We've had our greyhound, Bean, for a year now. Every day he grows in wisdom and grace. He is a good dog, eager to please and eager to learn. We have begun to engage one another in conversation with some frequency. He seems to enjoy our little talks, and I find, as his powers of observation grow, so do I. Here is one such exchange.
BEAN: Have you ever tried to sort out the neighbor's bitches?
ME: We call them women.
BEAN: I know you do, usually, but I think your neighbor's women are probably bitches.
ME: What makes you say that?
BEAN: Well, for one thing, he calls them bitches when he is talking to the friends that he calls dogs. You know the ones I mean. They drive cars with big shiny rims that I like to pee on when no one is looking. None of these dog friends ever talk about women...only bitches. They stand around smoking the cigarettes, looking at their cars, and talking about bitches. Then they throw their cigarettes on the ground, and drive away in a pack. I like these guys. I think they all would like to be dogs. I think that shows good taste even though they all have to use their forepaws to hold up their pants.
ME: You may have a point.
BEAN: Anyway, have you been able to sort them out, the bitches I mean. Because I don't understand them. They confuse me.
ME: Well women can be like that sometimes. Aren't you glad you live over here where it's easier to figure out.
BEAN: I do like it over here. Everybody over here knows their place. It's me, then you, then Sandy, then Mommy. Mommy's not so good when you're not here. Sometimes she forgets her place, but since you're here almost all the time, it hasn't been much of a problem.
ME: One of the benefits of me not having a job I suppose.
BEAN: What is job?
ME: A job is where you go someplace else and do stuff that somebody else tells you to do.
BEAN: Why would you do that?
ME: Well every couple of weeks they give you treats for doing it.
BEAN: Is it the good treats? The chewy ones that taste like the stuff the cats leave in the sand box?
ME: No, not really. I guess you would say that the job treats are not that good.
BEAN: I don't think I would like this job then. We should talk more about this later. Right now I want to finish sorting out the bitches.
ME: Okay. Tell me what it is that confuses you, and I will try to help you sort it out.
BEAN: Well the neighbor has the two bitches, just like you, only they both walk around on their hind legs like Mommy instead of on all four legs like Sandy, so it's harder to figure out who is alpha. It would be good to see them together. If I could see how they interact when they are together, I would know how they rank in the pack. They are never together though. Sometimes the skinny one with the face like a doberman with worms is there, and sometimes the bouncy one with the pictures on her legs is there, but they are never there at the same time. I can't figure out how they arrange to never be there at the same time. It is a mystery.
ME: Well, Bean, I have to say that I have noticed the same thing.
BEAN: It is almost like magic. The skinny one will be there for three or four weeks, and then one day she will get in the round car and drive away, and then five minutes later the bouncy bitch will come up the driveway in her square car and she will stay for a week. Then, as soon as the bouncy one leaves the other bitch comes back. They don't miss each other by much, but they always miss. I think that maybe these bitches cannot get along with each other like Mommy and Sandy, so the neighbor has to keep them apart. I don't know how he does it though.
ME: I'm not sure how he does it either, my friend, but I think maybe it has something to do with his cell phone.
BEAN: What is cell phone?
ME: A cell phone is that little box that he holds up to his ear when he is standing in his driveway and it seems as though he is talking to himself. He is actually talking into the cell phone, and someone someplace else can hear what he is saying and can talk back to him.
BEAN: I have seen him do that often. It is a relief to know that he is not talking to himself. I was beginning to worry about him. I thought that maybe not knowing when his bitches were coming and going was making him a little mad.
ME: I can see where you might think that.
BEAN: That still doesn't sort out his bitches though. Why do you think they behave in this strange manner?
ME: Well here is what I think, but I am only guessing. I would ask him, but in addition to the cell phone and the car with the big rims he also has some guns, so I don't want to sniff around in his business until he lets me know that it is okay, if you know what I mean. I think the bitch that looks like a doberman with worms is the wife bitch, and the one that bounces is the girlfriend bitch, and that the neighbor uses his cell phone to manage his bitch's comings and goings because if they are in the same place together they will tear each other to bits.
BEAN: Why doesn't he just tell them to behave?
ME: Well the thing about wives and girlfriends is that they do not really behave like proper bitches, at least not when they are aware of one another. Wife and girlfriend bitches are more like cats. They are very difficult to manage.
BEAN: If not impossible. Thank you. That really clears things up.
ME: You are welcome.
BEAN: Do you think that I could have one of these cell phones? I would like to be able to manage Mommy better when you are gone. It seems like a cell phone could be very useful in this regard since the neighbor is able to use his to make what seems like magic.
ME: Well first I think you need to understand that having a cell phone is a lot like chasing your tail. It seems like a good idea until you catch it. When you have a cell phone you can tell people what to do, sure, but you also have to listen to them when they talk to you.
BEAN: Do you mean that Mommy would be talking into the cell phone from someplace else, and I would have to listen to her?
BEAN: Well...never mind then.