"Getting a Dog"
“Now that we’re buying a house and getting married people have been asking if we’re going to get a dog,” she said. They were in the car on their way to the next town over to meet some friends for drinks and perhaps eventually dinner. The traffic they sat in was the kind that required constant attention to the road, but he stole a glance at her nonetheless. He knew her well but he wanted to see if her expression belied amusement or a hint at metaphor. She gave nothing away, however, as she gazed out the window at the pedestrian jay walking.
“Watch out,” was all she said as he spiked the brakes.
“So anyway, isn’t that funny? I mean, just because we’re getting married and buying a house doesn’t mean I want to start rearranging my life for a dog or pick up its poop in plastic New York Times bags or anything.” She clearly wanted a response, he felt. An un-huh. An audible nod of agreement. She turned up the volume a bit to hear the college station to which he had tuned the radio out of habit when they first pulled out of the driveway. It was an old Willie Nelson song.
Finally he said, “Yeah, I don’t want a dog either. They’re too much work and we’re both so busy.”
She jumped in to agree, “I mean, maybe some day I’ll want a dog. Just not now, you know?”
“Let’s just cross that dog crate when we get to it.” He was trying to make a joke.
“What do you mean ‘when we get to it’? It’s not like a dog will just happen in to our lives? We would have to plan for it. You know that right?”
He knew it. He had said the wrong thing again. Why were they even talking about dogs? They both said they didn’t want one right now. Wasn’t that supposed to be the end of the conversation?
“No, I just meant that when we are both able and willing to devote our lives to a dog is when we should get one. Not now. But maybe later. When we’re ready. Together.” He snuck another look at her as he slowed to a stop at the next light. He hoped he had said the right thing. Six years and he was still learning.
“It’s just a dog,” she said, turning to him with the same look she wore when she called him “dense” in an argument not too many months ago. “Not a baby or anything.” The light turned green and he shifted from first to second gear. She turned up the radio again as Willie sang, live the life you want to live, do the things you want to do, it’s entirely up to you…
She hummed along and asked, “So do you want Italian or Mexican tonight?”