Reincarnation Pet Shop
It was a gorgeous day; the sky was light blue my favorite color, not dark blue my least favorite color. There was just the right amount of clouds in the sky, not too many to block out the sun but enough to give the sky more personality. Without any clouds the sky wouldn’t be fun to look at all. It would just be a whole lot of blue.
“What do you think heaven is like?” asked the baby sitter from behind the kitchen counter.
“I don’t know,” I thought for a minute mulling the question over in my brain like it was a fine wine you have to let breath before you digest it or something like that. I'm not sure what that means but I heard an adult say that once on an old tv show and it sound smart, or attest the adults on the show thought it was smart.
“I think it’s a place were you can finally read all the Magazine articles you’ve been meaning to read,” I said.
That was something another adult said on a TV show once, and everyone laughed when it was said on TV so I assumed it would be the same here.
The baby sitter turned around very slowly like she always did when she was really mad, and glared at me. She didn’t find any humor in religion at all. The sitter was surprisingly religious for such a young slutty girl. She was one of those people if she suspected someone was only pretending to sing in church, she would point them out and ask the minister to ban them from church for not participating, or at least I'm sure she would. I once saw this actually happen when Miss Griffin down the street noticed Mr. Tom wasn't really singing in church just moving his lips as everyone else sang along. She poked him all through the church service whispering not so quietly.
"God can see you Mr. Griffin so you better sing!"
Finally poor Mr. Griffin was so embarrassed and tired of being poked he did sing. Once he did every one in church soon realized why he hadn't song earlier. It turned out Mr. Griffin was terrible at singing. He turned “Amazing Grace’ into “Its amazing any song could sound that bad.” He hasn’t been to church since.
“You really think that’s what heaven is like?” asked the baby sitter.
I sighed, as clearly the baby sitter wanted me to say something else about what heaven was like something mores serious, but I had no idea what I was supposed to say. To be honest I never really understood what she wanted me to say or do half the time .So when she talked I would just nod my head and act like I knew what she wanted and hope she’d shut up, but she rarely did. So I thought for about ten long second and said this, “Also a place where you can play with puppies and kittens all the time and not have to clean up after them.” That was my idea of heaven. I said.
“Oh,” she said (she seemed to accept that as an answer).”Well that would be nice I guess its too bad animals don’t go to heaven,” she said looking at her reflection in her spoon.
I was in shock, like I’d just heard a four-letter word or something racist.
“Well,” she said taking a casual sip of her coffee, which was really grandpa’s coffee and he'd asked her not to drink any before he left.
“What do you mean animals don’t go to heaven?”
"They can’t go to heaven they have no souls,” the sitter said in a matter or fact tone as if it was so obvious.
“What????” I said.
I wasn’t going to let this go.
“Of course they have souls! All living things have souls!!!!!”
“Even plants?” She replied coldly, like I was being crazy and you had to talk sense into me.
“Yeah!” I shot back, “There must be flowers in heaven, what would the souls of gardeners have to plant?”
“What about rag weed?"
“Does that go to heaven?” She replied.
“Well, (I thought for a minute) that would be in hell of course.”
“What about … (now she was thinking hard, her face was so scrunched up in thought you could see forehead wrinkles, I didn't even know ten year olds could get wrinkles)...an amoeba they’re alive.”
“The good ones will be in heaven studied by a scientist.”
“How can an amoeba be bad in the first place?” Jan asked
“Uh, I don’t know …they don’t commit sins they are too small. So there must be a lot in heaven.”
She groaned, “The only animals that have souls are the ones that used to be people in a former life.”
“Former life?” (I asked giving her my what on earth are you talking about look).
“You know people who were reincarnated.”
“Oh you mean the breakfast drink?” I asked.
“Grandpa drank it once and it tasted so bad he spit it out all over his morning paper”. Course maybe he shouldn't have put whiskey in it first but he would never try it again either way.
“NO! That is Carnation Instant breakfast. I'm talking about reincarnation."
“Oh you mean the flower?” I giggled.
“NO! NO! That’s a type of flower!” She started shouting and turning red.
"You know what it is, you’re just teasing me,” she sneered.
"Maybe," I giggled.
