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On a sunny winter’s day, Whale and Hot Dog are playing in their nicely pruned garden. It is a Sunday and he thought it would be the best idea to spend some quality time with his little baby. Hot Dog, on the other hand, is busy thinking about her worst nightmare: a marriage with a great boy dog and having his babies.
Hot Dog: Whale…I have been thinking!
Hot Dog: It’s my worse nightmare and I never ever wish for it to happen but did you think I would ever end up as one of those unfortunate female dogs that grew up and only erm ever had babies?
Hot Dog: No, I was just wondering because a lot of girls in my school are becoming ‘teenage mother dogs’.
Whale: Well, that is their life, baby! It is never going to be your headache ever with me around!
Hot Dog: Really?
Whale: Yes, really! You also have your nan and your two pets. And you are only a little baby dog. And then you have school and…
Hot Dog: Well, what if I fail school?
Whale: Why will you fail school?
Hot Dog: I don’t know…what if I cannot finish school. Then what will I do?
Whale: You will get a job, maybe stacking shelves at a grocery store, like a good little kid. Plus, I am always there to look after you…
Hot Dog: You won’t be mad?
Whale: Why would I be mad?
Hot Dog: I don’t know. Sometimes I feel scared seeing Jack. You know, one dozen lady dogs in school have crushes on him and some of them are ‘teenage mother dogs’. I always find it hilarious but I would never want to end up as Jack with all his child-rearing responsibilities post a relationship, or even a marriage. I have also um like heard that he shamelessly likes that those lady dogs like him and I don’t care at all you know, because he is my best mate for ages now!
Whale: Oh! Well, I think that Jack deserves to be with one of those lady dogs because you Hot Dog are my precious baby dog!
Hot Dog: Thanks Whale! I really appreciate it!
Whale: You are welcome!……………so, what else have you been thinking about?
Hot Dog: Home-cooked chicken!
Whale: Yeah…those are the best kinds of chicken!
It’s the start of a new year. Snow is everywhere in Chelsea, and particularly in front of Whale’s house. Hot Dog has been neglecting her snow shoveling duties because it is the holidays. It’s a Sunday but people are busy at their porches, or going to church or to grab a little bit of holiday sale action yet again at their nearest supermarket. Looking at the chaotic first day of a new year from the window is making Whale feel hopeful and a little bit at peace.
Whale (thinks to himself): I can’ t believe 2017 is here already. I am getting a year older soon it seems. Us Capricorns are so determined to climb the career ladder, it’s not funny. Wonder how Bart rang in her NYE! Mine was filled with drunken behaviour, loud music and a pretty late night. Good thing I could come back home to tuck Hot Dog in her bed at night. The little baby…I can’t wait to tell Hot Dog about all the unrealistic stories my friends have been knitting for the new year. They had so much to drink all they could talk about was their lousy jobs, how hard it is to ask for a raise from their bosses, and caricaturing scary stories when there aren’t any problems or anything at all that should be making us feel queasy or nervous or fret about because there is no way any of us cannot solve them – maybe it was the homemade punch or something. How hilarious! It couldn’t be a better start to the new year…
Hot Dog: Happy New Year!
Whale (startled): Oh! Where you came from? Had a good sleep?
Hot Dog: I did, yes! I am excited that it’s 2017 already!
Whale: Me too! Happy 2017 and a Happy New Year!…I kind of feel like going back to bed again.
Hot Dog: Why? There are like a million happy things you can do today…
Whale: I feel sleepy and everyone is so busy, it’s making me feel even more lazy!
Fat Pig: Happy New Year folks!
Hot Dog: What happened? Did Pig startle you?
Whale: Yes, he did! Sorry, Fat Pig! I wasn’t expecting you infront of my window so early on a New Year’s Day!
Fat Pig: Oh! That’s alright, Whale!
Hot Dog and Whale (together): Happy New Year, to you too!!!
Fat Pig: Have I got a riddle for you…there is word on the street…”it is just there”.
Whale: Wot is?
Fat Pig: I think that is followed by “Things. It’s one of the many different kinds of things. It’s just going to happen. Hmmm. What else? I think it is just there. It IS there.”
Hot Dog: Something amazing?
Fat Pig: I don’t know my amigo but that’s on replay and it’s driving me crazy.
Whale: Me too! Just listening to it gave me a headache.
Fat Pig’s third diary entry
Mr. Brown and Fat Pig are getting ready for Whale’s dinner party. The two are no longer talking to each other because of Fat Pig’s behaviour at the supermarket. Mr. Brown was very humiliated by his own son for food he desperately craves but Mr. Brown does not permit him to have. Fat Pig, in the end, cried loudly for thirty minutes in his chosen supermarket spots before the lady who operated one of his favourite food stores, took pity on his tears and invited him to her home, for her delicious cooked meals, next week.
