The Two-Thousand Dollar Sock: The Final Story in BIRDS OF A LESSER PARADISE

Self knows what she feels most like writing from the kind of books she chooses to read. There was a year she read only travel books. Travel books by women. Two years ago, she decided to read books written on, or about, islands.

Hard to say what the theme was for her 2020 reading. In the early part, she read a lot of science fiction. Towards the end, she read some great books about American politics: Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy, by Larry Tye (Five Stars), and Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy, by Edward Ball.

She stayed up all night reading Megan Mayhew Bergman’s short story collection, Birds of a Lesser Paradise. (This was a year for really excellent short story collections: Caroline Kim’s The Prince of Mournful Thoughts, and Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory)

In the final story in Bergman’s collection, the main character’s dog has swallowed one of her socks. He’s done this before, the sock always works itself out. But this time, she’s not so lucky and ends up having to take the dog to the vet.

  • I said we’d do anything, but I was worried we couldn’t afford to treat him. I knew his eyes would convince me to mortgage the house, become a one-car family, eat ramen noodles five days a week.

It reminds self of that time when her beagle, Gracie, went into seizures. Self found her one morning, tongue purple and hanging out of her mouth. She rushed her to the vet, and the vet said self would have to take her to a more equipped vet hospital. They would put her in intensive care: $1,500/day. And self decided, right then and there, that she couldn’t afford it. And she cried her heart out in the vet’s office, after calling son in Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (He did not want to put her down). They let her hold Gracie when they gave her the shot. Self was depressed, non-stop crying, for at least a month. That was one of the hardest decisions she’d had to make in her life (Gracie had cancer; new tumors kept popping up, in strange places: in her mouth, under her tail, in her breasts. A new tumor a week, by the end)

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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