Of course I knew what reincarnation was. I knew more about life and death than she ever would, because of my grandpa unusual job, a job that would one day be mine but not for a long, long time.
I burst out laughing. I tried to hold back the laughing because I knew it would piss her off. She was so mad it was funny, and of course the more I laughed the madder she got.
“Dead puppies,” she shouted.
That stopped my laughing.... she smiled triumphantly. She always said dead puppies or kittens when she wanted me to stop laughing at her. I hated that. Why did puppies and kittens need to die anyway? I'd ask Grandpa that when he'd get home. He could explain things better then the dumb sitter could.
“Can we go somewhere fun?” I asked the baby sitter.
“Ohhh why can’t we just stay here? Your old man said...” the sitter moaned.
“My Grandpa!” I corrected her.
“Your popo…”she said.
“Grandpa!” I corrected again...
“Hey some people call their grandpa Po po,” said the sitter.
“Well I don’t,” I said annoyed.
“Well whatever he’s called he didn’t leave me much money,” said the sitter.
“The place I was thinking of was free,” I said.
“Free?” she said sounding excited now. “Where is this free place? Does it have free food?”
“I was thinking the pet shop.”
“Oh.” She looked bored again.
“It’s in walking distances,” I said.
“I’m not buying you anything.”
“I don’t want anything I just want to look,” I said.
“Why would you want to look if your not buying anything?”
“Because I love animals.”
“Well I love boys but if I was told I could only look at a cute boy and not touch them…” she said with a sneaky look on her face as if she could already see what the boys she would like to touch looked like.
“Yeah I know,” I said not wanting her to go into details.
“So where is this pet shop?” she asked.
“We can walk to it,” I said
“How far?” she asked.
“Its not far at all.” I said
“How far?” she asked again.
“It’s right next to the Wooden Nickel Dollar Store, the one near the pier,” I said.
“A pet shop on a pier? Why would anyone…” she started to say.
“It’s not on the pier, it’s by the pier. If you can find the Wooden Nickel Dollar Store( can being the key word i wasn't sure she could find anything but boys own her own) you’ll see the Pet shop.”
“Fine we will go, but only because there are cute boys at the pier where I can show off my new top,” she said touching her top and pulling it down lower so her stuffed training bra looked bigger.
Not that at her age there was much there re to make look bigger.
I tried not to groan in disgust too loudly as we got ready to go.
“Have you always lived near the beach?” asked the sitter brushing her hair as she walked and admired her own reflection in the store windows as we walked passed them.
“No we just moved here last year,” I said.
“Hey he’s cute, ” she remarked.
“He’s too old for you.” I said.
“He is not, ” she said in a shut up you stay out of this tone of voice.
“He’s twenty and that’s clearly his girl friend”.
“I don’t see a ring on her finger. They may not be married or anything”. She said.
“He is caring a baby,” I said.
“I still don’t see a ring.” She said fluttering her eyelashes.
“We are here, ” I said walking right up to the Pet Shop.
“Fine,” the sitter said.
She was looking bored before we even got in the shop.
“I don’t care what you think, as soon as that chick with the baby leaves that cute guy I’m going to make a move on him,” she said.
“Fine, but leave me in the pet shop. I would much rather look at the cute little puppies then him,” I said.
“Awe look at that adorable little dog,” I said pointing to a pug puppy.
“Isn’t he cute?”
“ Cute?” The baby sitter repeated sarcastically. It wasn’t so much a question as it was a statement.
“Cute is not the word I’d use, look at those eyes sticking out of his head. He look’s like a giant bug, and he’s breathing hard like he has asthma or something.” Then she laughed as if this was funny.
“He’s just panting, that how dogs breath when it's hot out,” I said frustrated at her stupidity.
Everyone should know that. It was simple dog knowledge she should already know.
“Sounded more like he was snoring while awake,” she grumbled.
“Yeah I know people like that,” I said thinking of my Grandpa.
“Are we sure he’s even a dog?” the baby sitter replied looking down at the pug like it was a pile of toxic waste.
“Maybe its just a furry pig they put in here by mistake,” she added.
“He’s not a pig. He’s too cute and don’t insult him you’ll hurt his feeling,” I said, trying to defend the poor pug. Someone had to.
