by jkatejohnston

1 January 2013

Dear Max,

Teresa woke up and said, “It’s a new year. This could be the year we all die.” Then she went for a walk. On an overpass she saw a dead Chihuahua in the middle of the road. “Tough year for him,” she said when she came home. “Maybe he ran away because of all the fireworks. It’s not his fault he’s a Chihuahua.”

Teresa has a prejudice against Chihuahuas because she used to be plagued by two of them when she would go running on the bluff tops in Goleta. They would jump on her, scrabbling and scratching while she yelled at the owner to get them on a leash. He was old and apparently deaf. One day one of the dogs bit her. The next time she saw the old man and his dogs she told him that one of the dogs bit her and he really needed to put them on a leash. “Oh, no! They would never do that.” So she just cursed him and ran away.

A few weeks later in the Valley Voice, she saw a picture of the old man holding his two Chihuahuas. She read the story in which he described how he was walking on the bluff tops with his dogs when a wolf had carried off his little Chica. He just heard one Yip! And she was gone.

Of course it must have been a coyote, but I love the paper for just printing what he said. And I love the universe for coming up with such a modest and funny revenge—the only really satisfying kind. We’ve been thinking fondly of Chica ever since.


Enzo lost his sixth tooth yesterday. He put it in an Altoids tin under his pillow. This morning he said, “The tooth fairy forgot to come!” And showed me the tin.

“Open it.”

Inside was a tattered five dollar bill.

“Oooh. Five dollars. But it’s kind of crinkly.” One thing he loved about the thirty-five ones in his stocking was how crisp and new and clean they were. Each one was a valuable object. This limp old five was just legal tender.

“Good old Abraham Lincoln,” I said.

“When are they going to put Barack Obama on some money?”

“They usually only do that with old time presidents.”

“So like in a hundred years?”


“Barack Obama will be dead by then.”


“I might even be dead by then.”

Since I have the day off we started talking about what we might do.

“I have an idea. Ping! Catfish sushi! Live catfish.”


“Oh-oh-oh! Ping! What about that food place—we could go there and get an alligator foot! For my collection.”

“We’ll see. We don’t have a lot of room in our freezer. And since no one in the family eats crocodile feet…”

“It’s for my collection.”


Last night I read him his National Geographic Kids magazine. There was an article on birthstones. His is June, Pearl, a symbol of innocence. He clapped his hand over his eyes and scrunched down on the couch. “Innocence!” I read on: “According to legend, wealthy Roman women wore pearls to bed so that when they woke in the morning, they instantly remembered how rich they were.” Which mostly made up for the innocence.