Like most flight attendants, I enjoy reading a good book. On the jumpseat. After the meal service of course! And one of the books I read on a jumpseat years ago flying back and forth from New York to whatever west coast city I was flying to that particular month – Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, you pick – was a disturbing novel by Bret Easton Ellis called LUNAR PARK. It’s been quite a few years since I read the book, but what I remember most, besides almost not being able to finish it, were the scenes involving a possessed bird doll that at one point grows real fangs and bites Bret in the crotch. The bird doll was so scary, so over the top, I remember thinking to myself, Where the heck does this guy come up with these crazy ideas. Well now I know. And what they say is true, writers really do write about what they know. But we’ll get to that in a moment. First I’d like to share with you what was printed in the Village Voice in 2005. Brandon Stosuy wrote …
Lunar Park could be interpreted as retrospective, but Ellis insists the decision was the result of a “technical problem”: “I had done this very long outline while I was working on other stuff and it was pretty much the book as it is now, but [the main character] wasn’t Bret Easton Ellis.” Blocked, realizing that it was already autobiographical, he keyed his name into the text. “When I decided to make that choice everything opened up,” he says. “The book then became much more driven and much more personal to me.” Of course, scoop-craving critics have remained too concerned with discerning fact/fiction. “Yes, I was attacked by a bird doll. It bit my leg open. I was on a cane for a year. I don’t like to talk about it. I don’t want to go there,” he says sarcastically.
Meet Pete, the talking parrot, the talking parrot, who repeats EVERYTHING I say, everything I say, twice. Pete came to live with us on Christmas Day. He was a present to my son, bought by yours truly. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking. Of course Pete was a hit with my son, who’d pet the bird gently and give it kisses with a big, mmmwhaw!
Mmmmwhaw, mmmmwhaw, Pete repeated, flapping his colorful wings.
Good bird, I said, smiling at my son.
Good bird good bird, went Pete.
Pete wasn’t always a good bird. My husband and I soon became very disturbed when in the middle of the night Pete began to squawk. “What the hell!” my husband growled.
“I’ll take care of it,” I said, flinging back the covers, and then running as fast as I could down the dark hall to my son’s room where Pete sat on the dresser flapping his wings. I grabbed Pete, smothered his damn beak, and ran into the guest room, all the while struggling to find the switch to turn the bird off. Let’s just say most nights Pete somehow ended up under the guest room bed. Only to be rescued by my son the next morning.
“That bird freaks me out,” my husband once remarked.
Yeah well he wasn’t the only one freaked out. Because Pete had begun to remind me of a very scary character in a book I’d once read, a book I’d forgotten all about, LUNAR PARK.
For obvious reasons, I didn’t really like that book.
Yesterday I was at the park with my son when I got a call from my friend Cady. “I know this probably sounds crazy,” said Cady, “But I seriously think my daughters stuffed puppy has been possessed by the ghost of my aunt.”
Cady was right. I thought she was crazy. “What!” I shrieked into the phone as I helped my son down the slide.
“Ever since my aunt died the talking dog has been randomly talking on it’s own. Last night it got so creepy, I had to throw it in the garage.”
“Oh my god,” I exclaimed, “I’ve got a talking parrot buried in a closet!” And then I went on to tell her all about Pete.
“Wanna hear something funny?” Cady said, and she giggled, and wouldn’t stop giggling. “I put the dog in the husband’s car, strapped in the backseat.”
I laughed so hard my own husband came running into the living room saying, “What what? Tell me, tell me!”
“Nothing,” I said, a sly smile on my face.
And so, in the spirit of Cady, Pete, the talking parrot who talks when he’s not supposed to talk, now sits in the backseat of my husband’s car waiting to go for a ride, waiting for a ride.