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Janet Elaine Smith "Star" Books

Chico Tails Excerpt

Chapter 3
Gave a Hoot

A big problem with having an imaginary dog is having to write so many letters of apology. My latest had to do with Chico’s behavior at a local Hooter’s Restaurant.
My wife and I (actually mainly me) are trying to determine how best to address his growing-up problems and offer no excuses. We think they stem from his being home alone a lot. One of us used to take him to work with us, which was no problem, what with him being imaginary and all, but it became a problem when he started showing off his computer skills. That, along with both of us car-pooling (separately, I might mention), led our vet to warn of the possibility of his developing a case of car-pool tunnel syndrome.
The Hooter’s incident started with Rolph, our next-door neighbor’s dog, whom he likes to pal around with, suggesting that women still love Frank Sinatra songs so much they are putty in the hands of anyone knowing the lyrics. At first blush, this sounded innocent enough, but when Chico insisted on testing this theory, there was no talking him out of it.
So, over my objections, he and I (my wife refused to come) ended up at Hooter’s, where Joanne, the bartender, greeted us. As soon as we were seated Chico said, “Set ‘em up, Jo; I’ve got a little story I want you to know,” in the most meloncholiest of ways that even I was impressed. That, and his big brown eyes looking so sad, how could Joanne resist?
He followed by ordering “One for my baby and one more for the toad.” I heard what he said, but chose to ignore it. When she asked “Of what?” he said, “Fast Gin Fizz,” to which I quickly said, “Slow down, Chico. I think he means sloe, Jo,” whereby Joanne seemed really confused. In spite of this, she asked, “How do you want it?” to which he responded, “In a bowl,” whereby I quickly interjected, “Crush, please.” Anyone owning a dog knows what a mess they make trying to chew ice cubes.
Chico continued his conversation with, “You make me feel so young, you make me feel there are songs to be sung.” I know it sounds corny, but she was falling for it, leash, collar and dog tag.
He followed with, “I’ve got you under my skin,” to which she said, “Don’t you mean fur?” Without bothering to answer, he merely continued, “I’ve got you deep in the heart of me.”
Jo countered with, “My silly Valentine, sweet comic Valentine, you make me smile with my heart,” to which Chico responded, “The very thought of you and I forget to do the little ordinary things that everyone ought to do; and apparently you do too, Jo, so could you please get our drinks?”
I was, to say the least, very impressed with how far he had come so quickly. The process seemed to be working so well I was already thinking about patenting and copywriting this ‘sure-fire’ female pick-up technique and considering quitting my job. I figured all it might cost was a little extra Gravy Master on his food.
Jo returned with the drinks, but seemed distracted and flustered, whereby she spilt his drink on him. It didn’t seem to faze her, as she proceeded to dry him off, saying—very seductively I might mention, “I’ve got your crush on you, sweetie pie.”
Rather than being upset, Chico displayed a sensitive side I’d not seen before, conveying this message to me while she rested her head on his shoulder. “She may be weary; women do get weary, wearing the same shabby dress.” To me her outfit looked pretty skimpy, but who knows where he was looking that led to his conclusion. Then again, I’m not exactly sure where I was looking either.
Suddenly Chico jumped off his bar stool, pulled out a yoyo and proceeded to walk the man while saying, “I’ve got the world on a string.” Just as he got to the door, the most beautiful French Poodle Chico had ever seen appeared. Without breaking stride he said, “Start spreading the news, we’re leaving today.”
Turns-out Fifi was Jo’s dog, and in the next few seconds, she fell for the Sinatra lines even faster than Jo. Last thing we heard Fifi say was, “Just one look at you, my heart grew tipsy in me. You and you alone bring out the gypsy in me,” followed by Chico’s, “I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps,” and they were gone.
So why the need for a letter of apology, you ask? Well, because they returned only after maxing out Fifi’s credit cards and because Fifi is now so contented she thinks she’s a cat and is always purring.
So that’s the story surrounding my latest letter of apology, although Joanne must share some of the blame. Had she asked for Chico’s ID she would have never served him alcohol because he’s only 2, although he looks and acts much more mature than that.


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