone. In time, he leans in and uses his thick black tongue to taste it. He seems unphased although it’s pretty different from the non-dairy diet his few brethren remaining in the rainforest consume: nuts, seeds and fruits. In case you were wondering, cacao beans are toxic to macaws.
Native to South America I can’t say whether or not such a phenomenal creature should be domesticated. But I can say that Trinidad does not have clipped wings, can fly wherever he wants and is not chained to his person in any way. A macaw characteristic, loyalty (in this case to a human), may explain it. Or maybe he just can’t find ice cream in the forest.