I recently came across a wonderful series of flashes from Kathleen Rooney and Elisa Gabbert, Collaborative Jokes, in Davis Schneiderman’s The &NOW Awards 2 Anthology, “which features writing as a contemporary art form: writing as it is practiced today by authors who consciously treat their work as an art, as well as a skill explicitly aware of its own literary and extra-literary history–as much about its form and materials, language is about its subject matter.” Here is the first in the series:
The one about the dog.
A poodle walks into a bar. The poodle wants to 1) have fun, 2) make money, 3) meet other dogs who think they’re people. She’s not poor, so why wouldn’t she hold herself to higher ethical standards than those struggling to cling to the base of Maslow’s pyramid? A kind of cartography, a dangerous fantasy. Business is pleasure. She answers to the name of Fauna. You wouldn’t know it from her haircut, but she hates in-group conformism. There’s alcoholism, & then there’s social dependency.
I’d published Rooney’s and Gabbert’s collaborative work myself at Matter Press’s Journal of Compressed Creative Arts (“The One About Ambivalence”), so I came to their work already a huge fan. What I love about this piece is 1) that of all the dogs that could walk into a bar it’s a poodle (imagine the difference if it were a pit bull or Jack Russell, 2) that fauna means animals as a group and a sexually desirable young woman, or so Urban Dictionary says, and 3) you wouldn’t know it from her haircut. I love the surprise of each choice, that feeling that I have no idea where I’m being taken: to a bar, through Maslow’s pyramid, a kind of cartography, and then there, at the end, is social dependence. The three defining terms of social dependency are these: 1) everyday self-care competence, 2) mobility competence, and 3) social competence. One rarely thinks of a dog in such terms. But how fun(ny) it is to do so.