The Puppy

By Kate Scarpetta


We got a puppy. That's what gay couples do shortly after they move in together. We signed a one-year lease on a two-bedroom loft in Chelsea—another thing that gay couples do—which neither one of us could afford. We named him, Bitch, because that's the kind of name gay couples give their dogs. Bitch came from the pound; all gay couples adopt their dogs, even the couples that can actually afford to buy from a reputable breeder. We thought Bitch was the ugliest puppy available—gay couples like to love things that other people don't approve of.

We took Bitch to Doggy Style, because that's where gay couples take their pets to get groomed. We fed Bitch organic 19.98/lb. dog food purchased from Wholefoods, because that's where gay couples buy their groceries. We took a holiday on Fire Island and paid eighty-five dollars per day for Bitch to stay at the Schnowza Spa, because gay couples don't have any friends that stay in the city on the weekend when it gets over 95 degrees.

Gay couples rush order a new pair of Mark Nason boots when their puppy chews through their partner's original pair. Gay couples have great sex after events like this happen. Gay couples close the door on their puppy when they're having sex; we always apologized to Bitch when we did this.

We knitted a rainbow sweater for Bitch to wear at Pride, because even the gay couples who say they hate Pride attend Pride. We treated Bitch like a child—the one that we'd never have—because that's what gay couples who know that they won't stay a couple forever do. Like other gay couples who adopt puppies instead of children, we thought this was a "responsible" and "realistic" thing to do. It was "responsible" because instead of permanently damaging a child's life we were dressing a mutt in Technicolor puppy sweaters. Gay couples fear constructing bad childhoods, because at least one partner had a bad childhood. It was "realistic" because neither one of us was actually ready to settle down and be monogamous, and because jealousy is real and destroys everything.

We made each other walk the dog for a week if we found out that one of us fucked some other dude, because that's the kind of punishment gay couples come up with for events that would send a straight couple directly to their therapist or lawyer. We tried to make it work because that's what all couples gay or straight should do. We became frustrated with our own and our partner's horniness, because that's what frustrates gay couples. We flirted with other men who were walking their dogs for the same reason we were—that's what gay couples don't think will happen. We screwed up again and got another week of duty but this time it was to not walk the dog for a week, and we just sat on our couch pouting and driving ourselves insane thinking about all the hotties our partner was chatting with while Bitch took a shit.

We sent Bitch to obedience school, Manners For Mutts, taught by a hot dark bear named Anthony in the basement of the West Village YMCA; both of us suspected that the other had slept with him at some point, because all gay couples know their partner's type and Anthony turned both of us on. I slept with Anthony and so did my partner; gay couples never know how to handle this situation. Three-way? Apology? We walked Bitch together that week, because gay couples, even when they can't stand each other anymore, cling before they distance themselves. Gay couples aren't against couple's therapy, but most, like us, had already gone with an old boyfriend. We didn't want to drag it out; we wanted to still like each other, fuck each other, and take care of Bitch together, because even (especially) gay couples are nostalgic like that.

Gay couples who break up might be friends or they might wish their ex's dick would shrivel up and fall off inside of their new boyfriend's asshole. Gay couples who aren't couples anymore find out how puny the gay scene is - in the supposedly well-endowed Big Apple, we saw each other everywhere. For the sake of their puppy some gay couples make attempts at true civility as opposed to passive aggressive cock-waving: we had visitation rights for Bitch. Gay couples that just broke up behave dramatically.

At first, when he'd come to pick up Bitch, he would bring his new fuck along. He saw how unfair that was and stopped doing it. New gay couples that can't stop touching each other, must stop touching each other when they're around each other's exes. They moved in together. That's what gay couples that can't stop touching each other do. He asked me if I wanted to keep our puppy, that's what guys who are so over you say when they want to spend more time with their new boyfriend instead of hanging on to a pseudo-responsibility covered in fur and drool. I didn't give him the satisfaction of "saying goodbye," because I was hurt and when gay guys get hurt they get catty and make things worse. Gay couples never hurt their puppy, just each other.

I was walking Bitch down Christopher Street, and I ran into Marcus—a different old boyfriend who cheated on me—even gay men who say they'll never let it happen again, let it happen again. The leash let go like I couldn't, and Bitch got bitch-slapped by a teal Vespa. The Asian man on the Vespa pretended not to be able to speak English the same way gay kids pretend to not be gay in middle school: by being quiet, nodding, and walking away. Bitch curled up against his bloody paws in the middle of the street and made vacuum cleaner sounds. All gay couples own Dyson vacuums; Bitch was scared of the vacuum and of dying. Ex-boyfriends that cheated want to help the person they cheated on and Marcus was no different. He picked Bitch up before I had a chance to remember where I was.

When old boyfriends do nice things, the temptation to sleep with them despite how shitty they treated you in the past arises. Gay men are allowed to rebound with an ex when times get rough. Bitch was in a body cast, and I needed to be held. Marcus and I didn't get back together, because gay couples don't get back together after they break up. They might flirt, fight, and fuck, but they never get back together. After two weeks, Bitch downgraded from a body cast to a space-cone around his neck so that he wouldn't bite his tail off.

Gay men will hit on other gay men that stick out, and Bitch's cone made it pretty hard not to stick out when I took him for walks. That's how I met Bernard. Bernard, like all gay men in New York, knew that I was single again. We went for drinks and one thing led to another. A week of what gay people do when they're into each other passed. Bernard was lying in bed, and I was putting my shoes on, when he told me that his landlord wasn't going to allow tenants to have dogs anymore. Bernard had a Dalmatian named Peaches who he got when he was dating George, who wasn't a real fire fighter, but who pretended to be a horny one when he danced at "Wet!" on Saturdays. Gay men help other gay men out, especially when it means a temporary end to being alone. Bernard moved in. We extended the lease for another year. Peaches and Bitch don't really like each other, but Bernard and I don't really like each other either, so they won't have to deal with it for much longer.

 

Kate Scarpetta Originally from Crystal Lake, Pennsylvania, Kate Scarpetta recently received a BA in English from Princeton University,  where she attended fiction workshops led by Edmund White, Joyce Carol Oates, and Jeffrey Eugenides. She was awarded “Outstanding Work by a Senior” from the Creative Writing Department. Before she even thinks about getting her MFA, she will try to play competitive golf to the best of her ability. She currently resides in central Florida. This story is dedicated to her good friend, Carlos Velez. Her website is www.katescarpetta.com

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