I never liked the word “boyfriend,” even when I was younger. One, it sounds so teeny bopperish at the best of times. Two, it seems far too self-explanatory. I mean, seriously, a boyfriend is a “boy” who is a tad bit more than a “friend.”

Well, no shit, Sherlock.

When I was younger, I also swore to any adult who would listen that I would never get a boyfriend. Never get married, never have kids, none of it. Ew. Gross. Yucky.

The times they have a-changed. (By the by, I love Bob Dylan.)

These days, I do in fact have a boyfriend.

His name is Danny, and he is a boy and my friend.

Actually, his age makes him more of a man than a boy, and he is my best friend.

I was reluctant to write about him on this blog because a large part of me is still kind of holding on to keeping things private. It feels stereotypically girly to write about him too. But after sitting on a comfortable couch and re-watching Pacific Rim while ruminating on this subject, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is only fair to be open and honest about Danny here as I have been about everything else I’ve written on this blog.

So here goes.

I first met Danny at one of my friends’ house. She invited me over to hang out while a short film was being shot there. I said yes, so bright and early the next morning, I went over right as they were setting up. Breakfast was available, and I was hungry, so she and I piled food on our plates and dug in while some people I had never met before began preparing for the filming.

One of those persons was Danny.

While I was stuffing my face at the kitchen table with my friend, Danny was sitting on a nearby couch cleaning a camera lens. As I was eating, I began complaining to my friend about deaths in comic books (over-utilized, underwhelming, and ultimately meaningless).

I was ranting, going on a tirade about how stupid death has become in comics, and as my complaints piled on in intensity, from the corner of my eye, I could see this stranger smiling. When he caught me looking at him, he said, “Everything you just said, I completely agree with.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

Danny and I began an email correspondence, and we got to know each other better and better as the months passed by. Eventually, after many anecdotes had been shared and inside jokes made, I worked up the courage and asked him out. (Don’t believe him if he ever says that he asked me out. It was me. I did it. I grew a pair and made the first move.)

I could tell you a million things about Danny. He does not like oatmeal. He has a fondness for trivia. He has mastered the art of the perfect comeback. His ability to analyze complex situations and come up with simple solutions is unparalleled. His ability to play Halo, not so much. He thinks Ocarina of Time is the best video game of all time. His favorite super hero is Nightwing. He likes to ramble, and he’s the best at telling stories. He has absolutely no sense of rhythm and he can’t hold a tune to save his life.

Is it corny to say we suit each other? We’re both laid-back. We would rather stay home and watch a movie than go out and party. One of my favorite things to do is to read at the table with him while he’s focused on doing something else.

I’m not embarrassed (okay, maybe just a little) to say that I love him. It’s funny that his first words to me were about agreeing with me. Because if I had to describe how Danny and I fit together, the best way to say it is that we are in agreement with each other. And by agreement, I don’t mean that we are of the same mind about different topics and that we never disagree with each other. What I mean to say is that we correspond with each other, we fit like two puzzle pieces, differently shaped, yet perfectly formed to be placed side by side together.

Like peanut butter and jelly, barbecue sauce and ribs, Master Chief and a Halo ring, Danny and I completely agree with each other.

Big Dog, Small Bird

My sister, Alya, owns a dog named Ushi (pronounced OO-shee). Alya got her when she was a cute little puppy. She is the most adorable creature I’ve ever met (excluding Froley) and she really deserves her own post (which I may write in the future).

Ushi on the grass

Ushi is a giant dog, part St. Bernard, part Great Pyrenees. If you’re familiar with those breeds, you know that Ushi is massive.

Ushi and I lying on the floor

However, since my sister owns two birds and a tortoise in addition to her big puppy, Ushi has learned to be really gentle with small creatures. My sister’s birds, unfortunately, haven’t taken to Ushi despite her calm-giant demeanor. And the tortoise really just minds his own business.

Froley likes Ushi though.

You wouldn’t think that the ornery Froley who only likes particular people at particular moments would become fond of the large, goofy Ushi.

But for some reason, he’s devotedly tolerant of her.

Ushi and the birds

Whenever Froley and I spend the night at my sister’s, he’ll always wake up in a fantastic mood. He’ll waddle up to Ushi in the morning and start chirping sweet nothings to her wet, black nose. His wings will be semi-lifted in a heart-shaped position, his head tilted as close to her as he can get.

As he twitters at her, Ushi will sniff him once then look away, as if she’s embarrassed by his attentions. (For all we know, she is.)

Froley is the best judge of character (except for when he’s feeling grumpy), so I take his affection for her to be a confirmation of Ushi’s kind nature. Ushi is a sweet puppers, the sweetest, most loving dog I’ve ever had the pleasure to have met.

Alya raised Ushi with care. Just like people think that dogs are proof that God loves us, Ushi thinks people are proof that God loves her. Her face whenever a person is petting her reveals pure bliss. She honestly prefers humans to other dogs.

