Thursday, June 17, 2010

Meet the Pet Parents

I have disks chock full of book notions that either died in the idea stage or met their makers on the chutes and ladders of Publishing Land. You know: Thanks but no thanks. One such project was entitled Meet the Pet Parents, which hoped to someday be a compilation of essays on the cross-section of interesting pet people whom I met along the way in my seventeen years in the business. What follows is a snippet of sample material from an old book proposal gathering virtual dust:

Tuesday’s Child is Dixie Dinner

Bill and Winnie lorded over a veritable menagerie of companion animals. At one point in time, the couple cohabited with forty-eight felines, which proved a very propitious number for them. You’ll soon appreciate why. But first, contemplate the problems that could have ensued had this considerable brood been a persnickety bunch.

Most fortunately for Bill and Winnie, their four-dozen resident felines gave their collective paws up to an extensive list of acceptable cat food brands and flavors. This roster of dinner possibilities proved far-reaching enough to weather any and all out-of-stocks at our store, because there were always second, third, and even fourth and fifth alternatives on the list.

Now, here’s why that cat census figure made Bill and Winnie’s life a smidgen less complicated. There were twenty-four cans in the cases of food they favored. So, feeding forty-eight cats amounted to expending exactly two cases a day—one can for each feline border—and fourteen cases a week. Bill and Winnie had only one proviso attached to their weekly cat food order. They insisted the house meal be uniform for the whole kit and caboodle—everybody eats the same thing on any given day. This way there would be no hard feelings, jealousies, or—perish the thought—cat fights. And so, Monday was Liver and Bacon day; Tuesday, Dixie Dinner day; Wednesday, Scrambled Eggs and Beef day, and so on and so forth.

Bill and Winnie were truly egalitarian in the management of their sprawling household. When one and all dined on the identical supper, no cat in their home and hearth could ever cite instances of favoritism. Bill, who always did the family shopping, would call on us each week with his list of fourteen cases in hand: two of this, two of that, etc. If we only had one case of a selection in stock, it just wouldn’t do. Bill would then advance to his second tier for a satisfactory substitute. But always, there had to be two cases available for sale—or there would be no sale.

Bill clued us in on the not inconsiderable task of opening forty-eight cans of cat food and feeding forty-eight cats each day. Suffice it to say, it gobbled up some time and necessitated ample doses of organization and patience. To assist with the daily drudge work, he told us that he utilized a high-quality electric can opener manufactured by Black and Decker. The company, Bill said, offered a lifetime guarantee on his preferred utensil. He confessed that the sheer volume of his can-opening requirements eventually cast it asunder. A single can opener would last him approximately six months. Bill would then exchange it for a new one and repeat the process all over again.

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