I hear a soft rustle at the front of the store. “Hi. I’d like to adopt a cat,” the cheerful voice says.
The clerk behind the counter replies in a monotone voice, “Oh…well…uh…we have to have a manager around to do that.”
“Okay. Great. Can you get one?” Cheerful asks.
More rustling. “Uhhh…no,” says Monotone firmly. “So sorry. Managers are only here on weekdays. You’ll have to come back next week.”
“Really?” Cheerful says, “but I’d really like to take one home today.”
“Hmmmm…” Monotone stops for a second as if contemplating some great universe mystery, “Mmmm…Which one were you thinking about?”
With enthusiasm, Cheerful blurts out, “I really like Angus. I think he’d fit in perfectly to my home. I just lost one of my precious babies last week. I’m heartbroken, but I think my other baby really needs a companion. I miss my sweet cat, but he had a nice long life and we loved him until the end. Now we all need a new furry baby to love.”
I can’t see them. I can only hear them. I keep shuffling through the hangers of used clothes. Red, blue, green. Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic, Gap. Lace, print, stripes. Small, medium, large. I hear their voices again. Immediately I envision one of the young dark, short-haired, pierced-up volunteer girls in the brightly colored volunteer t-shirt behind the counter. She may even have one of those forced smiles on her face with a bit of the “I am a true animal lover and you’re…NOT” ‘tude behind it. Cheerful’s voice sounds like one of those mystery-aged older woman who may be wearing purple with wild gray curly hair. She’s probably even wearing Birkenstocks and some old Beatles t-shirt. Or maybe she’s got high-water jeans on with socks and Teva sandals. Either way I know she’s standing on the other side of the glass case looking at Monotone with one of those understanding Eugene smiles while reaching into her Peruvian rainbow purse to grab a credit card.
“Yeeaah. Cats really do need companions,” replies Monotone softly. “Ummm…did you see, or even think about, Furbie? He’s a reeaally nice cat.”
“No. I want Angus,” says cheerful. “He’s short-haired and would fit in better to my home, and is exactly what I am looking for.”
“Oh I’m sure he’s a great cat,” Cheerful responds, ”but I’ve looked at all the cats and have pretty much settled on Angus. He’s exactly what I want and he’s been super friendly with me. Yeah…I want Angus.”
Without missing a beat I hear Monotone say, “You should really consider Furbie. Follow me and I’ll show him to you again. I know you’ll like him.” Monotone’s voice starts to drift as she moves through the store, “You can even pet him and see what you think.”
Still at the front counter I hear Cheerful say, “But I like Angus…”
“It’ll take only a minute to see Furbie, ” says Monotone, “He’s one my favorites and I’d really like to see him go to a good home.”
Resigned, Cheerful’s voice is then on the move too. “Okay…but I like Angus…”
The door opens to the back cat (stink) house. I peek from the clothing rack. Just as I suspected—a short, dark-haired, pierced-up 20-something woman in a bright lime-green t-shirt. She walks through the door first, followed quickly by the post-50, reluctant, Angus-holdout. The door slams. It’s quiet again.
No more then five minutes pass before I hear the creak of the glass screen door again. Voices are intermingled as they move back to the front counter.
“Furbie is really nice,” Cheerful says, “but I still think I’ve settled on Angus.”
“Well…” Monotone is shuffling papers. “Here. You think some more about Furbie, and, in the meantime, take home our application to fill out. You don’t have small children, do you? Or any other pets?”
Cheerful stops. “Yes. I already told you I have another cat and a dog too.”
“Yes. Is that a problem?”
I can tell Monotone is choosing her words carefully. “Not a problem really. But. Well. We kind of…. We DO like the families that adopt our animals have a safe environment for them. You know…after all…being an animal guardian is a big responsibility.”
“Yes. You’re right,” replies Cheerful, “but you wouldn’t have to worry about my dog. He is quite safe. Actually he’s afraid of my cats. When my other cat was alive the felines truly ruled the house and the dog ran way from them.” Cheerful laughs, “No. Really. Absolutely nothing to worry about with my dog.”
Monotone thrusts her hand toward Cheerful, “Well…take an application anyway. Fill it out. You can bring it back next week when a manager is here—and then we’ll come to your home to interview you.”
I hear Cheerful kinda sigh, “Interview?”
“Yes,” Monotone states, “We don’t just let everyone who fills out an application have a cat. We are very selective in our process and want to make sure it’s the best fit for the cat.”
Cheerful gathers her belongings and the application. “See you next week,” she chimes as she moves out the front door.
I’ve move on to the dishes. Portlandia. I live in it. Only this is Eugenelandia. 109 miles south of Portland on the I-5 corridor. And this shop: my favorite 2nd-hand store in town besides “Dumpies.” Only steps away from my house. Awesome treasures, and great fodder for blog posts—or a weird reality TV show.
Wish I new what day Cheerful was coming back. I would for sure come to look for some other treasure that I couldn’t possibly live without—and eavesdrop. Then I would find out: Angus or Furbie.