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Pat Piper has made a career learning something new. As a journalist in the news business, “something new” occurs every hour so he’s becoming an expert at understanding stuff he never thought about. Learning became a common word in “Future Talk: Conversations About Tomorrow” (Warner Books), the popular book he ghostwrote with Larry King as […]

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Peter Piper, the Picked Pet Cat

Peter Piper, the Picked Pet Cat

By on May 4, 2013 in Writing

My dad’s name was Peter Piper. I never really thought much about it until I got to first grade and all the kids in Miss Miller’s class started in about picking “a peck of pickled peppers.” My dad never mentioned this so I was waiting when he got home from work, trying to understand why everyone was laughing about his name? He listened, sat down, pulled out a cigarette, took a sip of his gin martini and sighed. “They think it’s funny and that’s OK, “ he told me. “Laugh with them.”

Peter the cat

Peter Piper the cat

The alliteration stopped a few days later.

When I was in college and having a conversation with people, the topic of “parents” would eventually come up and the same thing started all over again. “Your father’s real name is Peter?” I followed the advice given earlier and said, “Yeah, he had the name before I met him.” The conversation then moved to other pressing issues like was Thomas Hobbes really that down on the human condition? I was beginning to understand why he thought that way but, well, let’s get back to Peter Piper.

When my wife and I went to the Arlington County animal shelter to find “an orphan of the storm” a paw reached out of a cage. It turns out his name was “Peter.” This happened the day before Thanksgiving and while filling out the paperwork, I was asked what the full name was going to be of the cat?

“Peter Piper,” I said innocently.

The lady put her pen down and glared.

“Look, it’s the day before Thanksgiving. I’ve been here for ten hours already and you’re the last person I’m doing before we close for the holiday. Let’s try this again: what’s the name of the cat?

Let’s just say I had to pull out my driver’s license. Everything went fine after that.

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