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Getting to know you (01/29/2012)
By Frances Edstrom


My sister is visiting, and she and the dog-who-must-not-be-written-about-the-second have been, let’s say, getting used to each other. At home, my sister has five cats. Cats (not kittens) are pretty quiet, some might say lazy. They eat, they sleep, they don’t need to be walked. The only time they’re any trouble is at night, when they take over your bed if you are too kindhearted to kick them out.

Dogs, on the other hand, are much more…oh, let’s say busy, just for the sake of not angering anyone…especially a dog that has not quite grown up. Say, like my dog.

I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but as I was trying to curl my hair (which didn’t want to curl so much as it wanted to fall out (chemo), I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation between the two of them, who were in the nearby den.

“Don’t you have anything to do but try to get me to throw this stupid ball for you?” my sister asked.

“Oh,” he said, “I thought you liked this game.”

“Like!” she said. “Where did you get that idea?”

“Well, you throw it,” he replied.

“I throw it because you demand it,” she said. “You drop the slimy thing on my lap, my computer, my book, my knitting…”

“You could always say no,” he said.

“But I do, time and time again,” she said. “You’re like those guys in high school who never stop asking for a date. You don’t accept ‘no’ for an answer. You just seem to think that ‘no’ means ‘maybe’ or even ‘yes’”

“Do you mean that you have actually said the N word? I think not, because I have never heard it. I would have certainly remembered that and honored the request,” he said, obviously affronted by her words.

“Believe me, buster,” she said, her voice painfully measured, “I have said ‘no’ so many times I think my mouth is going to stay in a permanent ‘o’ , just like my mother said it would.”

“That’s curious, isn’t it,” he said philosophically, “the phenomenon of people supposedly hearing exactly the same thing but remembering it differently. I apologize, if I must, and assure you that the next time you say ‘no’ I will not only hear you, but I will follow your direction.”

“Are you sure?” she asked.

“Cross my heart and hope to die,” he replied.

“Well, good. I’m glad we had this little talk and we are now on the same page,” she said, and went back to her knitting.

There was silence for a while except for the click of knitting needles.

“But what should I do?” he asked.

“Do you have a hobby?” she wanted to know.

“Sure! Playing ball.”

“N-O,” she spelled.

“I didn’t ask you to play ball, you are reading things into my very words,” he said. “What do your cats do?”

“They sleep.”

“I sleep,” he said.

“Not as much as they do,” she said. “They also play with the yarn I am using.”

“That’s a great idea,” he said, followed by muffled noise.

“Hey, you jerk,” she said. “You just ate the end of that ball of yarn! Stop it right now.”

Oh, oh, I thought, I better not go in there just yet.

“I was playing with it,” he barked. “Want to play ball?”

“No!” she said.

“Are you sure?” he asked. “Just a little while? Five throws? Make it two throws. A short throw. No one will ever know. It’ll be our little secret.”

“No!”she shouted again.

“Wow,” he said, “no need to have a hissy fit about it. I heard you. No it is. How about another bite of yarn?”

I thought I heard sobs coming from my sister.



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