I got played with more when I was on the shelf at Target. Toddlers would pick me up and whack me against the other toys until their mommies forcibly extracted me from their tiny vice grip fingers. They’d say “that’s not for babies” and then smear more Germ-X on their miniature hands. Those were the good old days, “the before-time”, as I like to call it. Then I got stuck with you. When we first met, you didn’t even give me the sniff test or the slobbery-tongued lick test you enjoying giving to finer objects like the laundry room floor and the concrete slab on the back patio. No, you just cocked your scruffy head at me, trying to be all cute and then looked at your owners—no, I’m sorry, I forgot we’re all PC now and you call them “human companions”—like what is this rubbish? and pranced away with your shiny black nose up in the air and your long prissy tail fur all fanned out, swaying meticulously with each calculated stride.
As undignified as it is, my life’s purpose is to be covered with your nasty droolies, get batted around like a kitten’s ball of string, and be shaken until my stuffing brains burst through their flimsy seams. It is not to lie unplayed with in the same spot, day after day, until it’s time to vacuum. They bought me to help you deal with your sissypants separation anxiety. I was supposed to be the friend you got to play with while mommy and daddy were at work all day. After they finally accepted that you weren’t interested, they didn’t even bother to put me up on the fridge, where the view is better and the air cooler, when they came home. From up there, I could see you in the backyard whenever one of the real life versions of me decided to cheat death and cut through the lawn to the Bellefontaine Nursery across the street, where they have all the unshelved 20-pound sacks of birdseed stacked up in the parking lot.
I don’t blame the real chipmunks. It’s like taking candy from a baby, and it’s not like they can’t outrun you, fatty. Yeah, I know all about the eight pounds you gained last year. Eight more and you’re in the pricier tier of pet meds. That’s why they want you in the back yard where you can get some exercise chasing the real me’s. It’s like someone puts speed in your kibble. And yet, just because I don’t have the inner architecture for locomoting through the house, you won’t even give me the time of day. Hello? We have the same tail, the same stripes, the same beautiful snowy white belly. Who needs motion when you’ve got a squeaker?
Oh, that’s right. You probably didn’t even remember that I had a squeaker. You spend too much time playing with your other friend, that filthy, ratty old penguin Mr. Tuxedo. He’s told me his side of the story. He was the twelfth stuffed animal penguin Christmas gift from your Grandhuman, given to you so she’d get the hint that your mommy didn’t want penguin paraphernalia as gifts anymore. How come he gets the cool name, and I get stuck with the unimaginative moniker “Chip Monk”? He certainly doesn’t have a squeaker. I am an American Kennel Club 100% polyester faux fur canine companion. My label even reads perfect for dogs. Harrumph. Perfect for normal dogs.
Then again, you’re the dog who didn’t even like the Kong. Oh yeah. Mr. Tuxedo told me all about it. When you don’t like the toy Dr. Mears recommends to all pet owners—sorry, human companions—there’s something objectively wrong with you. You’re like a kid that doesn’t like candy, a man that doesn’t like beer, a hardwood floor that doesn’t like Murphy’s Oil Soap. Ahem. Forgive my specificity on that last menu item. The living room floor and I have been spending a lot of time together. We really hit it off that first day your human companions left you home with me and Mr. Tuxedo, the day after you tried to eat your way through the door of your room and peed on the floor during that horrible thunderstorm. Yeah, Mr. Tuxedo told me about that, too. The floor got to look at my clean alabaster tummy all day long, because I was in the same all-fours position they put me in when they left for the day: poised for chasing, alert, ready to take on the world. You were supposed to love me.
It’s a good thing they leave the TV on for you because of your shelter dog separation anxiety. It gives me something to do while you play with Mr. Tuxedo in plain sight to make me jealous. I’m not jealous. Mr. Tuxedo thinks that maybe it’s my bad attitude that makes you less likely to play with me. I think Mr. Tuxedo got dropped on his head on that trip from the sweatshop to the Wal-Mart clearance aisle one too many times. That or his bow tie is cutting off circulation to his brain. Besides, I like watching that Jerry Springer. His final thoughts are really insightful. And I’m convinced that one of these days Brooke will remember that she and Ridge are soul mates and figure out that Taylor gave her amnesia and that Whit is not her real son. Yes, I know you’re more of a Y&R fan, you overgrown fleabag.
© Copyright 2010 Kelly I. Hitchcock. All rights reserved.
Kelly I. Hitchcock is a novelist, poet, and blogger from a poor stretch of the Ozarks in Southwest Missouri. A graduate of the creative writing program at Missouri State University, Kelly’s poems have been featured in Clackamas Literary Review and Foliate Oak Literary Journal. Her last story for this blog was “Ad Hominem.” She lives in Kansas City and is an avid volunteer and fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Learn more about the author and her work by visiting her website and following her on Twitter.