On my lunch break today, I thought I’d slip out of my cubicle and do a little bargain book shopping. For the most part, the only bookstores in Edmonton are Chapters franchises (the Canadian equivalent of Barnes & Noble), and so I was excited to discover a little hole-in-the-wall used bookstore, just like the ones I used to frequent in Boston, and only a couple blocks away from my office!
The Wee Book Inn, it is called, and it was just the kind place I’d been looking for. As I walked up to the counter with my purchases – vintage children’s books, $1 a piece! – I noticed a sign alerting customers to the resident pussycat. Feeling chatty and more than a little smug about my finds, I said to the clerk, “So where’s your cat? This sign says you have a cat; it better not be false advertising.”
“Actually, Muffin passed away two weeks ago,” he said, choking up. “I’d had him for 18 years.”
I grabbed my bag and my change and left as quickly as I could. I figured I should get back to the office before I made anyone else cry.
I thought my day couldn’t get any weirder, but then, about a block from my office, I noticed the woman stopped at the crosswalk next to me had a grey parrot perched on her hand. He was sitting there just as calm as he could be, although cars were whizzing past, and quite a few passengers where craning their necks to get a better look at the spectacle. Then, without warning, the parrot opened his big hooked beak and bit down on the woman’s lips.
“Ohmygod!” I screamed, “Are you OK?”
She just looked at me in bewilderment, and then, wiggling her lips out of the bird’s beak, said, “What? He’s just giving me a kiss.” She gave me a look as if I were the one walking down a busy city street with a two-foot parrot stuck on my face and proceeded to walk off, kissing the bird all the way.
I walked back to the office as fast as I could, not even stopping to say “hi” to the receptionist, afraid that if I so much as opened my mouth I’d offend someone else or their pet. Thank goodness it’s Friday.