Today I would like to address the following topic: "Why I personally admire birds." I realize that some of you might be surprised by this choice of topic, particularly if you recall the Episode of the Runaway Bird wherein I spent the better part of a late summer's day tracking the movements of our family's AWOL cockatiel as it flew from treetop to treetop in our Avenues neighborhood, not unlike a teenage boy on a Friday night "pool-hopping" expedition.

Actually, I still believe birds are stupid, which is why the term "birdbrain" was invented in the first place. (The Oxford English Dictionary defines "birdbrain" as an adult, not unlike myself, who enjoys calling up talk radio shows.) Anyway, I know from direct personal experience how dumb birds really are, including my own parrot, Tuxedo. Here are just a few of the stupid things that Tuxedo knows how to do:1. Bark (like a dog).

2. Hang upside down in his cage (like a bat).

3. Let go (like a moron).

4. Call up Dr. Laura on the radio to ask for personal advice (also like a moron).

5. PLEASE! Have we as a nation forgotten that Dr. Laura is an annoying DJ with one kid who isn't even a teenager yet? So what makes her think she's so much smarter than the rest of us?

There is one way in which my parrot, however, is very smart, as the following little story demonstrates. The other day when my beautiful friend Kathy came over for a visit, Tuxedo took one look at her and started bobbing his head so hard that his eyeballs began spinning like cherries in a slot machine.

"Why's he doing that?" Kathy wanted to know.

"Because he thinks you're cute and wants to go out on a date with you," I told her. "That's how parrots ask."

OK. So maybe there are a few details Tuxedo didn't think through carefully - he's a bird, she's not, he's in a cage, she's not - but still, you have to give him huge points for being smart enough to come up with A CHEAP AND SIMPLE WAY TO ASK SOMEBODY OUT ON A DATE!

I've been thinking a lot about this subject lately since I read Deseret News staff writer Susan Whitney's interesting March 30 article on "creative invitations." In a nutshell, here's what happens.

1. Your doorbell rings.

2. You open the door to discover that someone has erected a large freeway-size billboard with flashing neon lights in front of your house, asking your teenager to go to the prom.

3. You close the door and immediately feel like jumping off a bridge because you know this means your teenager will soon be renting a hot air balloon equipped with loudspeakers and dancing girls in order to answer.

4. By the way, all of this (including the date itself) will cost approximately your next month's salary.

"Why can't you guys just pick up the telephone like we did and call each other for pete's sake?' I whine to my kids, who already think that I and my generation were too boring to breathe and why in the world would they want to be like us anyway?

It's just that dating used to be so simple: He called and you said yes. He (wearing sideburns) drove to your house in his mom's station wagon and took you (wearing hip-huggers and a smock top) to a movie at the Uintah Theatre where he bought popcorn and drinks before the newest disaster movie started.

Once the movie began you wondered if he was going to put his arm around you, which he eventually did. Sometimes he got nervous, though, and accidentally clipped you in the side of the head with his elbow, thereby causing you to yelp and upend your popcorn tub.

Later on the two of you hooked up with friends and went to somebody's basement where you ate pizza and watched as a certain member of the Provo High School debate team stuffed 45 large marshmallows into his mouth. (Actually, I'm dying to tell you this guy's name, but since I hear he's now living in Utah County as a functioning mature adult who probably does not want his wife and children to know how many marshmallows he can hold in his mouth at once, I will refrain.)

So anyway, this is why I truly admire our feathered friends and hope we can all be more like them.