I used to want to be a veterinarian when I was a kid, and for a simple reason: I had never considered what they actually do. This is why I ended up becoming a puppeteer. Puppets are far less likely, statistically speaking, to pee on you, and they rarely have to be euthanized.*
But I still get to thinking about animals sometimes. One of those times was yesterday afternoon, when an L.L. Bean Hunting catalogue came in the mail, a strapping buck** on its cover. This would have bothered me a lot when I was a kid. I would have worried that they felled the deer immediately after taking the photo. Now, as an adult, I am far more rational, and accordingly, I opt for the far more rational expedient of immediately letting my mind wander back to sex.
No, seriously, what I do (besides immediately letting my mind wander back to sex) is make up a story for myself, wherein the deer turns out actually to be a top client of the Gersh agency, where he wanders immediately after the photo shoot, barges into his agent's office, kicks back in a chair, sips a martini, and drawls, "OK, look here, sweetiecakes: I demand ten thousand clams for my next photo shoot for that trashy L.L. Bean, or these antlers go straight through that darling little pot belly of yours. Capisce? Also, get me another martini." And the agent would be so daunted that he would immediately propel the deer to international stardom. The deer would become untouchable, a global entertainment icon, a mainstay on the Maxim Hot 100 list.***
Of course, some animals inspire more imaginative trains of thought than others. For example, it is easy to ascribe a highly complex inner life to a Siberian husky, whereas you cannot imagine a Yorkshire terrier wanting to do much more than lick its crotch. This is of course an unfair bias; in real life, neither dog wants to do much more than lick its crotch. It is part of the Dog Code, along with humping your leg, which let us face it is famous for being infertile. (Yes, that's right. I'm talking to you dog readers out there. You are fighting a losing battle. But oh nooo, you will never learn.)
Here's another example of a totally uninspiring creature which nevertheless manages to maintain rockstar popularity among pet owners: parakeets. We had parakeets for years, despite the fact that they never did anything interesting except poop in their living quarters and screw like bunnies. At least they differed from college students in that occasionally they would molt. We had one guy parakeet named Angelo who generally looked normal until one day, every year, when without warning he would suddenly transform into a beaked rat with mange. It didn't matter to him, of course; as far as he was concerned, he was Fabio. His self-image was helped along by his groupies, namely all the other parakeets in the cage, who had all turned out to be female.
So of course Angelo was also a sex maniac. We humans, in an eternal but hopeless quest to find other males for the cage, instead just kept populating the cage with young hens, feeding Angelo's habit to a degree that Hef himself could only dream of. Personally, I imagined him not as Hef but as Quagmire from "Family Guy," going around gleefully chuckling, "Aaaall-riiiiight."
I fully believe that Angelo and the hens could have gone on to be major reality television stars, especially in today's sucktastic entertainment climate where the average TV program is something like like Obese Teen Bachelor Stage Moms Dance with the Stars and Eat Their Children for Money, then Cover Neil Sedaka Hits.**** Unfortunately, the parakeets never got a chance at this kind of stardom, because when my family moved from Florida to Maine, we gave them to a friend on a farm who had a gigantic aviary full of parakeets. This new group consisted largely of - you guessed it - very young hens.
I don't think Angelo could possibly still be with us, but there is no question in my mind that he went happy. I like to think he departed this life smoking seven or eight little birdie cigarettes at once.
* Unless they get uppity.
** This is an objective description, you realize. I mean, he wasn't my type or anything. Really.
*** Yes, I realize this was a buck. Just seriously, don't hassle me.
**** Who do you guys think will get voted off next week?