My post grad plan is to make a fake documentary called “Petnapping: the most adorable crime”, comprised of a series of staged pet thefts (mostly dogs and cats) and interviews with the owners and perpetrators. Most of the scenes are of crimes of passion (citizen turned thief by these vampiresses of cuteness), and thereby raise the question: if something so wholesome as falling in love with a dog can turn a man into a criminal, ought we re-evaluate this category?
But in one scene, the crime is pre-meditated and wholly unsympathetic: a man kidnaps a wealthy person’s dog and holds it for ransom. He threatens to feed the dog one square of chocolate every hour until the ransom is paid. The original owner, distraught at the very prospect of a poisoned pup, scrambles to pay the ransom, but encounters a series of obstacles beyond their control. The ransomer is going through with his plan; shots of the dog eagerly lapping up chocolate squares are cut against the owner’s distraught face. Four chocolate squares in, the dog is getting visibly sick, but it is still eagerly lapping up the chocolate squares, blithely gobbling its doom; but, cut to the ransomer’s face: he is in pain. He can not keep up his plan; he has fallen in love. He cancels the ransom, but cannot bring himself to return the dog (he would never be able to see it again), and, in a panic, flees to Canada with his best friend (the dog). The scene ends, but the question remains: Is this his redemption? If so, why does our society demand his effective banishment?
The film will probably include the following monologue:
See the tragic irony with like cats and stuff, is that the type of person I think who’s probably most eager to pet them, is also probably the most attuned to when the cat or whatever doesn’t want to be petted. So let’s just say I’m that type of person. Travelling in foreign countries is hard for me, because I feel, as a tourist, like I shouldn’t just pet people’s dogs. And I’m in a foreign country, everything’s already so strange, I feel like I should be careful, like I probably shouldn’t pet strays either, but sometimes I do, but like I don’t know the status of rabies vaccinations wherever I am. I would look that up beforehand, but whenever I sit down at the computer to do so, I just think, “no, c’mon John, you can refrain from petting stray dogs while you’re in Prussia for like two goddamn weeks,” And so I refrain, because I think it’ll be good for my willpower, and, while I think it’s generally endearing to be really eager to pet cute animals, it would maybe be a little trying, for like a potential life partner, maybe, if I literally couldn’t refrain from doing so. So I end up not looking up the rabies status in Prussia before I go there, and it kills me. It just kills me.
But the reason I bring all this up, is that, like I said, the type of person who’s most eager to pet cute animals, is generally more likely to be aware of when the animal doesn’t want to be petted. That’s not quite what I said, I guess. I revised the formulation somewhat. It’s more scientific, a little more sure of itself. It’s hard to get 100% behind a statement like that right when you say it, I think. It’s reassuring to see that I haven’t abandoned my formulation after a paragraph’s consideration. It’s just that, nothing’s so frustrating for me, than seeing someone, who I don’t really know, because most of my good friends don’t do this, although my sister does, which really drives me pretty crazy. It drives me crazy. Just the way she was picking up her friend’s new kitten the other day, she would scoop it up, her palm on its belly, and then, with her other hand, she’d pull back its skin, as if the kitten needed a facelift (it was only two months old!), so the ears would be pressed down, and its eyes became little diagonal slits, and the kitten was so scared. Kittens are simply not that OK with being held, and if you come across a kitten that does want to be held, that is a blessing, people, and it really just ruins this, I think, to just hold a terrified kitten against its will. Like, seriously, how cute is that really? This kitten is literally trembling with fear, pressed into this like gross caricature of human comfort, and its bearer is projecting onto the kitten this neurotic fantasy, it is neurotic, of a return to infancy, to the warmth of your mother’s breast. But I’ve got news for you people: that is not what it means to be an infant kitten. That’s why I always pick kittens up by the scruff of the neck. That’s how they’re comfortable. They let their muscles relax, and God knows they deserve it, these animals are always on the prowl, they’re just little spring-traps waiting to go off, and I think it’s just so nice to see them relax, but meanwhile, my goddamn friend, or like my sister, will go off on me with this completely ridiculous anthropocentric rant like “oh my God, how can you hold the cat like that,” as if these self-assured brats never stopped to consider that not every mammal goes through an identical infancy. Although I guess my sister can at least get behind a statement when she says it.
But anyway, I made this joke, which I think was kinda subversive, and actually really socially responsible, to be honest, kind of about taking the whole “cuddling an animal against its will” thing to its logical extreme. Well it all started one night at my friend’s house when I was sitting on the couch with my friend’s dog, this hilarious old bloodhound, and it was so sleepy and cute, and its head lay by my legs, and it seemed to be enjoying my petting it, but I guess I was a little greedy, to be honest, and I just really wanted it to lay its head on my thigh while it was falling asleep, but of course that’s ridiculous, because I would probably want to get up before the dog did, like it wasn’t even my couch, and I can’t sleep sitting up, and like, presumably the dog didn’t have that kind of foresight, and it still didn’t put its head on my thigh to fall asleep, so it clearly didn’t want to. And I was just sitting on the couch and all my friends were in this room and I couldn’t say anything because all I wanted, it took all my will, not to like pick up this dog’s head in my hand and scooch my thigh underneath. It was so hard for me, and I just started thinking, “what if I did it, what if I was that type of person who would selfishly cuddle this dog while it was trying to sleep, with absolutely no regard for the animal’s welfare?” But of course I’m not, like I’ve seen my sister sit next to dogs and unless like she’s doing her performance, “Oh look how much I like cute animals,” it’s like the dog’s not even there, but it was so hard for me, sitting next to this dog, who wanted to cuddle, I think, but not as much as I would’ve liked it to, and, as I said, I thought about taking that vein of selfishness to its logical extreme, and I just started making these jokes, and also I was a little drunk at the time, but I said, “What if I just took a needle, and I sewed this dog onto my thigh while it was asleep, and I sewed like three cats onto my arm and I sewed rabbits onto my back and my torso, so I would always just be cuddling like ten cute animals?”
It was really embarrassing for me, because that’s not who I am. I realized I just said it because I was mad at my sister, but she wasn’t even there, and she wouldn’t even have got it if she were there, and all of the people there just said that that was disgusting and that I shouldn’t say that, except one girl, who I think I’m in love with, who laughed so hard. She couldn’t stop laughing I think because she got my joke.
I’m sorry, I just wrote this because I thought it might be good for people to think about what it means to really love cute animals, and of course there’s also quite a bit to be said about socializing animals, or getting them used to your touch, in order to develop a truly close companionship, but I also just wrote this to explain that joke I guess, I really just wanted to do that, to clarify that when I’m saying “I want to sew this dog into my arm,” I’m really saying “look at all of you, you self-assured ear-nuzzlers, so certain that this dog is desiring of your attention, look at your loose translations of cross-specie affection, dispensed without a moment’s consideration, without even a notion that the dog may prefer its face the way its skin falls naturally,” but of course maybe it doesn’t, because our dog’s always happier to see her than me.