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June 2013

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Someone's in the Kitchen...

Title: Someone’s in the Kitchen…
Prompt: cuddling with pets (R5C5)
Medium: fic – 1,489 words (and 1,268 in author’s notes)
Rating: G
Warnings: None. This is pure fluff, start to finish.
Pairing: Bobby/OC
Summary: Fayette calls on Lureen, with a guest.

Author's Note: In July of 2010, I signed up for Schmoop Bingo, optimistically aiming for a blackout by the end of the year. By December 27, I had only completed one of the stories for the 25 prompts required to fill my Bingo card, so I just posted it (Tarragon, of Virtue, Is Full).

Then I wrote another little bit of schmoop for the 2012 Valentine’s Day “Love Letters” challenge, and just shoved it under the “Winter Holiday/Festival” prompt (Exchange). (I expect they meant Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa/Other Solstice Event, but, hey, February is still winter, isn’t it?

When the April challenge came along, I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to write. The theme was “In the Kitchen”, and I knew the scene, the characters, the “plot”… I knew the damn SONG, AND it was going to go on the Bingo card under the cuddling with pets prompt!

And not one word of it would move out of my brain onto the paper. Not. One. Word.

Fast-forward to November. I signed up for Wrisomifu (Write Something you Miserable Fuck),which is a month-long commitment to write at least ten minutes each day, and post about it on the Wrisomifu LJ community. After eight days of grimly, grudgingly, teeth grittingly churning out a miserable few miserably unsatisfactory miserable words in a process not unlike extracting blood from turnips, a wondrous thing occurred! I wrote!
At 10:30 AM on Friday, November 9th, as I was waiting interminably at the clinic, I had this strange urge to get my Wrisomifu stint done (or at least started). As a matter of principle, I had been postponing each day’s writing to the very last possible moment. Did I really want to do this mad thing? I’d just finished my yesterday’s allotment a few hours ago. (Late start, don’t ask.) So I wrote 10:30 AM at the bottom of the on-going MO!Ennis tale I was working on and poised myself to write…

And then I put aside my MO!Ennis tale, and inscribed 10:30 AM in the wide blank space under the Someone’s in the Kitchen… title… and I began to write. I wrote for 35 minutes, and the beginning of the story just flowed onto the paper—exactly as I had always pictured it. That seemed to be a reasonable place to pause, but in 15 minutes, there was more knocking on my brain, and so I wrote 11:20, and kept going. All my characters were acting in character, the fic was heading where it needed to be heading… I couldn’t believe it. 25 more minutes and I was at the bottom of the second page, and I felt I was done for the day. I was euphoric!
But after I had gotten my vitals taken, and waited, and seen my NP, and was waiting to pick up my prescriptions, I wrote 2:10 PM at the top of a clean page and kept going! And in 40 more minutes, the story was finished. Euphoria squared, cubed, to the euphoric power!

Okay, it still needed a little tweaking. Gotta look up some genealogy—my Most Important Character (an OC) must have the right ancestors! There were a few sections that needed some wordsmithing. I knew I should probably go back and fit in a little more description of the surroundings. But I figured that in a couple of days, this puppy was going up on bmm-drabbles.livejournal.com. Welllll, the “couple of days” seems to have stretched into something like six months, but here it is. Okay, maybe it’s getting posted over a year late, but it’s getting posted!

Someone's in the Kitchen

April 1970

“Well, honey, we all know Bobby really wants a dog. And Jack’d like one too, I’m sure…”

“Mamma, I’m sure that this ain’t what either of em has in mind…”

They were in the Twist kitchen, the three of them: Lureen and her mother at the kitchen table, with coffee, and the surprise visitor enjoying the cool tile floor. It wasn’t unusual for Fayette to drop in unannounced, or to bring along a friend (although she was more likely to call first if she wasn’t coming alone) but her prior guests had all been human. Lureen’s first thought was that her mother had acquired a dog of her own and brought it along to show off. Finding out that Fayette meant this dog to be not a visitor but a permanent resident sent Lureen into instant defensive mode.

