The Beast is experimenting with growling lately. It’s a low, angry rumble. There is nothing cute about it. It’s actually quite creepy. Sometimes we’ll hear him up in his crib gnarling at his blankie. Husband and I look at each other with worried expressions, but we say very little. We’re trying not to address it in hopes it’ll just go away. Coincidentally his current favourite toy is a baby sneaker. He likes to chew on the laces and the rubber sole. If you come by our place, it’s not uncommon to find The Beast crawling around with a sneaker in his mouth while he growls at everything. In short, he looks and acts like a dog.
The other day I packed The Beast up to take him to the grocery store. I was embarrassed to let my child chew on a sneaker in public, so I tried to slip the sneaker out of his mouth and replace it with a famous chewy giraffe (because somehow that is more socially acceptable). He was having none of it. He cried (and growled) until I gave him back his shoe. So off we went to the store—me, The Beast, and his beloved sneaker.
As we cruised the aisles, he angrily growled at all the other patrons. Most people smiled politely, some made worried faces and retracted the way you would if a dog snapped at you. I apologized and made jokes that he’s had his rabies shot. Again, people smiled politely, but gave us a wide berth. When we got to the ‘baking needs’ aisle, the sneaker finally fell to the floor. I knew this was my chance to pick it up and hide it from The Beast. I tucked it into my coat pocket with one hand while crinkling a bag of nuts with the other hand to divert his attention. The nuts worked for a second, but then he began his low, angry moan again. I sheepishly gave him back his sneaker now complete with floor germs. He continued to growl with the shoe in his mouth until we hit the checkout.
While waiting in line, a woman engaged The Beast in some friendly chit chat.
“Oh you’re just like a little puppy, aren’t you?! GRRRR! Who’s the puppy? WHO’S the puppy?! You’re the puppy, that’s who! Yes you are! Oh, yes you are!”
Then she barked like a dog. Her vocalise ranged in pitch from high ‘arfs’ to low ‘woofs’ and everything in between.
Feeling like having a laugh, myself, I said, “I guess that makes you the bitch!”
I don’t know what I was thinking. As soon as I saw her face, I knew she didn’t appreciate the joke. I wanted to die. I felt like a terrible comedian who had to explain her own joke. It’s not that the audience didn’t get it before the explanation; it’s just that they didn’t find it funny in the first place.
“You know…because you’re a female…and a female dog is a …bitch…”
“I get it,” she said.
“Sorry,” I mumbled.
She picked up the nearest magazine and pretended to read while The Beast desperately tried to get her attention.
I couldn’t get through the checkout fast enough. When I reached the cashier, I noticed her smiling. “I thought it was funny,” she whispered.
“Thanks,” I said.
“I guess sometimes life’s a bitch,” she said with a smile.
Then she circled my gas points and I ran away with my growling puppy baby as fast as I could.