For Penny Tangey*
A girl walks into a pet shop,
and says to the guy behind the counter,
‘Just the usual thanks.’
He stares at her, slightly panicked.
He can’t tell if she’s serious.
she gazes at him for a long time.
‘Don’t worry,’ she says. ‘It’s a joke.’
He can't help feeling he has let her down in some way.
She lingers for a long time at the 'oodle cage,
and the dogs act like they know her,
some walk on two legs,
She says, ‘I have another joke.’
He says, ‘I don’t like jokes’
but not loud enough for her to hear.
She says, ‘What’s the difference between a duck?’
When she doesn’t say anything,
he’s forced to say, ‘What?’
The puppies tumble over each other,
rubbing against the cage, purring like kittens.
She stands up, walks over to the counter.
The puppies whine.
‘One leg is both the same,’ she says.
He frowns, thinking about it,
he’s about to ask her to explain it,
but she is already gone.
The puppies are bereft,
they sleep all afternoon,
and at the end of the day,
though it’s against the rules,
he takes one of them home,
a Groodle he temporarily names Ernest.
He tells his housemates about the girl,
holding the puppy on his lap,
and they have lots of questions, like
‘Was she wearing glasses?’
‘Did she have red hair?’
‘Did she have a big nose?’
and he says, ‘well I guess
that’s a matter of opinion.’
And then they start asking different questions, like
‘Would she take a long time to choose a video in a rental store?’
And ‘If she was a celebrity, would she release a perfume?
And would she name it after herself?’
And he says ‘listen,
she was the kind of girl who’d walk into a pet shop
and say, just the usual thanks.'
He lets Ernest sleep on his bed
and the next day, takes him back to the store.