In a Sow’s Ear 5-10-10 | TheFencePost.com

In a Sow’s Ear 5-10-10

Gwen Petersen
Big Timber, Mont.

“I’ve got to go into the city,” said Lulubelle. “I’m after tomato plants.”

“You can get those right here in town,” I said. “Bubba’s Nursery has aplenty.”

“No,” said Lulubelle. “I’m after those that have their own built-in cage thingy that you can only get at Buford’s Club in the city. I’m shopping for other stuff, too. You need anything?”

“Goldfish,” I said.

“For what? You don’t have an aquarium.”

“For my spring fed stock-watering tank. The fish keep the tank clean.”

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“Well, you’d best come to the city with me,” ordered Lulubelle. “I’ll take you to the Pet Palace.”

Which is how I found myself wandering about in a bedlam complete with weird sounds, screeches, cries and ghoulish people. The Pet Palace is bigger than the Queen of England’s Buckingham dwelling, except that the pet store clerks don’t wear fancy livery.

Canines are allowed in the store as long as they bring an owner on a leash. The noise level could have floated an anvil. Confrontations occurred. Dogs woofed, barked and growled. I do not know if any of the tail-waggers marked their territories. I did wonder if the swamper got paid extra for above-and-beyond duty.

Fearing that I might take a wrong turn and perhaps not be found for days, I trod close upon Lulubelle’s heels. She led me to a bank of tanks – fish tanks, that is. A double row of water-filled, glass-fronted cages stretched along one wall apparently to infinity. Each cage held a finny creature – fancy fish with translucent tail fins. Fancier ones with waving dorsal fins, whiskers, stripes, spots, big eyes, not-so big eyes – all darting about like dressed up exclamation marks on the loose.

By now, my tolerance for the heavy-metal bashing of sound and the claustrophobic pushing of people into my personal space reached the panic stage. I felt like stampeding out of there. But Lulubelle flagged down a helpful employee.

“Eh, I’d like some goldfish,” I quavered.

“Big ones or little ones?” the clerk asked. She smiled, blinked behind her eyeglasses and swung her long hair.

“I don’t know. I’m putting them in the stock tank.”

“You’ll want the bigger ones,” said the clerk. “How many?”

“A dozen,” I answered.

The clerk promptly disappeared. I think she beamed up somewhere. While we waited for her to re-materialize Lulubelle and I eyeballed the Palace wares. Pet toys, pet food, pet harnesses, pet chew-toys – aisle after aisle was chock full with items you could purchase for your critter, not to mention that you could buy actual live puppies, kittens, reptiles, lizards … and probably a unicorn or a hyena if you so desired. The variety boggled the mind.

Finally, however, Ms. Swinging Hair returned carrying a clear plastic bag of water secured at the top with a rubber band. Twelve little goldfish skittered within.

Once back home, I removed the rubber band and upended the bag of fish into the stock tank – watching to see if any went belly up. This story has no particular moral, ending or wisdom. However, those 12 little goldfish had better survive because this old cowgirl is never ever going to set foot in Pet Bedlam again.

P.S. Lulubelle obtained her special tomato plants which, she claims, are already bearing fruit.

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