I’ve always quite contentedly held the belief that having pets was absurd.
Animals weren’t made to wear sweaters or live in houses. They were the epitome of freedom and we’ve taken them and caged them to a life of domesticity. Were your dog released to the wild, it would whine and whither; your cat, crumple. We’ve taken these animals in and in doing so we’ve taken out their keen survival skills and pure, natural existence.
That said, I’m coming around.
I want a beaver.
Dogs are too dopey and cats too snobby. Horses are large and dangerous and fish are dull. All these animals, among the most popular pets, are expensive.
So again, I’ll say it: I want a beaver.
The other day my wife and I were out trading our hard-earned money for cheap junk from other people’s garages. People call this “garage sale shopping” but I call it pre-dumpster diving; it is slightly cleaner, but far more shameful. Am I really haggling over a chipped $.40 Precious Moments Figurine?
But there we were, driving around, looking for signs, and then sifting through junk at various homes in our area. How much for this rusted out tuba? Does the bird’s nest inside it come with it? $3! $3! You can take the tuba and shove it . . .
It was a depressing, rainy, junky day. Until I saw the one item I wanted.
Although it was in front of a garage, it wasn’t for sale. It had just scampered in front of our car to the house and looked at me inquisitively before ducking for cover. It was a beaver, and it was perfect.
He (it looked too rugged to be a she-beaver) was roly-poly. Though slight in stature, its pudginess forbade pity; no, it was shaped in a way to prompt one to tickle it, like one would a chubby baby. It had big round eyes, which stood black but soft against its grainy brown fur. Before he took to cover behind a bush, he gave me the slightest beaver smile and a little wink.
I slammed on the car’s brake to peruse the furry gentleman. My wife curiously busied herself looking about for a garage with junk brimming from it, thinking I halted for a sale and thus missing the true treasure of our quest. I pointed out “Barrington” (the name I chose for our four footed friend), who was still watching us from the cover of the bush.
“That’s a possum,” my wife chided.
It wasn’t. And I told her so.
“No,” she went on, “that is a possum.”
I drove on thinking of my friend and craving his company. He looked like such a stately beaver, too. He’d come over and I’d put a pot of coffee on as we recounted our days. I would never tell him what we’d been up to; no, he’d think that unseemly and petty, scrounging around people’s old stuff: “That’s a raccoon’s game,” he’d say judgingly. No, we’d talk dams and plans. That’s the thing about beavers, they are always thinking ahead; they are a species with vision, always looking out for the next branch to fit the puzzle of their work. At some point, after coffee probably, we’d take a little stroll, and after it, I’d tickle his portly tummy and give him some woodchips. He’d be our pet, but we wouldn’t be his master because he is a beaver and he can copiously handle himself.
I was still wondering about how I could attain a pet beaver when my wife broke in: “There’s one!”
I looked for Barington or a sibling or a cousin of his.
“Right there on the corner,” she said, “Ooo, they have some good stuff.”
We pulled to the garage sale she had been indicating.
“Do you spell possum with an ‘o’?” my wife queried as I parked the car.
“It wasn’t a opossum,” I said sadly. “It was a beaver.”
“Come on, let’s go!” she said with a squeeze of my hand.
I got up and moved on toward the sale, keeping a lookout for cheap items made of wood.