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Rant #360
(published December 13, 2007)
Silence Speaks Volumes
by Adrien Aniceto
Wal-mart single-handedly represents everything that I am against. Personally, I'm into organic soy milk, Utne Reader, late night jogs accompanied by my blaring lime green iPod mini, Haruki Murakami, and NPR. I can't relate to the isles of middle-aged, 250-pound mothers of three screaming rug rats, yanking at the gray drawstring Hanes fatigue shorts rumpled by the rolls of fat from all angles, pushing over-stuffed carts of jumbo packs of corn dogs and hot pickled sausages. They speak in a slow drawl through their pastry puffed rosy-toned cheeks, flinging saliva with each poorly constructed sentence, almost indistinguishable with the amount of slang uttered. Although it is an establishment I loathe, my unhealthy obsession with whitening my teeth is starting to break my bank account, so I agree to accompany my roommate, Brittany, on a Wal-mart excursion every so often to stock up on dental hygiene supplies.

I was in there the other day, annoyed by the lack of "firm" toothbrushes and vehemently disgusted by the overwhelming amount of toothless and obese customers that surrounded me, when I noticed a young girl twirling in circles. Now, I've never had too much patience for young children, what with all that whining and nagging all the time, but this girl touched a deep, untapped hatred within me. She was probably about eight or so but she was of pretty hefty proportions, so she could have been younger. She had this stupid plastered grin on her face, the face of a proud infant who just took a fresh, steamy shit. She was wearing a tight purple t-shirt (stained with spilled apple juice or perhaps her own drool) with the word "cheer!" written, oh so cheerfully in hot pink glittery letters. It was then that I realized this girl must be involved with some extra-curricular cheerleading squad. The idea of that tore the very foundation of my understanding of what it takes to be a cheerleader: She was the epitome of what a cheerleader should not be. Her hair was a muted brown, matted to her double chin, stringy with sweat. Her head was the size of a small watermelon; her chubby body lacked any real shape, except for overall roundness. She had little premature breasts, which I could only analogize with the man-titties of overweight, middle-aged men. She was spinning incessantly, crashing into the end-caps displaying gigantic vats of weight gainer and protein shakes. I hated this girl, a hate that stung all over my body, reaching deep into the caverns of my soul. I can't really explain why I was so disturbed, but it was so severe that I said "fuck it" to the three toothbrushes I was about to purchase and stormed out the door.

I went home to my OCD apartment decorated in bright pinks and blues and yellows in what Brittany refers to as a "Key West meets Malibu" theme. The instant I opened the door I was greeted by Brittany's dog, Reba, jumping up on her hind legs to come lick me and give me my proper "hello". All of the animosity I felt toward the chubby girl from Wal-Mart was forgotten. This got me thinking, Why do I have never-ending patience for dogs and other animals, but not people? I deplore stupidity in humans, but the simple-mindedness of puppies is endearing and adorable to me.

Reba Ann (yes, two names; Brittany is as southern as they come, Alabama born and bred) is a German Shepherd mix with tan fur and a white belly. She has a slender body, alert black ears, and excellent manners. She has been known to sit at attention for several minutes while trying to gain our interest; we call this "sittin' pretty." I am not a morning person, but I seldom get short with her when she wakes me up to play with her latest chew toy, generally dripping in sticky Reba-slobber. She can keep me up for hours with her caterpillar squeak toy without a peep from me. Some days, when Brittany is passed out in a hangover coma, I'll even take Reba to shit. I sympathized for her when she was going through a particularly bad case of diarrhea, or "bad booty" as Brittany calls it. The fact is, I just can't get enough of Reba's big, sloppy kisses all over my face and hands. I love the way her paws smell like the stale corn chips that come in the nachos you get at the movie theater. When I am drunk, I will toss Reba her stuffed carrot repeatedly—it never gets old!

I never thought I could understand Reba's extensive toy and treat and collar collection, or her professional photos, or why she sleeps on Brittany's memory foam bed (despite the deluxe dog sleeper that lays next to her bed). But now, it all makes sense. Recently, Brittany and I discussed different living arrangements for the three of us for next year, and we realized that neither one of us want another voice in the house. It was then that it hit me. Reba is not just Brittany's dog, she is my second roommate—who never bitches or complains or starts arguments. She cuddles, always uses the new toy you get her, and eats every meal you set out for her. I tried to picture that twirling fat girl doing the same, but failed. Maybe I shouldn't have children. I am much more of a dog person.

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