As told to me by Kurt Wold: One day Kurt came to dinner at the artist Norman O. Mustill’s house and noticed a birdcage. “Norm,” he said, “you have a bird!” He walked over to it and said, “Hi budgie, budgie.” To which a somewhat pathetic-looking, pale blue budgerigar grasped the bars of the cage, pulled his body as tight as he could to Kurt’s face, and announced: “Hi, I’m a homosexual.” Norm explained that the bird, which he’d named Sheldon Push, was so keen to talk it only took him 20 minutes of repetition to nail down a phrase. He would hang the cage near him while he worked and quickly had the little budgie cursing in half a dozen languages.
One time Norm hired a plumber. When the plumber quoted his price, Sheldon let him have it right on cue: “Fuck you baby! Jesus Christ, what a motherfucker!” The plumber was stunned. He turned, his hand balled in a fist, and rounded on Norm. “No, no man,” Norm shouted. “It’s the bird, just the bird!” Norm also had a cat named George, “his best art critic,” he said, because George would piss on his collages.
“Well,” Kurt recalls, “Norm used Sheldon Push to torture his critic.” Sheldon would jump off his perch, stomp around on the papered floor of his cage, and exclaim, “Jesus, what a shithouse! Hey George, ya want a little leg? How about a little leg?” The little budgie sounded exactly like Norm of course, only in miniature. It would drive George bonkers. He would shriek and run in high-speed circles, then fly out of the house through the cat door.