I have purple hair. My husband wears a three-piece suit. We have a dragon for a pet.
Our dragon – let’s call her Dammit – loves Oreos and has discovered coffee is quite tasty if it costs $5. Dammit rests on the precipice between an unruly toddler and an insufferable teenager. Give her the Oreos, she bats her long lashes and coos. Deny her the Oreos, she uses her spiked tail as a weapon of mass destruction. She’s impossible to ignore, impossible to hate. Harder still to love. Her motivations are always simple: she wants what she wants, whatever that is, whenever she wants it. She’s never been seen or introduced, but everyone has met her.
The purple hair was her idea. It started with a tattoo.
“I’d like to get a tattoo,” I told my conservative husband of twenty plus years.
He pursed his lips, narrowed his eyes. The wheels in his mind searched for the right words, the proper combination of syllables to say no without saying no. Then, he snorted. My perfectly put together man snorted. Dammit awoke. After all, snorting is the language of dragons.
“Well,” he started his measured response, “I don’t have to worry about this. You won’t even get a flu shot. You’ll never volunteer for the pain of tattoo needles.” My husband is supposed to be the dragon-slayer but sometimes he forgets Dammit exists.
I heard her cage rattle. I felt the heat of her expelled fire. Turning her direction, she stared at me with her tiny arms across her large chest. “He just called you a chicken,” she said to me. “You cannot let him get away with that.”
Laughing, I said to Dammit, “I am chicken. I think he wins this one.” I too chose the exact wrong combination of words.
Dammit’s bushy eyebrows rose into her hair and her blue eyes narrowed. “Oh no. You will be getting that tattoo.” Her tail appeared around her body and, like a bully sporting for a fight, poked me in the shoulder.
As parents sometimes have to do, I walked away.
Dammit may be immature, but she’s no dummy. Wherever we went, Dammit pointed out cool tattoos or unique designs and previously unnoticed tattoo shops. She fed me fun phrases. She found people I respected who had body art. When I ignored her, she turned up the temperature. “Get something religious. Get Brian to go with you. It can be mother/son bonding experience.”
Children have lots of unique gifts. But their most well-developed genius is understanding when our defenses are down. Dragons have the same instinct.
It was a Friday night after a long week. My dragon-slaying husband was out-of-town. Tired + Lonely + Alcohol. Do I need to finish this? I now have two – yes, two – tattoos for a religion I no longer embrace. Dammit loves them!
My husband’s response started as shock. Once recovered, he again rattled Dammit’s cage. “One tattoo can be sexy. Two is a bit weird. Three would be trashy.”
Dammit wants more! Opinions abound in Dammit’s mind. Rational arguments hold no sway. She’s a dragon. Her body is much larger than her reptilian brain. She’s already chosen the next tattoo. She’s just waiting on the right time to strike.
But purple hair? Dammit did not like us turning fifty. She wants to stay thirteen. She started off easy – streaks of a funky red in the blond. Subtle. Pretty. We did not get enough attention for the red. No one was shocked. No one gave us a second look. Hot pink was next.
We’re at a concert on my pink-hair premier. My husband kept looking at the pink swatch. Angry? Disappointed? Frustrated? Perplexed? Embarrassed? I think he experienced them all in equal measure. Remembering Dammit was close by, he wisely kept his mouth closed.
A young woman stopped me at the beer stand. “I love your hair,” she said.
After thanking her, Dammit and I turned to my husband with a “so there” grin. He shook his head. “Honey, look,” he pointed at my new friend. “Is that who you want complimenting you?”
Butt cheeks hanging out of torn jean shorts. Stilettos that had seen better days. A bra in lieu of a shirt. A beer in one hand. A bottle of rum in the other. A spider tattoo on her neck. Some weird design decorating her hamstrings. Piercings everywhere and anywhere. Hot pink hair. Even Dammit got the point.
Pink changed to purple. Now we get honest compliments. My husband endures it. He may even like it. Dammit is satisfied – for now.
She lives in a gilded cage in the center of my chest. When she’s angry, she grips my sternum and pulls until I breathe fire. When she’s sad, she twists my throat until it burns. When’s she proud, she calls and calls and calls for Oreos. She won’t be denied her coffee. She is my best friend and my worst enemy. She is my protector and my adversary.
She’s impossible to ignore, impossible to hate. Harder still to love. She is me.
Do you have a special pet that lives inside you? Do you listen to her? If not, you need to -- the less we listen, the louder and more obnoxious the pets get! What does your pet look like? What is she trying to tell you?
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