Dejected, the miser decided to go for a walk and to cheer himself up with some downtown window shopping that wouldn’t cost anything. He walked by a pet store, and a sign saw caught his eye: “Exclusive: Rare Bolivian Blue Macaw – Talks and Sings!” An idea flashed in his mind: this is perfect! “A companion like this bird won’t demand much from me, but he sing for me and talk to me…”
Despite the huge $5,000 price tag, the miser bought the bird, figuring that it’s still a decent buy for a loyal companion that doesn’t demand much. The store owner warned him though, that this Bolivian Macaw only eats Acai (a-sa-ee) berries from Bolivia. The bird must have 20 berries a day, or else it won’t talk or sing. A package of 600 berries – a one-month’s supply – costs $60. Even though the miser didn’t like the idea of spending $2/day to feed the bird, he figured that it was less than feeding a whole demanding family, so he bought the bird and a two-month’s supply of berries.
The miser was thrilled with his purchase. The macaw, despite his Latin-American accent, spoke beautiful English. When he whistled “El Condor Pasa”, he sounded just like Edgar Muenala playing the panflute. All it cost the miser was his one-time initial investment and then 20 acai berries a day.
After two weeks of bliss with his bird, the miser thought: “The bird can sing and talk, but it probably doesn’t know arithmetic. If I feed it 19 berries instead of 20, I’ll save 10 cents a day, and the bird probably won’t know the difference!” For the next few days, the bird received one berry less a day, but still gave over the daily news and whistled “Amazing Grace.”
The miser was really proud of himself, how he outsmarted the bird for 3 days, while giving it 19 berries instead of twenty and saving a whopping 10 cents a day. So, for the next 3 days, he fed the bird 18 berries a day; lo and behold, the bird continued to sing and speak. A few days letter, the miser once more withheld a berry, giving 17 a day, now saving 30 cents a day! The bird continued to sing and speak, even though he was starting to become monotonous. Little by little, the miser weaned the bird down to 10 berries a day, half its subsistence ration. Amazingly, the macaw still spoke but its singing was off key and instead of sounding like a pan flute, it sounded like a kazoo. A month later, the miser was giving his pale and melancholy macaw a mere 5 berries a day.
The next day, the miser found the bird lying lifelessly in its cage. The heartless miser shrugged his shoulders and huffed, “O shucks – just as I almost taught the bird to get along with no food, it had the nerve to die on me!”
* * *
If you think this parable sounds ridiculous, I agree – it does. But I’m sorry to say that it sounds like too many couples who come to me, with the husband begging for emergency help while the wife wants a divorce. He thought that she was some dumb bird, and instead of giving her the twenty berries of daily attention she needs like he did when they were dating and first married, he gradually gives her less and less. Often, he withholds money too, just like the miser. But if he were just withholding money and attention, that’s only half the tragedy. He now complains and criticizes her for not doing enough – not singing her version of El Condor Pasa, even though she still irons his shirts, bears children and even contributes to the family income. She’s just like the miser’s Bolivian Macaw, except that he has been a miser, starving her emotionally or monetarily, and then wonders why she doesn’t show him affection.
In a relationship, you can’t be a cheapskate. A woman wants a sympathetic, listening ear and a husband who loves her enough to turn off the cellphone, the movie or the ball game and spend some quality time with her. Guys, if you want your woman to sing a melody of happiness, give her the gift of your time and attention. Make her top priority in your life. That’s not even a gift – it’s her emotional sustenance. Don’t starve her, for she is the conduit of every blessing you have, so G-d bless for lots of marital joy!