Do You Hear What I Hear (Two) / by Courtney Mehlhaff

For about a six-month period on my morning commute, there was a girl in her early twenties who would talk the bus driver's ear off for the entire half-hour ride downtown.  From what I could gather (because of course I was listening ... how could you avoid it), she and the driver had previously butted heads and then mended fences, and now were absolute besties.

I know this not because he brought her homemade jerky or regaled her with stories about how he traveled to Mexico every year solely to buy cheap T-shirts, but because one morning they compared prison time. He also cautioned her that, although it warmed up her apartment quite nicely, she couldn't simply leave the oven door open all night long for extra heat during the winter.

But my favorite tale was the one she told from her childhood, when her dog got hit by a car.  According to the girl, her mother completely flipped out and crawled into bed, hugging the dead dog, and animal control had to come and take it away.

Now, this is one of those disturbing gems that makes your own life seem infinitely more normal by comparison, but what really stuck with me was the girl's final commentary on the situation.  After some commiserating about pets and our attachment to them, she stated very seriously, "Yeah, I don't see myself curling up with anything dead."

She then added,  "Animal or human."

Words to live by.