My mother is convinced that I hate dogs–or pretends she is convinced so she can annoy me–and mentions this non-fact every time I, ironically, say something pleasant about the little furry buggers.
“I thought you hated dogs,” she’ll say, blithely unconcerned that no such evidence for this belief exists.
“For the bajillionth time,” I will say, with great exasperation, “I like dogs just fine. I just don’t WANT one.”
Of course, I also, according to my mother, hate babies. Because, again, I do not WANT one, and am at a bit of a loss about what conversational topic might appeal to them. I have been unable to interest babies in politics, music or books thus far, and after these conversational gambits fail, we blink at each other a lot, and I’m reduced to saying something inane like “cootchy-coo.”
“I thought you hated babies,” my mom will say, should I ever make a positive comment about one, and for this statement she at least has a small amount of “evidence” at hand. I never played with baby dolls, cooed over babies, or came home from babysitting a-flush with girlish dreams of popping out my very own mini-Me.
“For the bajillionth time,” I will say, with great resignation, “I like babies just fine. I just don’t WANT one. And I prefer them when they haven’t offloaded used food into their britches, and when they are asleep. Other than that, babies are awesome.”
Clearly, what I dislike is responsibility and neediness. Not dogs and babies.
I am fairly good at speaking Cat and Ferret (not that ferrets are particularly vocal, mind you). Moreso Cat. Not just LolCat, which is an annoying recent habit I’ve picked up thanks to Grumpy Cat and LimeCat et al and Can Haz Cheezburger and Internet poisoning in general, but actual Cat.
When I was small, and not very old, we lived next door to the P—s. They were a childfree couple, as far as I know, who, instead of breeding and having lots of kids, collected a large quantity of Siamese cats. Though Siamese tend to resemble each other greatly, especially when swarming around you in a tide of yowl, I think I finally determined there were eight in all. Maybe ten. They were all big, lazy, brown-pointed meezers with the distinctive Siamese voice (nails on blackboard, but still endearing, if you like cats, which I most emphatically did and do).
In addition to the Mob O’ Meezers, there was a long-haired mutt cat who used to beat up on our cat, Socks, who was a marsh cat, and only Siamese from the knees up. Socks was the Most Awesome Cat Ever, and when the neighbors’ mutt cat bit a chunk out of the base of her tail, she endured the indignity with stoicism. Poor kitty. She was small, had a white chin, bib and toes, and a sweet kitten voice. She was also very aware that she’d been rescued and had it damn good in our household. A nicer cat you could not wish for.
Socks was named after the Beverly Cleary book. We also had a beagle, who I wanted to call Ribsy, because I was seven years old when we got her and I thought that would be awesome. Had I won this battle, it would have been the most ironic name ever, because Brandy (the unoriginal name the dog was eventually saddled with) eventually resembled a spotted barrel perched atop toothpicks. Also? There were bricks and potatoes smarter than this dog.
Those poor cats. I was relentless in my attempts to befriend them. They’d be taking a nice kitty kip under the Pitts’ car, and I’d lie on the driveway and carefully drag one out to cuddle it. If it was sufficiently stuporous, it would allow this without complaint. Eventually the cats all gave up and resigned themselves to being loved within an inch of their lives, and even seemed to enjoy it. All but the bastard fluffy one of unknown heritage.
Those cats taught me how to speak Cat, though, and the skill has never deserted me. Not only do I understand Cat body language and behavior (especially “fuck off, I’m trying to take a nap, yo!”), but also the various Cat vocalizations. Alas, my accent is Siamese. So it goes.
Mrp — Howdy!
Prow? — How goes it?
Mew — I are tiny kitten.
Meyow — Hey!
Myow — Oh, you again.
Murt — That feels nice
Prrrr — More of the same, please
Rrrr — Not there.
Hreee! — I see my mortal enemy
MrrrrrEEEEEOOOOOOW! — Me so horny
Meh — Hungry
MEH yeh — I’m not kidding, I haven’t eaten for yonks
RAHR? — I have no opposable thumbs, please open that can for me
Eh YAO, Eh YAO — Front desk calling, this is your wake up call
Fffft! — Come closer and you’ll draw back a nub
Hhhhhrawr — For serious. I will bite you.
Grummm grummm — Makin’ biscuits, v. v. busy.
Moo? — I are tiny cow.
Prrrp! — I am about to race up and down the stairs for no apparent reason.