“And I don’t want a dog—too much trouble…”

“Yes, but, sweetie, that’s the nice thing! She’s full grown. All her shots—no runnin back and forth to the vet every couple weeks…”


“Housebroken, of course. Fully trained, in fact. I just know Bobby’ll love her. You’ll all love her!”

The she in question was indeed—hopefully!—full grown. She was about 25” tall at the shoulder—in other words, just short of eye-level with the kitchen table, and she looked to weigh about 45 pounds—her dazzling white coat accounting for at least five of them.

If you can’t get around one parent, appeal to the other. Falling back on this time-tested gambit, Lureen asked, “And what does Daddy say about this?” Which was a pretty safe question, since L.D. Newsome would not under any circumstances have selected this particular dog as an ideal canine companion for his grandson, or for anybody else.

“Well, you know, honey, I just told him about Lila’s hip problems, and that she had a big dog she couldn’t take care of any more. He thought it was a fine idea!”

Well, he sure wouldn’t think it was such a fine idea once he had seen the dog. Not that Lureen considered her father’s disapproval any reason not to do whatever she wanted to anyway. Rather the reverse, in fact. But…
“He ever see this, this… That is the biggest damn poodle I’ve ever seen.”

“She’s a Standard Poodle. Lila says they come in three sizes…”

“Small, medium, and jumbo economy size?”

“…toy, miniature, and standard. Her name is, is…” Fayette fumbled in her purse for the AKC registration papers. Then for her reading glasses. “…Diamanté Tiara of Stonebridge.”

“Dear Lord.” Lureen was almost speechless. The thought of presenting her father, her husband, or her son with a family dog sporting an enormous ruff around her neck and shoulders, plus pompons decorating her legs, tail, and hips—not to mention rejoicing in a name like Diamanté Tiara of Stonebridge—was mind-boggling.

“They just call her Diamanté for short,” Fayette added helpfully, as though that was an improvement.

The jumbo economy size poodle looked up and wagged her tail at the mention of her name. She remained lying calmly on the floor as the two women discussed her future, occasionally glancing at one or the other.

Lureen shook her head in disbelief. “Diamanté. I can just see Jack takin her and Bobby down to the playground, and him callin, “Di-a-mannnn-té! Here, Diamanté!”

Being called, of course she came. She stood next to the table, facing Lureen, tail waving. After a moment, she sat, then gently placed one paw on Lureen’s knee. Now that she was up close and personal, Lureen could see that Diamanté had a rhinestone barrette holding her masses of white frizz up on her head and out of her eyes. She might also have been wearing a rhinestone collar, but if so, it was buried in the depths of her mane.

“Oh my,” Lureen sighed. “She certainly is a beautiful dog,” she conceded, then returned to the pragmatic. “And just who is supposed to find the time to brush all this hair? You can’t tell me that keepin up this hairdo doesn’t take a hell of a lot a work.”

“Oh, you just drop her off at the poodle parlor every month or so and pick her up in the afternoon, all bathed and combed and clipped! That’s no trouble at all!” Fayette assured her airily. “And if that clip is too fancy for you, just get her a simpler one. Lila liked that one; it’s some kind of show clip, but you can just have her fixed up as plain or fancy as you want.”

Lureen contemplated pointing out the inherent contradiction between her mother’s earlier reassurance about not needing several trips to the veterinarian for puppy shots with her current disclosure of life-long monthly beauty salon appointments, but decided that it wasn’t going to help her case. “We don’t need a fancy show dog…” she began.

But Fayette interrupted: “Oh, no, she’s not a show dog, she’s just wearin a show clip.” And when Lureen looked impatient at this non-explanation, she went on, “Lila just got her as a pet; she’s got show parents, but there was something about her—sort of buck teeth, or something like that, I think—that wasn’t quite good enough for showin. So she’s a pet. Lila’s really sad to have to give her up.”

