Photo By Suzie Hazelwood from Pexels

‘Why wouldn’t Daddy buy me a bow-wow?’

Some might remember hearing the old music hall song by that name. Despite being corny and vomit-inducing through its use of comic, candy-sweet lyrics, it’s somehow survived for over a hundred years.

I hated it then, and I still do. The song reminds me too much of a painful chapter in my childhood that I’d sooner forget. Specifically, it’s the chorus that does it.

Anyone who knows the chorus I’m referring to will be laughing at me by now. I mean, even I can see how stupid the lyrics are. So why do those words still upset me whenever I hear them?

I’ll let you make up your mind.

Daddy wouldn’t buy me a bow-wow! Bow wow!
Daddy wouldn’t buy me a bow-wow! Bow wow!
I’ve got a little cat
And I’m very fond of that
But I’d rather have a bow-wow
Wow, wow, wow, wow

I can hear you all groaning and thinking aloud, what the fuck is this guy on about? Well, I’ll do my best to explain. Forget grown-up me and imagine that I’m once again a little boy saying those words? Forget that the guy who wrote them had meant them to be funny. For me, they were deadly serious.

It was my birthday, and I’d spent months leading up to my special day pleading with my mum and dad for a puppy. I mean, it wasn’t much to ask for — was it?

Finally, the day arrived. My heart was thumping inside my chest as I went to the kitchen for breakfast.

“You’ll have to wait for your present. Your dad’s getting it on his way home from work.” Already I was seeing myself, leash in hand, taking my puppy for its first walk. Can you remember what it was like on your sixth birthday? The minutes barely tick by when you’re waiting for something special.

All I could think of were essential questions such as whether his coat would be smooth or shaggy, would he be as big as me? Would mum and dad let me take him to school so I could show him off to the other kids? Would he be a boy or girl? Could I let him sleep on my bed? There was so much for a little six-year-old boy to deal with.

Arriving home from school, I sat on the front step and waited patiently for dad’s car to turn into our street. My sister’s kitten began rubbing itself against me, seeking attention. I patted the animal, which was a big mistake where my elder sister was concerned. “It’s mine!” She reminded me, punching my arm hard enough to hurt to confirm the fact.

I think I poked my tongue out at her. Soon I’d have my puppy, and she’d want a turn at walking him. I imagined myself saying no to her because she was mean to me. Eventually, I’d relent, I knew because I didn’t want her making a fuss and telling mum and dad what a brat she had for a younger brother.

And then I saw my dad’s car. Pulling up, he got out of it. Opening the passenger door, he removed a large cardboard box. I was excited, and it was all I could do to keep breathing and not pee my pants.

“Happy birthday, son,” he said, handing me the box. I listened for a yelp, the excited whimper, or any dog sound. But my puppy was quiet, likely because he couldn’t see out of the high-sided carton. Likewise, neither could I see into it.

Carrying the box through to the backyard, I could feel nervousness and excited anticipation all rolled into one. Tilting the container over onto its side, I held my breath and waited for my first glimpse of my puppy, my new best friend. It was time to play!

The kitten that emerged was as black as a lump of coal. Sitting on the grass, fighting back the tears, mum and dad watched me, and they had no idea how disappointed I was.

“You’re mum, and I decided that you’re still a bit young for the responsibility of a puppy,” dad announced. I couldn’t look at them. I wanted to remind them that they’d promised me one, but I didn’t.

My sixth birthday taught me never to believe grown-ups when they promised you something.

Now I’ve got a little cat, and I’m very fond of that, but I’d rather have a bow-wow-wow.

Photo By Dids From Pexels

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Writing is in my blood. Fiction or fact, my imagination and life experiences compel me to write stories & entertain readers. Let me share my passion with you.

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Val Francis

Val Francis

Writing is in my blood. Fiction or fact, my imagination and life experiences compel me to write stories & entertain readers. Let me share my passion with you.

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