“Dog’s brains aren’t big enough to have feelings,” the baby sitter snorted her mean laugh again.
Neither is yours I wanted to shoot back but knew I shouldn’t.
Oh how I hate her, and I wasn't afraid to say that i hated her either, just not out loud. She was so mean. Why was she even baby-sitting in the first place? She clearly hated kids, well kids who weren't her age. She was only twelve but she was dressed like a sixteen year old. She had cut her shirt in half and made it into a tank top so everyone could see her nice flat stomach. Then again she was only twelve years old so of course her stomach was flat. Grandpa said it isn't impressive having a flat stomach until you are as old as him. Then you could show it off all you wanted.
“Well I still think he’s cute,” I said.
“Yeah sure,” she said rolling her eyes.
“As cute as a baby after they spit up. I bet this guy was a pig in his last life. That would explain why he is snorting like one.”
“Well a dog would be higher then a pig,” I had to admit.
“They do eat dogs in Japan,” she replied.
“They do not! That’s just a stereotype.”
Great first she was insulting pugs, now she was insulting the Japanese.
“They do too!” She shot back real annoyed.
“I read it on Wikipedia,” she stated like that was answer to everything.
“Oh yeah,” I said.
Now I was the one rolling my eyes. “According to you Wikipedia also said that “Beano” would work on cows to solve global warming.”
“It would!” She shot back again.
“If we gave cows a lot of “Beano. It just hasn’t been tried because we’re worried the cows might get sick or their stomachs will explode from it or something,” she added.
Oh man, I thought, I can’t believe my grandpa left me with the sitter from hell. I had tried begging him before to get any other sitter but Jane.
I’ll take the one that never bathes, she doesn’t smell that bad. Or the one that breast-feeds her seven year-old daughter, which makes her older then me. Or even the one that watched nothing but soap operas, and cried loud through the night when one of her favorite characters was killed off.
Anyone but Jane! Jane wasn't even her real name. Her real name was actually Jeremy. I wouldn't mind having Jeremy as a name. It sound better then my name Debbie as there were a million Debbie’s in my school. The sitter however hated her name because it could be both a boy and a girl’s name. So when her Mom wasn't around she told people to call her Jane, which wasn't very creative. No offense to all the Jane’s out there I'm just saying if you could name yourself pick something cool and original.
It wasn't just that Jane was mean to animals and me. It was lots of other things that bugged me. For starters she insisted on talking loudly to one of her many boyfriend on the phone in a really low voice Jane thought was sexy, but I just found it creepy. The phone calls just went on and on and I could hear everything in my room because she planted herself on the couch by the TV. It was just easier to fall asleep in the bathroom where I couldn't hear the sitter or wait for Grandpa to come home. Grandpa was often out late so I would often spend the night in the bathtub. I didn't mind, it was quiet and it was kind of like being in a crib with those tub walls around me. The only problem was grandpa took a shower right when he came home no matter how late it was and didn’t check to see if I was in there first when he'd turn the water on. Still cold water helped get me up. Grandpa always made up for being gone so long when he'd come back. We would have pizza and ice cream and watch movies. He'd be back from his work thing soon, with funny or scary stories to tell about his clients and how they handled the news. It would be all right once he got back, but still that wasn't until tomorrow night. I know I had set my watch to it: one day, twelve hours, forty-two minutes and thirty two seconds before this bitch left. Yeah I said bitch. That may be alarming to some of you who didn't believe six year old girls should curse, but my grandpa believes everyone curse sooner or later in life. Might as well let kids curse now so they can be bored of it when they grow up rather than let them wait until they are adults and then they just can’t stop.
The sitter whipped out her phone and pushed a speed dial number to call one of her many boyfriends.
“Oh Jim,” she cooed into the phone. “You’ll never guess what the stupid little baby I am watching just said. She thinks heaven is like….”
“Hey. I can hear you,” I said.
She tried looking stern and annoyed and said,” Well go away and it’s rude to eavesdrop.
“It’s rude to talk about me behind my back or right in front of me”.
“Hey this conversation isn't about you. What gave you such an idea?” said the sitter annoyed.