Lureen got up to pour more coffee, trying to muster up further objections. The sound of Jack’s truck pulling into the driveway brought mixed emotions. On the one hand, she was sure—well, pretty sure—that Jack would add his arguments to hers against taking this frou-frou animal into the family. And maybe Diamanté disliked children. Not that Lureen wanted her to hurt Bobby, or even scare him, except maybe just a little bit—enough to keep him from wanting her. Another look at Diamanté’s begemmed upsweep made her hope for an outright rejection. But in any case, a well-timed growl would be a perfect excuse that even Fayette couldn’t override or argue away.

Diamanté heard the arrival also. She went to the door and barked—once—then looked at them to be sure they understood that someone had arrived.

Her bark had not gone unheard. Three-and-a-half-year-old Bobby barreled through the door, looking around for the source of the bark he knew he’d heard. Spotting her, he yelled, “Dog-dee, dog-dee, dog-dee!” (he had yet to relinquish some of his infantile mispronunciations) and charged straight at the poodle, arms outstretched. Then he tripped and they both went sprawling, poor Diamanté giving out an agonized yelp as Bobby stepped on her ear.

“Oh, poor dog-dee! I’m sorry!” Bobby cried, and patted the ear soothingly. Lureen had jumped up to intervene, but Diamanté clearly held no grudges, and was responding happily to his friendly overtures, licking his face, while Bobby was introducing himself. “I’m Bobby,” he told her. “You’re such a nice dog-dee. You’re so soft! Want to hear my favorite song?” He began to sing to her at the top of his voice.

I’ve been workin on the railroad
All the live-long day.
I’ve been working on the railroad
Just to pass the time away.

Can’t you hear the whistle blowin
Rise up so early in the morn?
Can’t you hear the captain shouting
‘Dinah, blow your horn’?

Jack came in and raised his voice over the pandemonium. “Hi, honey. Got your stuff,” holding up a sack from the pharmacy. “Hey, Fayette, good to see you.”

Dinah, won’t you blow,
Dinah, won’t you blow,
Dinah, won’t you blow your ho-o-orn?
Dinah, won’t you blow,
Dinah, won’t you blow,
Dinah, won’t you blow your horn?

“So what’s with the dog?” he asked cautiously.

“I just knew you’d love her!” his mother-in-law said. “And look, Bobby’s just crazy about her!”

Bobby did seem to be crazy about her, but Bobby wasn’t one of the decision-makers in the family. “Umm… Lureen…?” Jack asked cautiously.

“…and Lureen says she’s beautiful!” Fayette added triumphantly.

Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah.
Someone’s in the kitchen I know-oh-oh-oh.
Someone’s in the kitchen with Diii-naahhhh,
Strummin on the old ban-jo!

Jack looked from his enthusiastic mother-in-law to his ecstatic son; from his son to the affectionate dog; then from the dog to his unreadable wife. “I guess… we got a dog then?” he said bemusedly.

Feeling like she was being railroaded, Lureen wanted to answer decisively, “No, we do not have a dog,” but hesitated just a bit too long. Then Bobby interrupted his serenade to ask, “What’s his name?”

Her name is Diamanté,” Lureen corrected, hoping—well, half-hoping—for this to be a deal-breaker.
“Her name is Dinah!” Bobby insisted, and, pretending to strum a banjo, in the kitchen, with Dinah, concluded his song:

An singin:
Fee, fi, fiddly-i-o.
Fee fi, fiddly-i-o-i-o-o.
Fee, fi, fiddly-i-oooooo.
Strummin on the old ban-jo!

Dinah wagged her tail and panted happily. She just knew she was going to love it here.

More Author’s Notes:

The Song – This traditional folk song is surely known to almost every reader (or at least to almost every American reader). For the sake of those who might not be familiar with it (or who would like a refresher), I put in some heavy-duty research at YouTube. The problem was not finding the song, it was finding a version that hadn’t been so heavily “personalized” by the artist that it lost all connection to its simple heritage. I found two that I thought would do. The first is a rendition by Lew Dite which is pretty straightforward: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOPULd1lETQ The second is presented perfectly in all its childlike simplicity, except that it’s missing one crucial verse; I give you Barney the Purple Dinosaur: http://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=2MM3m4nTqJ0.

