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My Dog's Last Name
People think I have a crush on you. Explain to me, then, why my head didn’t spin, my heart didn’t skip, and my face didn’t redden when I first saw you. I even met you in the way I have always thought ironically romantic, the same way my characters meet when I compose stories in my head. I ran into you, on the way to math class. I don’t know why that seems so romantic, but for some reason it always has to me. So when you bent down to get your books, then stood back up, hitting me in the head and giving me a bloody nose, you ruined it for me. Thanks a lot.
Not only did you have to ruin my romantic fantasy, you are genuinely annoying. You won’t stop running your mouth about sports, or video games, or things that I can’t make sense of. You talk about stupid stuff, toothpaste and faux-bo’s (those guys you assure me dress up like hobos but are actually rich), and, once again, sports. Yet you make it seem like college math, somehow boggling my mind with the concept of pencils.
You drive me crazy when you ask questions that seem to have an answer, but the way you look at them, don’t. Once you asked me what the stray dog you took care of had as a last name. Did he still carry his owner’s last name? Or share yours? Or was he just Newton, stuck between families and identities. When I told you dogs didn’t have last names, you frowned at me.
“Then what do you call them when you are mad at them?”
I didn’t have an answer, and you laughed, saying you thought his last name was Anderson – you’re last name.
You’re extremely smart, yet are flippant about it, preferring to ponder useless things rather than use your brain to rise up the respect ladder. You effortlessly got perfect grades, then came right down to spend lunch with me, one of the lowest readings on the popular-o-meter, and talk about last names for your dog. I admire you for that. The admiration doesn’t sit right with me, like an internal itch I can’t scratch. You and your philosophy drive me crazy – I can’t admire you for it.
Everything about you bothers me, from your endlessly working mouth, to your philosophy, to your perfect grades, to your amiable response to my coldness. It even bothers me that, somehow without my permission, you have been able to make yourself my best friend. You annoy me, Brady Anderson.
Over the years, you started to push my buttons less. I realized that, though I had never wanted you there, you were always at my side when I needed you. As my self-confidence grew, I became able to enjoy your conversations. I played your little mind game with you, no longer feeling like a complete idiot compared to you. Not only did I stop despising you, I began to actually like you. In eleventh grade, you asked me out, and I said yes. After hating you for five years I fell in love with you. Wouldn’t you love to philosophize about that.
We sit at our favorite table, in our favorite café. I feel a strange desire to bring back simpler times, when we would go to this café and I would sit here hating and admiring you, while you fantasized about being a faux-bo.
“You know, I decided something a little while ago.” You looked up from your mocha.
“I decided to get a puppy. I haven’t had one for over a year.” You looked at me sympathetically, knowing how hard it had been to let my last dog, Sebastian, go after sixteen years of friendship.
“That sounds great! Have you picked one out yet?” Your voice was earnest, but your eyes were distracted. I realized my conversation must have cut you off from something he had wanted to say. You needed to be more spontaneous – you always thought for a while before you said something. It used to annoy me, now I thought it funny.
“Yes, her name is Ariel, I brought her home from the shelter yesterday. Didn’t sleep a wink.” You smiled.
“You know, not sleeping is as bad for your reflexes as drinking.” You had told me that before.
“I know, but she’s worth it.” Silence fell between us again, as it often did when you were thinking. “Brady?”
“What do you think her last name is? Hansen?” I could almost see a light click on behind your eyes as you thought.
“How about Anderson?” I looked up from the shake I had just taken a sip of, surprised and confused. He was down on one knee, holding out a gorgeous diamond ring. “Felicity, will you marry me?” I squealed.
“Yes!” He smiled, genuinely elated as he slid the ring onto my thin finger.
“Good. Because I love you, and I think Anderson is a nice last name for a dog.” I grinned.