Now I’m not one much for keeping animals. I don’t mind them. I just don’t have the discipline to take care of them. So when Slippy the Wibble became obsessed with understanding pets, I wasn’t especially helpful.
I pulled out my couch cushions looking for the remote. “I can barely take care of myself, Slipper. Just look at this place.” The apartment we shared had partially full pizza boxes strewn around on the end tables, the ironing board, the book shelves, and the bath tub. Dirty clothes covered a third of the floor, dishes stacked up in the kitchen sink, and half full glasses of water perched everywhere.
The water glasses were more decor than mess. Ever since Slippy saw the movie ‘Signs’ with Mel Gibson, he thought it was hysterical to put them all over the place. He propped a few baseball bats in corners around the house.
“Call in Georgetta,” said Slippy.
You remember Georgetta? The cute Black girl he appointed as the Wibblerian ambassador to the mother ship? It wound up causing a great stir because normally the president would name such an ambassador, and Slippy would have nothing of it. The president caved when the alien threatened to endorse a cow as a superior candidate in the next election.
I suspected Slippy had a secret crush on Georgetta. As much as a giant prune on four wormy legs can, anyway.
“Georgetta’s got meetings at the UN,” I said.
“Why would she do that?” asked Slippy.
“The president ordered her there.” Having failed to find the remote—I secretly suspected Slippy of hiding it—I fished around the pizza boxes for a snack.
“Pish posh,” said Slippy.
That was his new favorite expression. I used it once on a journalist who said extraterrestrials had an obligation to weigh in on who was sexier—Cumberbatch or Bieber. Ever since it’s been ‘pish posh’ this, and ‘pish posh’ that.
“Rescue the poor girl to help us,” said Slippy.
Now Slippy has struggled immensely with our notions of currency, but when he found out we usually had to pay to get a pet, he flew into a rage. I mean the pizza boxes were flying. Once Georgetta arrived and we got him calmed down, we looked up the various pounds in the area.
“A dog ain’t gonna work,” said Georgetta. “They’re going to either eat him or hide under the bed.”
“Impossible,” I said. “That’s where I throw all the doughnut boxes.”
Georgetta grabbed my ear and twisted it down to her level, then bopped me on the head.
“Besides,” she said. “I don’t see him walking a dog every day. Maybe a cat.”
We took him to the animal shelter, and they brought out several cats for him to acquaint himself with. He seemed to do well with them. One of them hopped up on his deflated-beachball middle and nestled next to one of his tentacles, purring and licking its paw.
As Georgetta explained the cleaning of cat boxes and everyday feeding, Slippy became more resistant. When a manx attacked one of his worm-legs, he let out a hiss that would make Lovecraft proud. The cats scattered to the corners of the room and caterwauled until the employees took them away.
Slippy twisted the worm the cat had bitten one way then the other. “Do I understand correctly? When humans have a pet, they take an animal out of it’s natural environment, deprive it of it’s natural nourishment only to supply it with mass produced nourishment, continuously clean up its excrement, and expend much time and energy toward handling them for no practical benefit.”
“Yeah,” said Georgetta. “You got it, handsome.”
“I don’t understand.”
I led them out of the shelter. “It’s very difficult to make friends with them if you don’t.”
Slippy gimped on the bitten worm, but I thought he was milking it for the alien equivalent of sympathy. “How can you befriend a non-sentient?” he asked.
I laughed. “You spend a lot of time making them live a lot like you do. It’s important to find one that’s suitable to you. To your personality and disposition.”
For several days Slippy seemed especially thoughtful and didn’t say much. He does that from time to time, like when I first told him about Pampered Chef parties.
I feverishly rifled through the piles of crap in my apartment, looking for enough change for the ice cream truck. Discovery Channel was on the TV, David Bowie on the stereo, and Dak Prescott on Georgetta’s lap. Don’t be surprised—lots of celebrities try to come by to meet the extraterrestrial. Once he was in the door, Georgetta would not let him go.
I had a handful of lint and candy wrappers pulled from some sweatpants when Slippy danced a little jig and pointed a worm at the TV. Discovery channel played a documentary on octopuseses, and a purplish brown one moved along the ocean floor.
Slippy flicked a couple worms. “I’ll give one of those a try.”