The Soupster encounters a man and beast who won’t talk with their mouth full.
Big and tall, and perpetually chewing a carpenter’s pencil, Hank Waterstone epitomized the 21st Century American fashion of very large men owning small dogs. A generation ago, men like Hank would have been no more likely to be seen with a Chihuahua-terrier mix than they would tote a floral purse.
But here they were, the 12-pound Jupiter straining against his leash and pulling the 240-lb. general contractor along Our Town’s downtown sidewalk.
Jupiter, known to yip-yip-yip quite vigorously on occasion, was silent. He had to be – stuffed in his mouth was a yellow octopus plush toy. Five of its eight tentacles hung from Jupiter’s jaws, while the dog held three of the legs and the head in his teeth.
Coming the other way, the Soupster spotted the yellow toy first and he had a wisecrack ready as he sidled up to big man and little hound.
“Jupiter’s octopus is as bright as those lime green reflective jackets the smart cyclists wear,” the Soupster said. “Is that to increase the little fella’s visibility?”
“It’s to decrease his audibility,” Hank said. He reached down and pulled the octopus out of Jupiter’s mouth. Jupiter immediately launched into his staccato yip-yip-yipping. It shocked the Soupster how loud a sound could come out of such a little dog. Hank replaced the octopus and the yipping stopped.
“An on-off switch,” Hank said tersely and chewed on his carpenter’s pencil.
Gretchen Greely walked up to the two men. “Afternoon, Gents,” she said. “Cute dog.”
Hank mutely chewed on the pencil, so the Soupster interjected, “His name is Jupiter. He has an on-off switch.”
Gretchen made a puzzled face, so the Soupster reached down and grabbed the yellow octopus from Jupiter. Yip-yip-yip, Jupiter protested. The Soupster gave the dog the toy and the yipping stopped.
“Works every time,” said the Soupster.
Jupiter started making little “grrr” noises and a big drop of drool fell to the sidewalk. Hank, chewing vigorously on his pencil, plucked Jupiter up and cradled the dog against one side of his chest.
“How are you, Hank?” Gretchen asked.
Hank said nothing, just chewing his pencil.
Gretchen lurched forward and plucked the pencil from between Hank’s lips.
“Hey,” said Hank, “what are you doing! I was chewing on that!” He followed his words with a litany of unprintables.
Despite Hank’s complaints, Gretchen addressed the Soupter. “I just wanted to see if the on-off switch worked for him, too.” She pointed to the sputtering Hank. “Evidently, it does.”
The Soupster laughed. “Like man, like dog,” he said.