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Howl: The Cattle May be Lowing
But two hounds get it said

The tree is decorated, the stockings are hung, the Yule fire burns low and, according to an old tradition, at midnight on Christmas Eve … the animals speak.

COMET (Beagle, about age four): You think that’s Alex Trebek’s real hair?
AJAX (also a Beagle, somewhat Comet’s senior, waking): What?

C: Alex Trebek. You think that’s a hairpiece?
A: I’ll tell you who wears a piece is that Bob Barker.
C: No way!
A: Way!
C: I don’t watch much TV.
A: Me either. No smell. You’d think they’d make it smell.
C: You know who smelled the other night? (Names a frequent visitor.)
A: Tell me about it. Bacon and pancakes!
C: Bacon and waffles.
A: Really? I didn’t get waffles. Real maple syrup, though.
C: The best.
A: Hmm. What about this reindeer business?
C: Reindeer?
A: I mean, reindeer can’t fly. Why not use birds? Birds fly.
C: It’s the North Pole. You think there are birds at the North Pole?
A: You think there are reindeer at the North Pole?
C: Huh.
A: I’ll tell you what else: Those aren’t real squirrels.
C: What are you talking about?
A: Those little squirrels they throw around the house for you to chase. They’re not real.
C: But they fly!
A: They throw them.
C: They squeak!
A: They can make anything squeak.
C: The squirrels aren’t real? They seem so real.
A: Sorry.
C: I feel like such a fool.
A: I shouldn’t have said anything. You’re getting a couple new squirrels in your stocking. Try not to let on.
C: They seem so real.
A: That’s the spirit. And you’re probably right about the reindeer.
C: I don’t know …
A: Don’t beat yourself up. Took me three years to figure out the mailman is just a mailman.
C: Grrrr! The mailman!
A: Easy, buddy. It’s just you and me.
C: You mean the mailman’s not real either?
A: Real but harmless. Just doing his job.
C: But he shoves things at us through the door.
A: Trash. Except for Martha Stewart.
C: Love Martha Stewart!
A: Just doing his job.
C: You’re telling me the squirrels aren’t real? And the mailman is, but not to worry?
A: Merry Christmas.
C: And the FedEx guy?
A: Grrrr! The FedEx guy!
C: Just checking.

 

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This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 45: Nov/Dec 2007
Jeff Steinbrink teaches at Franklin & Marshall College; his work has appeared in The Believer and McSweeney's, among others.

Illustration by Mark Stay

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