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I like to cut along the dotted line.

That’s what I like to do.

Of course, you’re welcome to cut in any way you see fit. I believe that’s up to you. You can--If you want to go all outside the box with it, that’s fine. I don’t mind that at all. Who am I to mind? I’m a big nobody-at-all, that’s who I am.

I like to cut out little dogs and cats for posting all over the classroom. The kids love dogs and cats. I like to let them name the dogs and cats once they’re thumb-tacked to the walls. It’s a little ceremony we do, the kids and me, naming the paper animals.

Sometimes I do a goat, but not often. Not often at all, because one year, I did a goat made out of--Oh, I did a lovely job with it, if I do say so myself. Not to brag. I did a lovely job with it using this pretty paper I had gotten from Margot’s supply store. It’s out of business now, because Margot decided she’d rather take off her clothes for money on camera, and do you believe she makes six figures doing that now? Right from her home. And she’s no spring chicken, not that I am either, but you won’t see me dangling my doo-dads on the computer. That’s for sure. But where was I?

Yes, the goat.

I made the goat, and it was lifelike. It looked more lifelike than you would think. What with it being made out of construction paper and what-all. But very natural looking.

I hung the goat up right near my desk, because I was real proud of it, and the day we had our naming ceremony, the kids come in, and I tell them to find a paper animal that they like--one per customer, kids--that’s what I say--and I told them they could name the animal, and that’s how they’d practice writing for the day. They could write the animal’s new name on a sticker, and stick it right under the construction paper.

Well, you know, if I’m being honest with you, I didn’t really expect anyone to pick the goat, because it wasn’t near any of the other animals, but wouldn’t you know it, Tobey Bishop went right over to it, and he asked if he could name it.

Now, if I had a brain in my head, I should have known that little--

Tobey Bishop is known for--

Well, the whole family is known for being a little odd. Put a million almonds on the ground, and Tobey Bishop is going to spot the peanut and ask if he can pick that one up instead while the rest of us are just trying to gather our almonds.

Leave it to him to find a goat instead of minding his own business and just picking a simple dog or cat after I spent all that time making sure all the dogs and cats looked the same so no child would feel more special than another.

I do the ears the same. Nice point at the top.

I give each one a nice little red bow tie.

I make sure each one has a little tongue sticking out.

But the goat was just cut out so it looked like it was chewing on some cud. No bow tie, just a pair of blue slacks. One horn crooked a little.

I loved it all the same--more than the dogs and cats I had to cut out every year, because it came upon me all unexpected. I just felt the scissors making their way through the crisp, carrot-colored paper and I knew something important was coming.

But then it was just a goat.

All the same, I wanted to be the one to name it.

When Tobey Bishop was standing there, in front of my desk, grubby little finger on his chin, like he didn’t know damn well what he was going to name it, I had half a mind to rip the goat off the wall, and shove it in my drawer. Tell Tobey to go pick a nice dog and name that instead.

But fair is fair, and fair was--I didn’t tell the kids that the goat was off-limits.

All the other children had already named their dogs and cats, and stuck their stickers underneath them with nice, quaint names like “Puppy” and “Fritz.”

When Tobey Bishop snapped his fingers, I felt a rage bubble up in me like the kind I haven’t felt since I smashed all the windows at the floral shop that night I took too many of my blue pills and not enough of my light blue ones. Of course, it’s easy to get mixed up when you have eyes as bad as mine. Not to mention the fact that if the floral shop had just refunded me for those roses that didn’t smell like roses, I wouldn’t have gotten mad in the first place.

Tobey Bishop snaps his fingers like he’s a little Danny Thomas and he goes--


As if the goat was a woman. A Russian woman, nonetheless. I told him the goat was most certainly not a female goat and that she certainly wasn’t a Russian female goat, because I was the one who cut the goat out, and I am an American, and anything I make is going to be American made--through and through.

Tobey didn’t like hearing that very much, and the next thing I know, he’s on the ground, kicking and wailing, and telling me I wasn’t being fair.

As he’s yowling, I try telling him that a lot of things aren’t fair in life--including me having to teach booger-babies like the Bishop clan--two of whom I had already tried instructing about multiplication and PEMDAS and the poems of Thoreau, and the only thing I could get through those un-shampooed Bishop brains were to cover your mouth when you cough, and even then, it only took some of the time.

The heaving and hobgoblining Tobey was doing drew the attention of Principal Patterson, who just happened to be walking by, and sure enough, like most Principals do, he butted his big head in, and told me to let the boy name the goat whatever he wanted, since this was the first day of the school, and there was still a lot to get to, like having all the students write their emergency contact on a white index card, even though it was going to be the same contact they’d had the year before, since these were third graders, and we already knew exactly who they were and who they were going to keep on being from year to year.

That’s how I spent a whole year having a paper goat right near my desk with the foolhardy name of “Katerina” written in poor penmanship in a slapdash manner on a sticker underneath my best creation. Tobey smirked the whole time he was writing it out, and I could’ve tossed him in one of the cubbey holes, I was so mad.

On the last day of school, as soon as everybody was gone, I ripped down that goat, and I threw the scraps in the garbage, and then I took out my stash of matches for when I want to look into a flame on my lunch break in the parking lot, and I set those scraps on fire.

Imagine naming a goat “Katerina.”

There isn’t a piece of art in this world that’s so beautiful somebody can’t come along and find a way to ruin it.

That’s what I learned.

That’s a lesson you never forget.

October 13, 2020 04:58

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1 comment

Uddipona Baruah
05:07 Oct 23, 2020

I love how you weaved the story in such a creative manner and yet managed to describe the emotions in a manner that it brought the story to life and still gave you a good laugh while reading it. The simplest of stories or ideas are the most difficult to write and you did it extremely well by keeping it subtle but descriptively engaging. Very well done :)


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