Inventions for Jim and His Dead Bird

When I was 17 I babysat for a family that lived in a tiki themed motel hidden away behind an industrial complex in the small beach town where I lived in Florida. Most of my time babysitting was spent swimming in the motel’s giant circle shaped pool. While sitting by the pool I got to know several other families that lived at the motel, and eventually the motel manager, let’s call him Jim. When I met Jim he was wearing a straw sun hat, a tropical print shirt, its front pocket stretched out from jamming and retrieving soft packs of cigarettes, khaki shorts, and beat up sandals. His skin was darkly tanned and leathery. His face was almost red.

While chatting with Jim and another motel dweller, we discussed the tropical birds that lived in the parking lot trees, which led Jim to tell us about his late pet parrot, whose name I now forget. Jim wreaked of cheap beer and looked exhausted. The conversation was less mutual and more humoring a lonely old man, nearly the age of my grandfather, another sunburnt lover of cheap beer with a preference for soft pack cigarettes.

Jim told us the details of his bird’s last week, funny behavior, lethargic, and feathers that kept falling out. He asked if we would like to see her. We said, “sure,” assuming Jim was going inside to find a picture to show us. Instead, Jim returned with a plastic freezer bag full of a large frozen parrot.

This project is a proposal for Jim. In the years since we met I have thought of him often, and mostly thought of better ways for him to deal with the issue of his late pet’s mortal remains. Though his solution was unexpected, the problem is a common one: what to do with the remains of our furry and feathered loved ones? The projects in this series are not an exhaustive list, but the tip of the iceberg. If you have a proposal that you would like to share please send it to