It was the fifth year of the concert wars, the never-ending conflict between the national and independent promoters. Each was struggling to take new ground by booking shows for acts like Fleetwood Mac, Mark Knopfler and Zwan. And me? I was the proprietor of a little animal emporium in Casablanca, a city both sides deemed neutral territory where alliances could be bought and sold as easily as purchasing a ticket for Blue Oyster Cult. Minus the convenience fees, of course.

I thought I had forgotten her. Her and those wonderful days in France where I ran an animal import / export company specializing in rare species. I was wrestling with a shipment of two-tailed albino alligators straight from the sewers of New York, and I didn’t have time for romance. That is, until I met her.

Oh, those were the days! Days of packing gorillas and Komodo dragons in bubble wrap and nights filled with seeing “Weird Al” Yankovic, Aaron Neville and Johnny Mathis. We spent our time buying venomous canaries from Pasadena to ship to customers in Omaha, long-nosed warthogs for collectors in Toronto and humpback whales for gamblers in Fresno. We bought and sold, never asking questions, not wanting to know, and with the profits we enjoyed the good things in life, such as Queens Of The Stone Age and Tonic. I thought we had everything.

Everything, that is, until the damn birds came into our lives.

They were big, green birds, and nobody knew where they came from, for they arrived in a crate from Spokane marked “five-legged buffalo.” And they talked! They mimicked everything they heard. They sang songs by Jason Mraz and Toby Keith, while treating my entire office, including my desk, bookshelves and full-size, particleboard cutout of Yanni, like statues in the park. The stench was unbelievable and there were feathers everywhere. But I didn’t care. Not with her by my side.

You can guess the rest. The national promoters rolled into town. Of course they came looking for me. They followed the bird droppings to a crate marked “Chowchillian flying viper squirrels” that I had planned on shipping to customers in Bakersfield. My goose was cooked and I ended up spending ten long years in the service charge camps, working my butt off calculating charges for Paul McCartney and Dave Matthews Band. And her? She had long vanished, leaving an itinerary for Chris Whitley at the bottom of one of the birdcages as the only clue to her intentions.

Then, just the other night, she came back. She said she was working for one of the independent promoters, and that she needed the contracts for Cher and the Eagles that I kept hidden in my wall safe. She reminded me of those days in France and those big green birds that squawked incessantly for crackers and tequila whenever they weren’t leaving droppings left and right. Of course, I crumbled quicker than Michael Jackson’s nose, and gave her what she wanted.

And as I put her on that midnight plane to elsewhere, she told me that we were never meant to be. That the problems of two little people didn’t add up to a hill of beans when compared to all the shows, such as Jimmy Buffett and Junior Brown, and all the bookings for Funky Meters, Bright Eyes and Creedence Clearwater Revisited. And then, as she stepped on that stairway to board the plane taking her out of my life forever, she turned and said those words that I’ll remember for the rest of my days.

“You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss” she said as the plane revved up for takeoff. “But we’ll always have parrots.”