The Dog – The internet is a wonderful thing. I wanted a genuine pedigree for Dinah, and I knew just where to look: PoodlePedigree.com. I started with Alekai Kennels, because I knew Dinah was going to be white. A little research turned up the short-lived, but influential Stonebridge kennel name as ideal for my purpose.

On March 20, 1967, their bitch Ch. Alekai Maunalua whelped a litter sired by Ch. Alekai Ahi. The poodle pedigree database lists two puppies from this litter: Ch Wynjolynn Lua of Stonebridge and Candace of Stonebridge. (There’s also another sister—Ch. Tamara of Stonebridge—from an earlier litter.) Standard Poodles typically have larger litters—five is about normal and ten not unusual—there were probably other puppies who just didn’t make it into the database. So I felt no compunction whatsoever in adding an extra sibling. I chose this particular litter because it was at the right time to provide a dog that was an adult but not too old, and because I wanted certain ancestors for Dinah. Her great-grandfather is Ch. Puttencove Promise, who won Best in Show at Westminster in 1958. (He’s also her great-great-great grandfather and her great-great-grandfather twice.) Puttencove Promise traces his lineage back to Ch. Nunsoe Duc de la Terrace of Blakeen, another Westminster Best in Show winner (1935); the first poodle Westminster BIS winner, and, incidentally, the first BIS winner at Westminster handled by a woman, Duc’s importer and owner, Hayes Blake Hoyt. Duc’s sire was Int’l Ch. Prinz Alexander von Rodelheim, an extremely influential dog—so much so that he got his own chapter in Lydia Hopkins’ The Complete Poodle. However, we’re looking back 10 generations at this point, with a potential 2,000 ancestors. It would actually be pretty hard to find a white Standard Poodle who didn’t have Prinz Alexander back there somewhere, and probably more than once.

You are now perhaps wondering: how does a dog like this wind up being given away in Childress, Texas? The fact is, a litter of five is very unlikely to contain five show prospects. There might be two, or—if it was a really good nick—three puppies that exhibit enough potential to keep or to sell to show homes. Maybe they’ll become champions, or maybe they won’t grow up to the promise they showed when puppies. (A Standard Poodle bitch earns the title of Top Producer if she produces three champions in her lifetime.) At that time, with the relatively unknown Stonebridge name—although the Alekai parentage would have been respected—the puppies with show potential would probably go for $200-300 each. And the not-quite-good-enoughs would be sold as pets for about $100-200. So while Dinah was probably not cheap (compared to the $50 or so for a purebred dog bought through the classified ads in the local newspaper), she wouldn’t have been prohibitively expensive either.

I should probably also address the lingering misperception that show dogs are high-strung and/or bad-tempered due to “overbreeding” or in-breeding. There might have been some truth to this back in the 1920s-1930s—I don’t know. But by Dinah’s time the conformation ring had become so ferociously competitive that it was simply impossible to win with a dog that was shy, snappy, recalcitrant, or anything less than 100% willingly cooperative.

Here is the Continental Clip that Dinah sports:

Here is a utility clip that the Twists would undoubtedly find more practical:

And here is Dinah’s Pedigree:
Ch. Alekai AhiCh. Alekai KilaIvardon Kenilworth of Ensarr
Ch. Puttencove Kaui
Ch. Davdon CaptivationCh. Hillandale C’est Vrais
Ch. Davdon Miss Demeanor
Ch. Alekai MaunaluaAlekai RomaCh. Alekai Nohea
Ch. Ivardon Winter
Ch. Tambarine De La FontaineCh. Puttencove Promise
Can.Ch. Cillette De. La Fontaine

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Awww, this story is absolutely adorable!


Thank you!

So glad you enjoyed it. And, yes, adorable is exactly what I was aiming for!