Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Me and Mikey in Hawaii

When I was just out of high school, I moved to the Oahu island of Hawaii. For almost two years, I lived and worked in Waikiki, where most of the tourist activity is. I had a job taking pictures of people with trained parrots. The catch was that it wasn't in some studio. I had to cruise the streets and work my magical sales techniques on unsuspecting tourists. It was the most difficult job I've ever had.

There were countless obstacles standing between me and every sale. The first of them was the street. Every hotel and business I tried to sell in front of would chase me off, or worse, call the cops. They hated guys like me, and for good reason: I was a hustler. So I was constantly moving. Next, I had to deal with "Dad". Every father, husband, and boyfriend knew I was a con artist. If they saw me coming, they did everything they could to get in my way. So I constantly had to sneak up on people, and go straight after the kids, wife, or girlfriend to avoid confrontation with "Dad". The exception was newlyweds. All newlyweds are suckers for souvenir photos on their honeymoon. If you ask me, every man and woman stupid enough to be conned into marriage in the first place deserves to get taken for a ride. Then, of course, I had to deal with the birds. Those birds were a handful. They were trained, but it hardly mattered. If they didn't want to cooperate, there was nothing I could do about it. Plus, they shit all over everything. They would shit on me, on the customers, even on the camera. Take it from me; no one wants a picture with a bird once that bird shits on him.

All the stars had to be aligned just right for me to make a dime. The key to the whole scam was getting people to stop and play with the birds. Because once I had a little kid holding one of those adorable animals, "Dad" was in my world. So there were tricks I learned, gimmicks to get their attention and get them interested.

One of my favorite tricks involved my favorite bird to work with: Mikey. Mikey was an Eclectic Parrot. They are a small, bright green bird with an orange beak the same color of candy corn. He was gorgeous and well trained. I would lock his feet together and juggle him back and forth in my hands like a ball. The kids loved it. The gag was this: I'd juggle Mikey to get their attention; then I would toss him at someone in the group. They'd flinch and try to catch him, but he would open up and fly back to me before they could reach him. Everybody loved that gag. Mikey and I belonged in a circus.

Once, there were two beautiful young girls strolling down the cobbled sidewalk in my direction. They were the spoiled rich girl types: long hair, long legs, and looking a long way down their noses at a street hustler like me. I usually only wasted my time on girls if I was trying to get laid. And I certainly wouldn't waste time on girls I knew were out of my league, because god forbid a rich honeymoon couple wondered by and I lost the opportunity for a legitimate sale. The day was pretty slow. I was just hanging out tossing Mikey around. I was bored, so I decided to pull the old "catch my bird" gag. So I said "heads up ladies." and tossed him at one of them.

Two things happened simultaneously: one, Mike didn't open up and fly back to me; and two, the girl wasn't paying attention and didn't hear me say "heads up." So Mikey hit her. He bounced right off her bikini-covered, probably surgically augmented boob, and hit the ground like a ripe mango.

Boing! Splat!

I must have juggled him dizzy, because he never knew what happened. He bounced off the girl, hit the ground, and laid there in a ball like a discarded burrito. I was in shock.

I wasn't concerned about the girls at this point. I immediately picked up Mikey and started talking to him like a trauma patient. "Mikey, are you okay? Mikey, can you hear me? Mikey, what the hell is wrong with you? You made me look like an asshole." He was fine, a little dazed, but fine.

The girl, however, was traumatized! It took her a second to realize that I had just bounced a bird off her tit. When she did, she looked at me like I was some kind of monster. I know that was the look because a moment later she hissed "What are you, some kind of monster? What kind of sicko throws a bird at someone?" She went on and on about cruelty to animals and calling the police. I was pretty scared.

I tried to explain to the girls that it was supposed to be a joke. That he just got dizzy and lost his equilibrium. They didn't get it. They just thought I was some freak who threw birds at people for fun. So I gave up. Mikey and I slinked away in shame. I made sure that we took side streets and alleyways back to the shop, just in case.

Usually I have a happy ending for a story in case someone decides to make it into a movie. Today, I only have a lesson to be learned. Take it from me fellas: if you want to get cute girls to talk to you, skip the exotic animals, and get a puppy.

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