Gerald’s Talking Dog
By Maggie Thompson
Gerald’s Talking Dog loves cherries. That’s all he ever talks about. It wasn’t always this way, though. You see, before me, all Gerald’s Talking Dog could say was that he hated cherries. In fact, for many people, it was this reason that Mr. Whiffle was less a phenomenon and more an annoying uncle around the Holidays.
When Gerald first brought Mr. Whiffle to my therapy office he thought cherries were the worst fruit in the world. He said, “Eating cherries is like getting neutered by a mailman.”
He maligned the fruit for almost 30 minutes before I piped in, “This problem of yours is about more than cherries, Mr. Whiffle, isn’t it?” The dog looked at me, perplexed, and began to whimper. “There’s something else there, under the skin. Tell me about your first time with the fruit.”
He sat, looked into his soul and began, “My first cherry. Yes, I will always remember the first time. It was early August. The summer sun warmed my fur, I was walking Gerald through the fields in Beulah. Gerald unleashed me and I ran through an old cherry orchard, that’s when…” He stopped for a moment. In the absence of words his brow tightened and a growl formed in the back of his throat.
“That’s when I met her.”
“Her?” Uh-oh, I knew this deep seeded cherry revulsion stemmed from something else. “Who was she?”
“Birdie.” He whined, “She was beautiful. She smelled like orange blossoms and fresh hops. She sang softy, and flew gracefully overhead with the prettiest blonde feathers, and man was she leggy.” Mr. Whiffle began to pant as he reclaimed memories of Birdie. “She led me beneath a tree, plucked a cherry from the branch and fed me. The fruit was incredible, flavors bursting with each bite. The sweet-tart balance, even the color of the fruit. We ate until we were nearly sick, savoring every bite.” Mr. Whiffle paused for a moment.
“And where is Birdie now?” I asked, thinking we might be able to get to the pit of the problem.
“She left me in the cold that late autumn and took with her the sun, took with her the sweetness of life. Everything has been bitter, dark and stormy ever since.”
“A snow bird, a rain maker,” I said. “She flew off to the farthest shore and took your love for cherries with her.”
“Well, Guvn’r, here’s what I think. You have a right to be sad, to feel heartbreak. But you can’t live that way forever. It’s time to make new memories and start over. Love is like cherries. Some are good in pies, some are made for jam, some can be eaten right off the branch, but some…” I said while uncapping a bottle made by a local brewery, “are good for beers.” I handed it over to Mr. Whiffle. One sip was all it took.
“Cherry beer?” he said, slurping the Belgian Rye Dubbel. “I’m in love.”