The Surly Snuffle of a Highfalutin’ Dog
By Florence the Dog of READ Books
The first thing about being a bookstore dog, most of our significant literary discussions commence with the ostensibly simple act of sniffing another dog’s butt. Sure we don’t have to, but neglecting to do so, well sir, the results can be disastrous. Or even worse, tedious! You never know when some screwy pooch might stray into the store with Dr. Phil on his mind, or perhaps that peculiar thrift store mentality of $1 Grisham thrillers. A few of these dogs with whom I have incautiously engaged in conversation couldn’t give a lick about literature. Some of them— get this— some of them are merely “enjoying a walk” with their bipeds. You never know. Except I do know! I have a nose! All I have to do, in order to get a clear picture of your canines’ literary dispositions, is stick this nose of mine approximately half an inch up their anal glands. Sometimes a quarter-inch won’t do.
Like the time that strapping young Wolf Hound sauntered in off the street, looking as if he owned the lavish leash that allegedly constrained his shaggy manliness; it wasn’t difficult to imagine that this Irish hunk was walking his biped, and not the other way around. Sure I wanted to take a whiff, but that tingly yearning rendered me indecisive; was this purely business or a joy inhalation? Diffidently, I performed a quarter-inch penetration snuffle and detected vague scents of rebellion & alienation. The ladder interested me more than the former.
“Read any good Russians lately?” I barked with false bravado.
The big galoot shrugged his broad shoulders. “Well of course I read all the important Ruskies during my formative years,” he barked lowly. “But lately I’ve been enamored with Wittgenstein and the aspect thusly employed through his imagined interlocutor.”
“A sound postulation,” said I wagging my tail. “But do you ever find yourself struggling with his penchant toward anti-cratylism.” Huh? What the hell does that mean? Those were real words I barked, but strung together I wasn’t so sure if they formed a real sentence. Was I trying too hard to impress this beguiling genius? Down girl! “Uh, but maybe,” I backpedaled, “that’s a faulty parallelism.”
“Isn’t that adorable?” gushed the biped at the other end of my real interlocutor’s leash. “I mean the way they’re woofing at each other?”
Adorable? Woofing? Zip it lady biped, I wanted to bark at her, there are adults barking here! I looked to my biped for intervention, but he merely muttered something or another that even a dog cannot hear and then pretended to read a book. The schmuck. I turned back to my Wolf Hound, feeling emboldened. Nothing I barked could possibly be half as dull-witted as the nonsense dribbling from the mouths of your average biped.
“Your tail end possesses a faint scent of alienation,” I barked. “Existentialism?”
“Perhaps that was Kerouac you smelled,” barked he.
See? I should have sniffed deeper. “That’s not alienation,” I barked, cocking my head.
“Sure it is,” he whimpered. “That biped was all sorts of alienated.”
“That biped played football,” I growled. “With other bipeds! Would you play catch with a whole team of Wolf Hounds?”
“Sure I would!”
“Then you’re not alienated!”
“Florence,” my biped stood up, “What’s wrong, girl?”
“What’s wrong?” I barked. “Are you deaf, biped? Get this Wolf Hound a copy of “Nausea” before it’s too late!”
“Bad girl! Sit!”
“Stupid biped! Stand!”
The Wolf Hound plopped onto the cold floor and rolled over.
“My poor baby,” cried the lady biped, desperately shaking the leash so that it undulated down toward her whimpering mess of a Wolf Hound. “Don’t be scared of the little bookstore dog. She’s just playing (turning to me) aren’t you sweetie?”
“Flo don’t play!” I howled.
Every decent story, me thinks, should contain some sort of moral or theme. If we haven’t learned anything in the telling and the reading, then who cares? My lesson? Perhaps I shouldn’t be such a pretentious, hifalutin’ dog. Just because I don’t enjoy a particular author doesn’t mean I need to get aggravated every time some goofy hound “thinks” otherwise. I’m sure there are some learned mutts out there who could justifiably find fault with my taste. Hell, some of my best friends read Kerouac. (That might be a lie). Or maybe bipeds shouldn’t take offense when a couple of ruminative pooches decide to engage in dialectics about literature. What’s the harm in a little barking when ideas conflict? Must I “sit” every time I feel inclined to raise my voice? Is it so difficult for bipeds to disagree yet remain friends?
I’ll tell you the second thing about bookstore dogs: Next time big ol’ Wolf Hound saunters into my store, we will greet one another harmoniously, meeting beneath the shadow of a book rack to share in the customary sniffing of the butts.
(This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of NELA News)