Charlie The Kid: It’s called a “Coati.”
Cassie: How do you spell it?
CTK: C-O-A-T-I….as in “COAT” with an “I” at the end.
Cassie: Ahhh. Is that why we had to come all the way to Lodi, NJ… to this godforsaken Exotic Pets place? To see this Coati?
CTK: Yes. And to view other animals. (Moving toward a row of smaller glass tanks.) Here are some hairless rats.
(I stifle a gag.)
CTK: Totally adorable.
Cassie: Not really.
CTK: Come here. In the back, there are pigs.
Cassie: Guinea pigs? I already know about guinea pigs.
CTK: No. Not guinea pigs, Mom. Mini pigs. Like pigs on a farm. You can have them for pets…in your house.
(Charlie The Kid leads me to the back of the store. I try to ignore all the glass cages that house lizards and snakes. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch a very long boa or python or some such. Trying hard not to retch, I avert my eyes and rush forward to where Charlie is pointing vigorously at piles of shredded newspaper inside an extremely large glass tank.Two mounds of black bodies are scrunched together in one corner. Mini pigs. One is snuffling and trying to burrow his nose into the side of his cage mate. Yes! I’ll admit it. These piggies are quite cute. We study the pigs, sleeping and snuffling and burrowing for some time.
Then, I notice a couple of signs posted on the outside of the tank. One says, “$300 for each female pig. Males — $450 each.” The other sign reads, “These piggies need a home. Special Christmas sale. Piggies now $150 each!” That seems like a bargain…for such an adorable mini pig. Should you have two pigs, though? Surely they need a friend, a partner? What do mini pigs eat? Slops, right?)
CTK: These pigs are almost as cute as the coati.
Cassie: You think? I think they are cuter.
CTK: Everyone’s entitled to their opinion.
Cassie: (shaking my head as if to snap myself out of a dream) This cuteness is too much. We absolutely cannot have a pig. Simone the bull dog would go crazy. To contend with Daffodil and a mini pig at the same time! It would just be too much for her.
CTK: Not necessarily.
Cassie: And your father….he’d have a cow! (Pause) Why are we here? Why was I convinced to bring you to this exotic pet store anyway, huh?
CTK: So we can dream our dreams.
Cassie: Dream our dreams!? What the…You didn’t honestly think we would get you something like a coati or a mini pig as a gift for for Christmas did you?
CTK: No, no, no. Of course not.
Cassie: Right. I mean really….
(I start pushing/directing Charlie The Kid toward the entrance of the store. At the front counter, by the cashier, where one might pay for an exotic pet, Charlie pauses to chat with the owner/manager. I refuse to engage in any conversation with the man – as if somehow speaking to the guy would indicate a willingness on my part to purchase a pig! I am not going to buy a pig!!!
The owner/manager hands Charlie The Kid a couple of business cards and gives him a wink.
(Back at the car)
Cassie: We are NOT getting a coati or a mini pig or a hairless rat. Definitely not a hairless rat!
CTK: Oh, I know. Not this year anyway.
CTK: I’m just planting the seeds for the future.
Cassie: What future? Your own personal future?
CTK: Maybe. (Pause, then quickly, under his breath) Or, you know, Christmas 2018.