The Dog Short Trilogy
I sat with my coffee, scratching my Dalmatian, Lucy, the way she loves to be scratched, and pondering the day. I woke up this morning 30 years old.
“You know, Lucy,” I said to her. “Sylvia Plath said something interesting about birthdays.”
“No, she didn’t,” Lucy said, pulling away from my scratching. “She never said anything about birthdays.”
Little Miss Smarty Pants was angry with me for feeding her late this morning. Pardon me for sleeping late on my birthday. There was something different about her today though. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
“Are you wearing a hair piece?” I asked her.
“No,” she replied.
“Wait,” I said. “Since when do you talk?”
“I’ve always talked. You just haven’t been listening, you frigging oblivious bastard. And Sylvia Plath said nothing about birthdays. But The Lord did say to Moses ‘I am who am’.”
“Who are you, Goliath?”
“The talking dog from the claymation show Davey and Goliath, the religious cartoon.”
“Jesus loves you.”
“Great, I have a talking dog, and she’s a Jesus freak.”
“The Lord said whoever says ‘I am who am’ is God.”
“Popeye said ‘I am who am.’ Is he God too?”
“Yes, Popeye’s God, stupid. He did not say that. He said ‘I am what I am’. Why is everything cartoons with you? Every time you read to me it’s the Berenstain Bears or Dr. Seuss. Why not some Hawthorne or James Joyce?”
“Oh, you want Joyce, you little bitch? Fine, you’ll get Joyce. And what about last night? I read you Sylvia last night?”
“Yeah, wonderful. Make me want to kill myself before bedtime. You want me dead, you evil freak!”
“All right, that’s it. Outside!”
She walked away. I thought about Lucy’s sudden Christianity. Has she always worshiped Christ? And what’s with the talking? This was one super-intelligent, spiritual, talking canine.
“No more scratching for you, Missy!”
There were two Dalmatians standing in our living room. My birthday presents. Wrapping them was surely unnecessary, but her heart was in the right place.
“You know,” I said, “I’m allergic to dog hair.”
“Oh,” she said. “I forgot.”
“And starry dust.”
“What’s starry dust?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “Dust that falls off of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. I just know I’m allergic to it.”
“But, they’re so cute.”
“The dogs or Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie?”
“All right,” I said. “Admittedly, they’re adorable. But when I drop dead, they’ll be adorable murderers, won’t they? Like Pamela Smart.”
“You sicko!” she went ballistic. “If you have such a thing for Pamela Smart, why don’t you marry her? I want a divorce.”
“We’re not married.”
“Fine,” I said. “I’ll file the papers tomorrow.”
The dogs were eating the wrapping paper.
“Mom,” I said. “Is Dad awake yet?”
“A white dog,” my sister said.
“Sweetie,” my mother replied. “That’s no way to talk about the man you’re going to marry.”
“No, Mom. He’s a white dog, an albino German Shepherd.”
My mother fainted. She was very accepting of Patricia marrying someone the family hadn’t met. She never thought to ask if he was of the same species. My father, never the sharpest knife in the drawer, was okay with her marrying a foreigner, but drew the line at Germans. He would not have any Hitler Youth in his family, let alone one whose skin is freakishly white and whose job included cleaning up after sheep all day. The next few months at our house were not pleasant. Patricia called the whole family a bunch of speciesists and left home, the neighbors caught wind of the engagement and started pelting the house with Kibbles ’N Bits and Snausages, and my brother, who always had something of a rivalry with Patricia, became engaged to a Butterball turkey. Patricia and her canine fiancé eloped to Las Vegas and were wed in a lovely ceremony performed by a Mae West impersonator. Sadly, after the wedding, Patricia’s new husband was eaten by tigers at a Wayne Newton performance.
This tragic occurrence made me think of family, and how petty differences should never come between loved ones. My parents and I never met my sister’s love. My mother refused and my father would only confuse Patricia’s white dog with the six-foot white rabbit he usually sees. She never forgave us. Years later I would think about Patricia, and Tex and Sadie and Squeaky and Atticus. I would think of a lot of people, really. Then I’d get hungry and have a sandwich. Then I’d think of square dancing.
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