Full disclosure: I’m not a pet lover.
I had two pets as a child and both were scarring experiences.
I had a canary that we kept in our kitchen. When we went to see my grandparents in Florida over the Christmas vacation, we asked a neighbor to take care of the canary. When we returned home, my mother was carrying the cage, slipped on the steps of the house, the cage door opened, and the canary flew away. End of the bird.
A few years later, a friend gave me a kitten. Evidently the kitten disliked my mother and would scratch her legs while I was at school. One day I came home and the kitten was gone. “I gave the kitten to the butcher,” my mother told me. She said the kitten would catch mice but that was the day I gave up meat and became a vegetarian.
When my boys were small they begged me for a dog as all children are supposed to do. I hemmed and hawed and finally broke down. I told them we needed to find a dog that would fit our family’s psychological profile. (I kid you not.) I called a few veterinarians in the area and told them about my family. I emphasized that I didn’t like to be licked.
All of the vets told me not to get a dog.
I tell you this because most of my friends have “humanized” their dogs. Their dogs wear sweaters. Their dogs go to play group. Their dogs eat organic. Their dogs have dog sitters so they can go out to dinner. Their dogs cry real tears if they’ve lost their dog binky.
For years, I listened empathetically when they talked about their dog’s family of origin, fear of the dark, and gastrointestinal tract problems. My own brother remained in his house during an eight day power blackout because he couldn’t leave his dog. I admired his fidelity but I did wonder how he and wife managed to sleep without heat.
That brings me to my car.
A couple of months ago I purchased a car. I gave her a name. I called her “Mabel.” Even the guy who sold me the car referred to her as “Mabel” when he sent me an email to see how Mabel and I were getting along.
I never parked Mabel in a parking lot. I would circle the block until I found a spot on the street. If I went to the supermarket, I would park far, far away, and hike over to the store. Mabel was always dirty because the car salesman told me not to take her to a regular car wash. “Only a hand car wash.” There are no hand car washes in the area so I washed her myself. I bought a shammy and kept it in the car so I could wipe her down if it rained while I was at work.
When it did rain, I would fret about acid rain. I parked her in the shade. I took the train to the city rather than drive because I didn’t want to put Mabel in the train parking lot or a garage. My life was getting smaller and smaller because I had humanized my car.
This week I hit another car while waiting at a red light. The other car wasn’t damaged but Mabel is a wreck. She needs work. Forget Botox and Restylane — I’m talking about a face-lift and a tummy tuck. In a way, I’m glad she’ll be in the collision shop for a few weeks. I could use the break.