Tuesday, July 7, 2020 -
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Watson, meet Nakamura

Have you heard this joke? As you’ll see, it’s not entirely a joke.

A Jew spends years teaching his parrot to daven the entire High Holiday services. The parrot’s owner bets huge sums with other congregants that his pet bird will indeed recite the services. Comes ma’ariv, however, and the parrot is silent. $25,000 loss. Comes shacharit, more silence, more thousands down the tubes. By the time Rosh Hashanah is over, the parrot’s owner is six-figures poorer — and furious at his parrot, who has davened absolutely nothing. Zero. Zip. The man glares at his parrot: “I know you can do it! I’ve heard you do it a hundred times. Why the silence?” “Ah,” the parrot smiles cooly and calmy, “just imagine the odds we’ll get on Yom Kippur!”

Well, the following is no joke.

Two weeks ago, an African gray parrot flew out of its cage in Tokyo and made a soft landing on an empty roof, where it perched totally alone and bereft. The police rescued the parrot and brought it to the station –– but the bird did not like the police and remained resolutely silent. While the cops hunted for additional clues in the case, they transferred the parrot to a nearby veterinary hospital. The vets cajoled the bird, fed it, and no doubt babbled idiotic featherisms. No go –– until a couple of days later.

Suddenly, the parrot announced to the vets, in perfect Japanese, “I’m Mr. Yosuke Nakamura.” Then the parrot supplied its home address, complete with the street number, and broke into a few Japanese tunes. Well, the vets were floored. Professionally dubious, the police nevertheless checked out the street address provided by the parrot and searched for a family or person named Nakamura.

Yes, Watson, the Nakamura family lived on that very street. “So we told them we’ve found Yosuke,” police said Tuesday.

After they were reunited with their parrot, the Nakamuras explained that they had been teaching Yosuke how to say its name and address for two years. Now, who is smarter, the parrot or its human guardians? We think they both deserve lots of praise.

The verb “parrot,” meaning “to imitate the words or actions of another, especially without understanding them,” might be a good behavior for many of us –– particularly children and the elderly –– to learn in this chaotic world. You don’t have to understand the meaning. Just remember the words. They might help you find your way home.

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