And that's exactly what I got. A ginger-colored guinea pig named Norma Jean. Norma was a bit of a disappointment, but not because she did anything wrong. She was just being a guinea pig: drinking from a water bottle, eating lettuce, and shitting/pissing 12 times a day on hay and old copies of The New York Post. She was only disappointing because she wasn't a pony or a dog. And obviously that was not her fault.
My parents felt it was inhumane to keep a dog in a New York City apartment, and because they were not bazillionaire Central Park West Aryans, they were not about to stable a pony in said park. So what I got (after my turtle and gerbils died) was a guinea pig.
But that didn't stop me from trying to make Norma Jean something she wasn't. She was too small to ride, but fuck if I wasn't going to take her out for a walk like a proper dog.
I affixed a modified cat collar to Norma's neck, tied a bungee cord to the collar, and carried her downstairs through the lobby, past a confused custodian, to the little patch of grass in front of my apartment building. I fully expected her to begin walking alongside me as I traipsed up to the Kosher deli to buy a hot dog. (DAMN those hot dogs were good! I wish I had one right now).
Needless to say, (or perhaps only needless to say for those well versed in guinea pig behavior), Norma did not walk. Not at all. She sat perfectly still sniffing and nibbling the grass, and no amount of poking and/or gentle prodding with sticks and the left toe of my dirty white Keds sneaker could prompt her to take a single scuffle forward.
She twitched her pink nose and bore her beady little black eyes straight into mine as if to say: "Fuck you, bitch. You think I'm a dog? I will show you I am a rodent! I will chew 1,000 blades of grass before I move one paw (?) a single inch!"
And that was the first and last time I tried to take Norma the Guinea Dog for a walk.
Years later, Norma perished of natural causes at what I can only assume was a reasonably old age for a guinea pig. As I dutifully buried her in an unauthorized grave in the back of my apartment building, I whispered in eulogy: "You should have walked, Norma Jean. You should have fucking walked."