What I really wanted was a dog.
And I wanted a leash.
I wanted a dog and a leash.
So that I could take that dog for a walk.
I was fifteen years old and in my opinion at the time, halfway to middle age, when that dream came true.
But it wasn’t my dream alone.
There were eight of us jammed into the cracker box house on the corner. Six of the eight happened to be offspring. And we offspring all wanted a dog. Even the baby. But we also enjoyed eating. So I suppose it would have been hard for my parents to choose which one of us would have to go without breakfast in order to take on another mouth to feed. And we might not get that second book read to us before bedtime with another creature looking for attention at the same time.
My guess is these were the reasons that the answer was always, “No dog.”
At least my parents tried to suffice.
They did what they could with a limited budget and limited space.
Calvin, my older brother came home from the pet store with a couple of tiny turtles.
We tried to convince those turtles to have races across the living room carpet. But they weren’t really that interested in it. They were turtles. Except for the one named Speedy. Speedy could have won every race handily, if he would have ever run in a straight line.
It was exasperating.
It was before Nafta and it was back when vertical blinds were popular.
I know this because I worked in manufacturing, packing vertical blinds.
And we were busy.
We were so busy that my department was on mandatory overtime.
I don’t know about you, but I find the word mandatory to be abrasive. And if you put an abrasive word like mandatory in front of another disturbing word like overtime, and both of those words are referring to your life, it is not good.
Maybe it was that story about the sterling silver rat earrings that Sven gave me as a gift that did it.
Or it could have been the one about the surprise Christmas bowling ball.
Or possibly it was the ear wax removal kit that was wrapped and under the tree that I happened to tell the world about that pushed him over the edge.
Whatever the case, when I turned the big six-oh, in March, my sweet Sven had a surprise for me.
“What is it?” I said, looking at two fancy red ribbons tied into two fancy red bows on two beige and red glossy cardboard envelopes.
“It is what you love,” he says. I got you two, so you can take a friend.”
“Pedicures?” I said.
“This is for two pedicures?” I say.
“Millie what is it that you love?”
“No. You love massages.”
You might not guess that I am a bird watcher at first glance, because I don’t wear binoculars around my neck like Miss Jane on The Beverly Hillbillies.
But that is only because binoculars make me nauseous, unless they are hanging around my neck. But if I look through the holes and try to focus I have to close one eye, which takes the bi right out of the word.
Then they are just noculars.
And noculars are shitty for looking at birds.
Or anything, really.
And secondly, even if binoculars are just hanging around my neck, not making me nauseous, they are not my style.