With that invitation, Pig stopped crying because secretly he knew there was a way out of his misery: Pig was going to develop a friendly relationship with Mrs. Susan (the owner of his favourite food joint at the supermarket) and let her cook daily meals for himself for free (and maybe even Hot Dog, too). Who knows? Because if things go well, Mrs. Susan might be the Singaporean aunty he never had, like that mother-figure or father-figure, who knows when to be strict and when to totally cuddle their favourite kid in the whole universe. And when that happens, Mrs. Susan, at the special request of none other but Fat Pig, will magically create a Cantonese dinner arrangement in Chelsea for all of his school friends, especially Hot Dog.
Fat Pig: I better hurry! I must go to Hot Dog’s house, before Brown!…I also have to tell Dog the story, first…(running out of his home and on the street)…HD! Hi there buddy!
Hot Dog: You alright? Woah! What are you wearing?
Fat Pig: A Cantonese food-print tie, paired with my crisp white shirt and brown trousers, which I have accessorized with a golden belt.
Hot Dog: Fancy! Do you want to come in now or something because I haven’t even started selecting what to wear for tonight? If you do, then you must officially re-enter my household at 8:00pm again!
Fat Pig: That’s alright! But I gotta tell you something first…
Mr. Brown: Fat Pig!!! Get back in the house right now! Sorry Hot Dog, for letting Pig bother you! We will come back at 8pm, like our invitation asked us to!
Fat Pig grumbles and follows his father back to their home…..
Whale’s second diary entry
Whale is busy checking for the umpteenth time if the preparations for the party are alright, when he notices a letter in the letterbox. Whale picks up the letter and finds that it is a couple of stickers Jack has mailed Hot Dog, of various kinds of vegetables he finds interesting even though they taste vile in the the flesh, such as cucumber, sweet potato, kale and turnip. Smiling, the nosey Whale slides the letter from Jack through Hot Dog’s door, for her to enjoy…
Jack Sr.’s first diary entry
In Jack’s household, Jack Sr is checking if the television transmission is alright for the big game they have to all catch over the weekend. The thought of four people in a cramped (and dusty) salmon living room, that oddly always smells of nachos only because of the two youngest in the group of sports enthusiasts, Jack and Hot Dog, makes Jack Sr. ring Whale and ask what has been the latest in their kids’ lives, as a pre-appetizer sort of a talk before the dinner party.
Jack Sr: I was so upset when my son told me “I love my idol more than you!”
Whale: Really? If I even get my hands on the person who thought these stories were funny around Hot Dog.
Jack Sr: I know! My son’s idol doesn’t even know who my son is but Jack gets nothing at all!
Whale: Oh! That’s a much better story! Did I tell you about the time, Hot Dog knitted me a pair of mismatched Snoopy socks…just because…I don’t have any socks that doesn’t come with holes?
Hot Dog’s third diary entry
Hot Dog can hear Jack Sr. screaming through the phone about that idol incident again, which makes her text Jack, asking him to bring it up during dinner tonight. Anxious about how dinner is going to go, the three kids sigh heavily all at the same time, individually.
At 8:00pm, the doorbell at Whale and Hot Dog’s house chimes: it is Jack Sr. and Jack. The two are about to go into Whale’s brown living room, when another doorbell chimes and it’s Mr. Brown and Fat Pig.
In Whale’s brown living room, Hot Dog serves the guests fried prawns and chilli sauce to dig into as the first set of appetizers. Hot Dog is wearing her favourite emerald green jumper dress, with a pair of woolly booties, flaunting faces of Snoopy. Jack tried his best to be both casual and smart, so he is wearing a red/white Christmas jumper with brown trousers and black shoes.
Jack Sr: These prawns are delicious! So tangy but succulent!
Whale: I know! I mastered the recipe from a book by Gordon Ramsay.
Mr. Brown: Oh my…where did you get the time to fit that in?
Whale: Since Hot Dog came into my life, cooking has become my passion.
Jack Sr: That is just perfect for Hot Dog! My son, Jack just loves every dish I make for him!
Jack (interrupts): No, I do not!
Jack Sr: Yes, you do! Don’t interrupt me when I am talking to Whale! If you have to do something, then why not just learn how to talk to Whale from my conversations with him?
Jack: I don’t want to!
Whale: You do not want to?
Jack: Nope! think I can talk just fine all by myself!