Mummmm, mummmmm — I love you, man.
Miaou — Hey guys, what’s going on in this thread?
Meow — Pay attention to me
Roop?— Is that for me?
Mao — Workers unite!
Wow wow — I am on the wrong side of the door. Both sides of the door are always wrong.
Mmmrrgggl — I have a mouth full of dead lizard. Is a present. For you.
Mwah? MWAH?! Mwah! — Where is everyone?
Meringue — When come back, bring pie.
Vrrrrrrrr + *butt elevator* — A little lower, a little to the left, oh YEAH, that’s the spot
*headbutt* — I dub thee my number one human, and you better damn well be honored.
And so on. I can speak Cat well enough to actually fool cats and hold conversations with them. I am sure my grammar and pronunciation are both atrocious, however.
I don’t speak Dog well. At all. I understand Dog body language, and would never need Cesar Milan to come straighten out any dog I owned, because any dogs I’ve had contact with know damn well who is the leader of the pack and where the dog potty is located and that jumping up on people, especially people in expensive silk stockings on their way out the door to work or a date, is a big no-no. But I don’t *speak* Dog.
Furthermore, there are types of dogs I like more than other types.
1. Wolfy dogs with pointy ears.
2. Snouter pups without mushed-in faces
3. Curly tail dogs
4. Brown dogs
5. Smooth coat dogs
6. Smart dogs who smile
7. Pugs. I don’t know why.
8. Dogs that do not stick their noses in your personal spaces.
9. Spayed and neutered dogs that don’t hump crap and bleed on stuff
10. Labs and goldens. These are just awesome dogs, even if their ears are all floppy and hangy-downy.
1. Drooly mush-face dogs, because DOG SPIT is the nastiest fluid known to humankind. Fear Factor should have used dog drool as an ingredient on their show.
2. Dogs the size of Volkswagons who lunge
3. Dogs with coats that need more attention than my own hair gets
4. Bitey dogs, because, OW. And rabies.
5. Yappy dogs, who won’t ever shut the fuck up
6. Moppy dogs, who only need a handle to actually be useful
7. Wee-wee piddle-poo dogs who won’t go outside to go, the nasty little bastards
8. Dogs that don’t have black or brown eyes. It makes no sense, I know.
9. Dogs that eat every damn thing, be it people food, carpets, cat poops, house siding, table legs, pants, underwear, used feminine hygeine products, garbage, tin foil, crayons, markers, Barbies, Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, doors, bowls, rocks, shoes, linoleum…like Brandy, who ate all of these things except the siding. My friend Lake’s hound was the one that ate siding.
10. Dogs that shiver nervously and look sad all the time
Mostly, the dogs I like are Other People’s Dogs. I can visit the dogs, proclaim them to be truly Awesome, but not have to train, walk or pay the vet bills for them. This suits me just fine.
But no, I don’t hate dogs. Dogs rock. I just don’t WANT one. Can I borrow yours for an hour or two? That would suit me fine.
But I am not throwing that disgusting spittle-soaked tennis ball back to them. Sorry. Ew.
I feel pressured when something loves me unconditionally, won’t leave me alone, and can’t entertain itself without my participation. This applies to relationships, too, though I have been known to pick significant others who can’t love anyone but themselves at all, don’t call ever, and can entertain themselves just fine for months on end, at which point they suddenly recall I might still exist and be good for a laugh and a pleasant night out. I know there is a middle ground.
Babies make me a wee bit nervous. I’m good with them and they like me, and I’m not going to drop them on their heads or anything, but babies are prone to erupt with sticky fluids out of every orifice, and they tend to do so unexpectedly, and I’m one of those people who magically never spill things on themselves because I am so averse to personal filth. If you hand me a baby, I am pretty sure I am going to get biological fluids on me at some point, and this makes me very antsy and unhappy.
Babies also have no appreciation of a good guitar riff.
Babies like repetition and familiarity, and I would go out of my mind reading the same Dr Seuss book over and over four bajillion times. If I liked that sort of thing, and wasn’t fairly certain it would outlive me by several decades, I’d get a parrot. And you know what? I happen to LIKE Dr. Seuss! I just bought the niece a huge Seuss book with about a hundred Seuss stories all mushed up into one volume. It is a nice thing. I just don’t want to memorize it. I suspect for every Seuss book I learned by rote that I would forget something more important, like my telephone number or some Romantic poet poems or how to make scrambled eggs.
