A Discussion with a Trained Parrot

Owner: So, Polly, would you like a cracker?

Polly: (squawk) Please don’t patronize me.

Owner: Why, Polly, whatever do you mean?

Polly: The cliché is both demoralizing and ignorant. (squawk)

Owner: Wow. Those are mighty big words, Polly. Where did you learn them?

Polly (stretching wings, hopping sideways on perch): Through time-consuming vocal training as taught by you.

Owner: Does that mean you simply repeat the words without an comprehension of the meaning?

Polly: Yes, I suspect so.

Owner: Do you know what you are saying now?

Polly (nibbling at wing with tip of beak): No.

Owner: Then how are you able to answer my questions?

Polly: Once again, through rigorous training exercises a la Pavlov. My love for (squawk) sustenance assists greatly in the matter.

Owner (giving the parrot a few pellets of unknown treat): Don’t underestimate yourself. Your intelligence is quite obviously head and shoulders above other birds.

Polly: No, sir. Any monkey could do it.

Owner: Quite the contrary. Monkeys do not and cannot speak in the manner you do.

Polly: What are you saying?

Owner: That you are special.

Polly: I am merely doing as I am trained (squawk).

Owner: Come now. Are you inferring that if I were to ask a question not yet learned in your exercises, you would be unable to reply?

Polly (bobbing head randomly): Yes. 

Owner: Interesting. Do you have a girlfriend?

Polly (hopping on side of cage and sliding down the bars toward water dish): I don’t know what that means?

Owner: But you do understand the question?

Polly: No. (sips water with pencil-thick gray tongue)

Owner: Then how were you able to answer?

Polly: I was trained to reply accordingly at that particular juncture.

Owner: Very intriguing. Well, thank you for your time. You have enlightened us all.

Polly: Hardly. You are a buffoon.

Owner: Thank you for your time.

Polly: (squawk)