Jack Sr: Son, are you trying to be funny?
Hot Dog: I think he’s just bored of three adults talking. Maybe we three kids can watch what’s nice on television now?
Fat Pig: I love the prawns, Mr. Whale! Did you ever try my Singaporean aunty’s hard boiled eggs, hard boiled to perfection?
Hot Dog: Your what?
Mr. Brown: …………….wot?
Jack: I think these prawns are tasty, yeah! How much of it is HD’s contribution? She did most of the work didn’t she?
Whale: Boiled eggs that are perfect…but not by me for HD?
Fat Pig: Oh yeah! They actually can be served in my favourite way – sliced in the middle to perfection by my loving aunty. The yolk is deliciously yellow and there is just something about those hard boiled eggs that can never have any comparison! It really cannot! They are perfect boiled eggs, they really are!
It’s almost late evening. Whale parks his car next to an old house, which bears a rusty yard sign “Mrs. Jennifer Lamb”, and it’s covered with enveloping botanicals. Hot Dog jumps out of the car and runs to the front door of the house, to gently knock announcing their arrival, as Whale gets busy offloading Hot Dog’s luggage from the trunk of his car. The front garden of the house is very messy and unkempt – it looks like a who’s who of the jungle-plants world has set up base there without Mrs. Lamb’s permission, and there’s no pruning through them ever, no matter how much you would want to. Indeed, this is a house that has let gone of itself over the years…
Whale: Knock louder Hot Dog, Mrs. Lamb told me she would be in!
Hot Dog (knocks thunderously): Mrs. Lamb!…Mrs. Lamb! It’s Hot Dog! Is Mother Potato in?
Just then, the front door of the house opens, and a very thin lady, with very long blonde hair greets them. Hot Dog can make out Mother Potato is listening to the evening news inside her house – there’s some report about a cyclone happening somewhere that has wrecked havoc to a lot of homes.
Mrs. Lamb: Good evening, Hot Dog! I am Jennifer! How was the trip here?
Hot Dog: Long…
Mrs. Lamb: Is that Whale with your luggage? Oh, it’s so tiny!
Hot Dog: Tiny? I’ve got my basketball and three board games with me…
Mrs. Lamb: But still that’s very tiny…I can sense you must have stuffed in all of your clothes for the weekend in those two mini suitcases.
Whale: Yes, she has!…So, I think I am going to drive back home now! I don’t want to be driving too late…is Hot Dog’s nan in?
Mrs. Lamb: Yes, she’s watching the six o’clock news! You don’t want to come in and say “Hi” to her?
Mother Potato (screaming from the living room): That’s quite alright, honey! Whale just help Hot Dog out with the luggage and drive back home, soon!
Whale: Yes, mother!
Whale puts his baby’s mini-luggages in the tea room, kisses Hot Dog goodbye (on her forehead) for the weekend, and drives back to Chelsea. Hot Dog is shown to her bedroom – it’s upstairs and she shares it with Jennifer’s daughter, Kim. Kim Lamb is a petite sixteen-year-old girl, who is four months into her pregnancy – given her misfortune, she’s oddly jolly, and happy to have a roommate for a change. After saying a few introductory words to Kim, Hot Dog moves to take a look at the house since it’s her first time here. There are two bedrooms (Mother Potato is staying in Jennifer’s bedroom), a kitchen so tiny there’s barely any room to stand, a crooked living room, one bathroom, and many windows around and they are all shut very tightly.
Hot Dog (mutters to herself, under her breath): Spooky! Wonder what happens around here daily?
Mother Potato is busy cooking up a storm, because she is so happy to see Hot Dog visit her. She is making tortillas, spicy one-pot beef and lemonade, for all.
Mother Potato: Don’t worry, baby! I am making enough for you to have as much as you want!
Hot Dog: Thank you, nan!
Mother Potato: So, what to chat about at first? Ahhh..yes! Mrs. Jennifer Lamb…she and I have been friends since college! She use to work as a jewellery designer for some store in town but now she’s retired like me as well. You can find some of her designs pop up in flea markets sometimes, I don’t even know how but I am going to guess she’s pretty talented that way, yeah?…so many nice, nice things these flea markets in Birmingham sell sometimes!
Hot Dog:…yeah! So, she never went to university?
Mother Potato: Oh no! She’s nothing like our family, Hot Dog! She quit college a few semesters before graduation and went looking for a job to support herself. Her father had deserted her the moment she was born – it was just her and her mother, and she never recovered from her husband running away, with another woman. She was too ill to work anymore as a baker, when Jennifer was seventeen – it was arthritis that did that to her, so Jen then had to go get a job!
