February 16 2010
I knew she wasn’t the type to sneak in a pug puppy, which is what she wanted to get, because she’s so honest she declared on her customs form underpants she’d bought in Paris but worn on the plane home.
“What about something smaller, that you can keep inside,” I suggested, knowing that most buildings that banned dogs allowed stay at home pets.
“How about some frogs?” I knew she’d studied marine biology in college. Then I remembered that my niece had lived in an apartment in Buenos Aires that didn’t allow dogs so she bought two frogs to keep her company. Only then she went away for a few days and left the tank on the window ledge and one of them stretched out on a rock to take in the rays. But instead it got fried to a crisp, leaving only its desiccated remains.
“You mean a ferret.”
“No, ferrets are illegal. Guinea pigs are kosher.”
“How can a pig be kosher?”
“They’re not really pigs. They’re just called that. My friend in Miami has one. Her condo doesn’t allow dogs so she got a guinea pig for her daughter. Only her daughter couldn’t care less about the pig so she was forced to play with it, which she wasn’t happy about because every time she goes to pick up the non-pig it bites her. And to compensate for the fact that no one’s paying it any attention, she spends $100 a month on organic bedding that’s so comfy the pig sleeps all day long and keeps getting fatter and fatter. I told her to get rid of it before she has a nervous breakdown.”
“That doesn’t sound like a great recommendation,” my friend said
“You’re right, I don’t know what I was thinking. Fish, that’s it.”
“You mean tropical fish?’ my friend seemed skeptical. “But they’re temperamental, and if you don’t get compatible species they can eat each other.”
“Start simple – with goldfish.” I decided not to tell her about my colleague who did just that, buying a cute little goldfish for her little boy at a street fair to make up for the fact that her Chelsea building didn’t allow dogs. Except it turned out to be a mutant goldfish that grew into a monster fish like one of those sponge animals you put in water, so big she didn’t know what to do with it, which is why she was horrified – and relieved – when she came home one day to find her toddler had flushed it down the toilet, obviating the need for her to have to make any tough ethical choices.
“Goldfish aren’t as simple as they seem,” she must have read my mind.
“Then bees,” I finally said. “If the amendments to the Health Code go through (see, Bees Are In, Pot Bellied Pigs Are Out), you could have your very own hive next month.”
Don’t give up. Even if you can’t have a dog there are lots of altnatives so you won’t have to be home alone.