Seven years ago, my oldest daughter wanted a little pet. An inside cat was out of the question. So was a dog. At least until I had a momentary lapse of sanity.
We went to a flea market to look around. If I’d known how things were about to play out, I would’ve walked right by the old woman sitting under a shade tree selling puppies.
She was selling little breeds. Without hesitation, all four daughters zeroed in like heat seeking missiles to a cage with four puppies, half Chihuahua, half Japanese Chin.
Half Chihuahuas! God made Chihuahuas as a practical joke on rats. They’re noisy, obnoxious, cranky little animals that on their best day look genetically defective.
These, however, looked like the furry Japanese Chin part. Before I knew it, the heat seeking missiles exploded. Shawnna was holding the runt of the litter, all nine weeks old, in the palm of her hand talking to it like it was a little baby.
I’m convinced now the old lady selling them set the hook right then. I just didn’t know it right then.
There are a lot of characters out there, and this lady was one of them! She sat in an old lawn chair wearing spandex pants, a t-shirt and chewing sunflower seeds. She was 20% hillbilly, 70% redneck and 10% Duck Dynasty!
I told her the dogs she was giving away were cute.
“Giving?!” she said mischievously, “The last man through here that said that is buried over yonder.”
We chit chatted while the girls were gooing and gawing over the puppies. She got up and started telling them all about the puppies. That’s when I felt the first point of the hook!
“They’re nine weeks old. That little ‘un you got right there will get to be about five pounds full-grown, but he’s sportin’ a pound and a half or so right now. They’re such good little dogs!”
She kept talking about how their temperaments are “sweet as can be”. Trying to spit the hook out, I joked about breeding it to my Great Dane. (I don’t have a Great Dane.)
She said something, but I didn’t understand.
“Aww!” she said, genuinely frustrated, as she put her hand over her mouth. “I just got all my top teeth pulled and can hardly talk. I can’t wait till my false teeth come in!”
Now I had her distracted and was trying to turn the tables.
“Where’d you get your teeth?”
“These are my teeth!” I objected.
“Yeah right! Those teeth are too pretty to be real!”
I started convincing her they were all mine. Even stepped forward so she could see better. All the while, out of the corner of her eye she was watching the girls bond with the puppies.
“Well you must have a plate then for the others!” she quipped.
“No ma’am! I’ve never even had a cavity before!” still trying to convince her my teeth were real.
“Hmm!” she snorted, “Since you’ve got no dental bills, you can afford that puppy!”
I stared wide-eyed as she broke into a huge, no teeth on the top, ‘I gotcha’ grin. I’d taken her bait, hook, line AND sinker.
Shawnna gave me “the look” daughters give dads when they really want something, at least want something right then. I just ignored it and half heartedly told the lady we weren’t getting an inside animal.
“Well girls, that’s it. You’re dad says no.” She opened the cage door to return the puppies and sat down.
She may have looked like a mountain man from the movie Deliverance, but she had Einstein blood!
We walked around the flea market a few more minutes, but they were all half enthusiastic now. I tried to get everyone excited about a raggedy old tennis racket, but puppy breath was on the girl’s minds.
Shawnna finally broke the silence. “I’ll take care of it.”
I asked who would be taking care of it when she went off to college a couple years later. She said she would keep it in her dorm at college. I told her they don’t allow animals in dorms, but Shelby spoke up, uninvited into the conversation I may add, and said she knew people who’d done that.
Well, dog gone it!!
Shelby and I went back to the lady’s table while the other three looked at a hat booth. She was still sitting in her lawn chair and coyly said, “Well, I guess you came back here for one, but you’re probably going to insult me and offer $3 for one of ’em”.
“No ma’am! I’m not cheap! I’ll give $5 for two of them!”
She was not amused and let out a “Pssfft!” Thinking back, she may have said a cuss word, but couldn’t pronounce it without her teeth.
Negotiations were on! She claimed she’d get $150 the next weekend at a show and $200 each at Canton two weeks later, but came down to a $100. I countered at $60. We met in the middle.
I asked Deliverance if we could get a picture of her with the puppy to remember where we got him.
Grinning, she grabbed the puppy and held it up to her cheek. “You just want my picture cause you think I’m ‘purdy’!”, which made Shelby burst out loud laughing.
She put her hand on her hip, “Hey, you think this is good, you should see with my teeth in, makeup and a girdle!” which made me laugh out loud.
As we walked away, it occurred to me that I had been whooped! I wasn’t planning to buy anything, but now Shelby was cuddling Shawnna’s two month early birthday gift. Plus, we had an inside animal, my wallet was empty and the hook, line and sinker smarted for a long, long time.
Shawnna, however, was delighted and that’s far more important, I guess…