Hot Dog: Was she married to a man anything like Kim’s boyfriend…you know, because he ran away with another woman?
Mother Potato: No! Hot Dog, she was married to a great fellow but he had lost total interest in married life, in his middle-ages, so ran away with his secretary.
Hot Dog: What was the secretary like? I bet she was fat!
Mother Potato (laughs): This was the seventies, and Kim’s grandfather was looking to settle down in Minnesota, for a very long time!
Hot Dog: In the United States? Really?
Mother Potato: Yes! So, then he really couldn’t find any way to do so, at first! But after a point in time he met Sylvia – she was American, and very…
Hot Dog: Loose?
Mother Potato: Yes, I think that’s the word! He took an instant liking to her and after knowing each other for four years, the two ran away, after he fell in love…
Hot Dog: Like with her loose ways?
Mother Potato: Yes! Tragic, yeah?
Hot Dog: Yeah!…Did Jennifer’s mother ever meet Sylvia?
Mother Potato: No! She heard of her only when she couldn’t find James Lamb (her husband). A year passed, and then she heard of him through a letter from his mother, who didn’t endorse James’ relationship with Sylvia but didn’t care much for his wife: Julia, either.
Hot Dog: So, Julia was totally lost in that era of protests, and world-peace-loving crowd for one whole year before she heard from her husband’s mother through a letter?
Mother Potato: James had taken his mother to Minnesota, with him. She described in her letter that Sylvia actually pronounced to her she can’t do housework, or cook for her son, and only wants to drink sherry and enjoy her life with James!
Hot Dog (laughs): Sylvia is such a brilliant misfit! It’s better than if she was fat, I think!
Mother Potato: Yes, I suppose!…oh look! The beef is done!…it’s time to dig in!
Whale and Hot Dog are visiting Grandmother Potato today. It’s one of Hot Dog’s favourite things on Earth – visiting Mother Potato, because she’s Whale’s mother and a lady who always gives her so many very delicious candies, and knitted goods, she has crafted herself during her spare time. Most of the time Mother Potato (that’s what Hot Dog was taught she should call her grandma, apart from “nan” of course) is busy cooking, gardening, reading several newspapers, writing her diary entries, and spending time with her friends, a majority of which weren’t fortunate enough to escape living in homes after retirement because their kids (after they grew up and everything) and grandchildren, never really cared much about them.
Whale: Just look at the traffic this weekend! I think it will take us a whole day to drive to Birmingham!
Hot Dog(laughs): Where is nan staying in Birmingham?
Whale: With her friend Jennifer – her granddaughter just became a teenage mom, so Jennifer’s very distraught about it!
Hot Dog: What for?
Whale: She’s only a teenager, she shouldn’t be having kids! But her horrible boyfriend simply knocked her up and left her, so she’s quit her day job and holed up with Jen!
Hot Dog: Where did she use to work?
Whale: Oh that girl had a very bright future ahead of her but she totally ruined it…she use to work at this Mexican restaurant, like serve food and everything there!
Hot Dog: Wow! What a story!
Whale: Yeahhh…but you’ll be there with nan this weekend so she won’t totally lose her cool in all that drama!…poor Jen, she’s really freaked out about all of it!
It’s been flipping three hours and Whale and Hot Dog are still on the road, merely inching close to Birmingham. Whale stopped by at a gas station for a couple of minutes, in the middle, to get some soda for Hot Dog and chocolate for himself; he really can’t understand why the road is so badly jammed…
Whale:…so, Hot Dog! How was the circus? I feel last week was too much of a whirlwind and we couldn’t really properly catch up! Did you have a grand ball, with Fat Pig and Jack?
Hot Dog: I did, yeah! It was really, really fun! But we’ll catch up on that subject later…why don’t you tell me how work’s been?
Whale: Mmmm, work has been boring, first. Then it got interesting because I got to have tea with my boss, Bart, and I remember talking to her about moms and everything.
Hot Dog: Oh! Does she know I am visiting nan this weekend?
Whale: Yup, I did tell her! She told me that she hasn’t been able to have that kind of a-whole-week-of-fun for plenty of work, for ages, which is still cool because she frequently visits her grandmother and mother, for like a couple of hours.
Hot Dog: Why do they live a short drive away from her?
Whale: No! They live in Belfast!
Hot Dog:…OMG! That’s in Ireland!…this all sounds so much like the Spice Girls’ song “Mama”!
Whale: What’s the Spice Girls, honey?
Hot Dog: It’s this British band, I like!
Whale:… you do, honey? That is so amazing! I just know I will simply love everything you love…