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  • In her wonderful story, "The Boomerang Effect," Tiffany Parris claims to be a prize sucker, at least where animals are concerned. Far be it from me to argue with a lovely woman and accomplished writer, so I'll just present my own case and let the facts speak for themselves...

    Not that long ago I brought the family cat in for a routine check-up. Nancy, our veterinarian, poked and prodded the animal in all the right places and asked, "And how how would you say Licorice is doing in general?"

    "Fine, but I think he really misses Pappy." (Translation: I really missed Pappy, our dog who had died a year earlier; Licorice was not choked up with grief.)

    Nancy leaned in, you might say conspiratorially. "Mr. Kempner, can I show you something?"

    She took me to a back room, where an adorable black kitten sat forlornly in a crate.

    "This is Bogart," she said. "He was hit by a car. I'm afraid he's going to have to lose his right front paw."

    My mind churned furiously. "Oh my God, who's going to adopt a three-legged cat? He's a goner. Do something. DO SOMETHING!"

    "I'll take him."

    A month later, I took Bogart back to the vet for a shot. Miraculously, the nerves in his paw had rallied and there was no need for the amputation.

    "Nancy," I said. "I can't tell you what an amazing addition to the household Bogart has been. Licorice loves him. My family loves him. Thank you so much for introducing me to him."

    "Mr. Kempner, can I show you something?"

    "Uh...sure."

    She signaled to a technician, who returned leading a limping black dog.

    "This is Jack," Nancy said.

    "Why's he limping?"

    "Hit by a car and abandoned. I'd say he's around two years old."

    There went my mind, off to the races again. "Adult dog. Unsightly gash in leg. Pound bait. No hope. DO SOMETHING!"

    "I'll take him."

    Flash forward a few weeks. Jack is at the vet getting the sutures removed from his leg. I'm singing his praises to Nancy, when she suddenly whispers, "Mr. Kempner, can I show you something?"

    I'm prepared for this. I draw myself up to my full height and begin to orate. "Nancy, twice you've prevailed upon my good nature and twice I've succumbed. But I have to warn you: if you're about to lead me to a lame horse or a beached whale, not only will I refuse, I will remove your still-beating heart and feed it to you."

    She blinks once, twice. "I wanted to show you that your last check bounced."

    "Oh," say I, which is the only proper thing for a sucker to say when the moral high ground has imploded beneath his feet.
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