“Then whom are you talking about?” I asked
That shut her up for about five seconds, as she couldn't think of anyone. Finally she said “None of your business.”
She turned around and began talking into the phone.
“Anyway this little baby says dumb stuff and she started doing a really bad impression of my voice. Anyhow I think heaven is full of stinky animals….”
“I never said anything like that,” I said.
“I’m not talking to you!” Jane replied.
God this sitter is not just a jerk she was a moron. Did she really think I couldn't figure out she was talking about me on the phone.
I sighed, and walked to the bunny boxes in the store. Why was she so mean? I thought.
Oh well at least coming here killed half the day and I was glad she wasn't bringing up reincarnation again. That argument we had this morning was too much.
“Ohhh look at these cute little bunnies,” said the sitter picking one up. “Ohhh you’re so cute,” she said rubbing the poor bunny all over her face.
“Too bad you don't have a souls, you’re so cute,” she cooed.
“ In my next life I'd love to live on a bunny farm then I could play with bunnies all day."
I thought about telling her why bunny’s farmer raised bunnies for but thought better about it.
"What would you be in your next life?" asked the baby sister looking at cute ferrite.
"Why do you ask?" I said.
"I just finished reading an article about a guy who said he was Gandhi and Hitler in his last two lives," said the sitter putting that poor bunny down.
"How can he be both Gandhi and Hitler? Their personalities are totally different?" I asked.
"You haven’t answered my question."
"I don’t know maybe a dog...."
"A dog," she replied, in a harsh tone like I just said something preposterous.
"Yeah," realizing I was going to have to explain. "Dogs have a great life, they don’t have a care in the world, and they can sleep where they want, and they are easily amused" I added, thinking of my dog Phoebe at home, who was chasing her little scruffy tail or she might have just been trying to scratch it.
The sitter says, "You can't be an animal in your next life,
"Is it became animals don't have souls?” I asked as I rolled my eyes.
“Well yes, but a human can only come back as an animal if you were bad. You may be a brat at times but I don't see you coming back as a dog”.
"Hey it’s my after life I can do what I want, I said.
"You can only be an animal if you lead a bad life, because it’s a lower form," she said.
"Maybe for you, but for me it would be a reward. I love animals!!!"
Now the sitter is getting frustrated, "A reward would be coming back as someone rich and famous like a Kennedy!"
"The Kennedy's are cursed, a lot of them have died young. How is that a reward? I don’t want to be filthy rich..."
"I don’t want to grow up spoiled and afraid to work," like you I thought to myself.
"Who cares you’d be rich," says Jane.
"I want to be a dog, " I said
"Well you can't," the sitter said.
"That’s up to me and God."
Then she has the nerve to say, "God will tell you, and you’re being dumb.”
"No, he or she won’t,"
"Yeah, God could be a girl."
"NO! He's a guy..."
"But we don’t know for sure."
"The bible says holy father,” she said holding her head.
"It also says Mother Earth”, I shot back.
The owner of the Pet Shop then came up, "Will you two please speak softly. Loud noises make the pets nervous."
He was holding a parrot that was playing with his hat.
Jane turns to the owner and says, "Please tell this kid that animals are lower, they can't drive, work, watch TV, write or talk."
"I don't know that sounds like a relaxing life to me," says the owner.
Jane of course turned to me and gave me a look like this is your fault.
"Oh, by the way Buddhism does say reincarnation in a higher form varies and dolphins are more intelligent then humans."
"If dolphins are so smart then why don't they build little towns under the sea?" Jane exclaimed.
"Well, look at Atlantis, maybe that’s why it sank. The dolphins wanted it," answered the owner.
"Uh, she grumbled you are both impossible."
She stomped out of the store knocking over a parrot's cage. The parrot flapped its wings to correct its balance, it spilled something in her direction, and maybe that was how parrots cursed.
"Lets go to the library," she called in the store after me impatiently.
As I left I turned back to the pet shop owner, "Did the Buddha really say that?" I asked the pet shop owner.
He smiled at me,” well I don’t know much about Buddhism, but I do know a lot about animals, and your friend is a beast!” He said.
I liked him, the pet shop owner. He was nice.