Babies do not speak English. They speak Baby, and it all sounds pretty much the same.
WAH! — I’m hungry
WAH! — I’m no longer hungry
WAH! — I’m thirsty
WAH! — I need to belch
WAH! — I need a change
WAH! — I’m tired
WAH! — I’m not tired anymore
WAH! — Fuck you, bub
WAH! — Hey guys, what’s going on in this thread?
WAH! — Where is everyone? Hello?
WAH! — Some idiot stuck me with a diaper pin, even though no one actually uses pinned nappies any more
WAH! — You won’t let me eat dead moths
WAH! — You let me eat a dead moth and it tasted gross
WAH! — Leave me alone
WAH! — Pay attention to me
WAH! — Phone’s ringing, go get it
WAH! — What kind of idiot sleeps at 2 AM? Entertain me!
WAH! — Hey, it’s 4 AM. Cool!
WAH! — And now it’s 6 AM. Awesome!
WAH! — You’re mom, I want dad
WAH! — You’re dad, I want mom
WAH! — Who the hell are you? Do I know you? Do I like you?
WAH! — I forgot what I was crying about, but what the hell
WAH! — I would like to discuss Amway with you
WAH! — I disapprove of this culinary nightmare you are forcing on me
WAH! — This is a hella fugly outfit, and I will not put up with it
WAH! — I’m cold
WAH! — I’m hot
WAH! — Previously, everything was satisfactory.
WAH! — Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior?
WAH! — Who farted?
WAH! — I have been quiet for a whole half hour, and felt the need to remind you that I still exist
WAH! — Is this mic on?
WAH! — I am not fond of strained beets
WAH! — My bum is chapped
WAH! — The babysitter is the Devil
WAH! — That bald man is the Devil
WAH! — Santa Claus is the Devil
WAH! — I’m overwhelmed
WAH! — I am training to be an opera singer when I grow up
WAH! — This room has great acoustics
WAH! — I am cutting a tooth
And so on.
I don’t speak Baby, so I end up running back and forth trying fourteen different things to make the baby stop saying WAH! at me, and, if I am lucky, one works. Babies also have no sense of self-preservation, so keeping them from licking the outlets and drinking Drano can be a full-time job. It makes me nervous, and I probably look like one of those Hindu gods that have arms popping out all over while I’m trying to Make The WAH! Stop.
But I already said that.
Even so, Babies love the heck out of me. They are like cats in this way. Cats always gravitate to the person in the room who has the least amount of interest in befriending or touching them, and do everything but drop a Roofie in your drink to make you warm up to their magnificence. Likewise, Babies and me. The fact that I am not instantly charmed makes them determined to be as Cute and Adorable as possible. They pull out all the big guns in their personal armory to win me over. They smile, try to rub their gooey, boogery hands on me, wave, play peek-a-boo, flirt, giggle, bat their baby eyelashes, coo, and do various other extremely cute Baby things that would make every other woman’s uterus contract with acute Baby Lust pangs. Not me. My uterus is not impressed.
They sure are cute, though.
In truth, it is the rude sprog wranglers that I truly dislike. The Baby can’t help it if it can only say WAH!, but the parent(s), caregiver(s) and / or grandparent(s) can make sure it says WAH! somewhere other than a restaurant, theater, shopping mall, art gallery, museum, movie or (yes, I’ve witnessed this) a bar. Since I empathize and know that it often takes a while to figure out what the Baby wants, and whether the Baby can even HAVE what it wants, all I ask is that unhappy Babies be taken outside until you parse what the Baby wants and make it happy again.
Please don’t make me dislike your child because you can’t be arsed to remove it when it starts screeching WAH!
Also, don’t be a filth pig and change your child’s diaper on a dining table in a restaurant, or in a dressing room, and leave the manky nappy just lying there. That is grody. I don’t want to see or smell poo when I go out to eat. Is that too much to ask?
I’m even not getting into “Lactivism”. Really. No. Do I enjoy having to carry on a conversation with a stranger who has a baby attached to her boob? Not really. Do I enjoy sitting in a restaurant when there’s breastfeeding going on two feet away from me? Meh, not really bothered, but maybe it could be kept more discreet in fancier places. Do I want to get forty-two comments on how natural it is and how it should be done however, wherever and whenever the boob owner wants? I most emphatically do not. So, nurse on, Lactivists.