Despite being a bit of a goof (she’s not overly intelligent sometimes), she’s surprisingly gentle. Of course, there are times when she’s accidentally rough with her enthusiastic affections. (She doesn’t know her own size.)

Ushi and me taking a selfie

I cannot stress enough how much my sister has to do with Ushi’s sweetness. Both my sister and I wanted a dog for as long as I can remember. I ended up taking the bird path (the path less flown), but Alya actually followed her childhood dream and got herself a dog.

Alya once told me how she learned that birthday wishes (blowing out the candles on your cake and making a wish) aren’t real. She said for every childhood birthday she had, she would wish her hardest for a dog, desperately pleading to whatever higher power there was to grant her wish for a slobbery companion. But none came.

Well, Alya, I’d say that every birthday wish you made coalesced and formed Ushi. Just as Froley, the persnickety bird with old-man ways, is my soul pet, Ushi is yours.

You just had to wait a little bit. (Patience, Iago.)

So here’s to our pets!

Me and Froley, Ushi and Alya

The Most Wonderful Bird in the World

Froley is currently waddling on the newspaper I have surrounding his cage. He pecks at minuscule crumbs that I can’t see and makes contented little chirps every so often, which serve to let me know that the coast is clear and no predators are currently stalking the living room. His feet make actual pitter-patter noises. Seriously, you haven’t heard a pitter or a patter until you’ve heard a cockatiel’s footsteps.

Froley, as you might have expertly sussed out, is my pet cockatiel. He’s a Normal Grey, which some snobby people consider to be the plebeians of cockatiels, but screw that. I’ll have you know that Froley is quite attractive. His face is the nice yellow of legal pads, and his cheeks are the bright red-orange of Pikachu’s cheek pouches. Here is a picture of Froley’s handsomeness.

Froley on the couch

Gorgeous, isn’t he?

Like all cockatiels, he has a crest that rises and falls depending on his mood. The more alarmed he is, the higher it goes and the skinnier he gets. A relaxed Froley has a relaxed crest.

He’s like a weird mix of a human infant and an elderly man. He needs constant attention and he is really set in his ways. Seriously, he needs a keen eye monitoring him because if you’re not watching his every move he will a) eat something he is not supposed to, b) tear apart the book you have lying around, or c) poop somewhere he wasn’t meant to poop.

He has temper tantrums. If he’s not in the mood to be handled, he’ll open his beak threateningly, prepared to nip at my proffered finger. He’s bitten me before, but he’s never drawn blood. (Because he is a darling angel.)

If his mood swings aren’t enough, I also have to maintain his cage and his food to perfection. He likes to make a mess of his pellets, so in order to counteract this habit, I crush his pellets so he is more inclined to just eat them. He also enjoys it when I rotate his toys out, so he has new, pretty things to look at within his home.

He also can’t control when and where he poops. I always have to be on the alert. I can’t even count the times I’ve sat down on a little homemade Froley surprise. Honestly, bird poop doesn’t even faze me anymore.

Froley on my computer chair

Did I mention that he likes to masturbate on an open hand? Put your palm up, fingers spread wide, and he’ll fly right over and start doing his business. Afterwards, he flies off and leaves you to stare at your hand in a well-what-now kind of way.

I titled this piece “The Most Wonderful Bird in the World,” right?

When I wake Froley up in the morning (after he’s done his humongous Morning Poop), he likes to whistle little tunes in my ear. If he spent the night next to my bed, he’ll hop over from his bedtime cage onto my pillow as soon as the sun’s up, climb his way onto my shoulder, and then take a second nap with me as I try to catch up on lost sleep. When he’s ready to wake up for reals, he’ll slide down next to my face and try to preen my eyelashes.

He likes to look at himself in mirrors. When I do my morning ablutions, he sings to himself and to me.

He misses me when I’m gone. He’ll chirp wildly in a panic when he notices me getting ready to leave the house, until I call out to him, telling him that it’s okay and I’ll be right back. And when I open the front door again, he screeches with joy at my return.

He likes being hand-fed certain vegetables. His favorite is Romaine Lettuce. He’ll make little warbles of happiness while he eats if I call him a “pretty bird” encouragingly.

I could go on and on about him.

Bottom line?

Froley is the most wonderful bird in the world. He is my soul pet. When he sidles close to my cheek and rests his head there, not so subtly telling me he wants me to scratch his head, I sometimes pause and reflect on how lucky I am to have such a pet. There is so much trust between Froley and me; I forget how astonishing it is to have a bird feel secure enough in your company that he allows you to encircle his fragile, little head within your hand as you cuddle with him just the way he likes. My reflections end as soon as he gets annoyed that I’m not giving him an adequate amount of attention. I return to cuddling him, saying, “Good bird,” all the while praising the stars that he’s alive, and I’m alive, and we’re together.