It’s my birthday, so I’ll write fiction if I want to.
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Todd and Felicity stood at the edge of the competitors yard. This wasn’t their first show. Todd stretched his neck to the right and yawned, releasing the tension of anticipation. He rolled his neck back to the left with a crack. Symmetry mattered.
“The field’s crowded today, friends,” boomed the announcer. “We’re broadcasting live today from the 18th annual Westminster Carving Competition, where the competitors are just getting started!”
“With me today is past champion Richard Myers-Meyers and artist Adrian Meyers,” she continued. “Adrian, how does the field look to you today? Anyone we should keep an eye on?”
“Well Anita, as we can see, Felicity Merritt is back again this year with Todd. He’s obviously had a comfortable off season, and it looks like she’s back with a reciprocating trimmer again,” Adrian noted.
Richard sniffed and look away from the announcer’s booth. He harbored no faith in the newer trimmer models.
“Last season, you’ll remember we saw Felicity choke in the final round as the carpal tunnel that plagued her in the offseason came back with a vengeance that made her drop the trimmer,” added Anita. “Let’s get a word from down on the field, where our own Carole Berkeley is standing with Felicity Merritt. Carole?”
“Yes, I’m here with Felicity Merritt, who’s about to head to her station. Felicity, looks like you’ve been icing your wrists. Are you feeling ready for today?”
“Yup,” responded Felicity, never letting her eyes off Todd. “We’re ready. Wrists are feeling good. I’m feeling good. Todd’s feeling good. I don’t know what’s in him, but he’s ready. We’re good.”
“Well you heard it, Anita!” Carole crowed. “Merritt’s ready to take on the competition!” With that, the judges’ whistle blew and Felicity, Todd, and the other competitors strode out to their stations around the infield.
“Artists, you’ll have 10 minutes for the first category,” boomed the voice over the PA system. “15 minutes for category 2, 15 minutes for category 3. There will be a 2 minute break between categories for you to sweep off trimmings.”
Felicity and the others knew the timing and routine. After the third category, they would each have 5 minutes to retrim their partner into standard shape.
“Category 1!” barked the PA system. The competitors waited, each poised with a trimmer over their partners. Earlier in the day, they’d nervously traded gossip of anticipated categories: automobiles, sea creatures, things you’d find in a backyard.
“VOLKSWAGENS!” came the announcement.
The hum of trimmers filled the air as fluffy bits flew like a pillow fight above the crowd. Chainsaw carving had its fans, but the Westminster set knew nothing of it. They gathered today for the day of the annual poodle carving competition. Quickly, Vanagons and early Beetles began to take form.
“Of course, the real excitement isn’t just in the creativity,” said Adrian, continuing the commentary from the announcer’s booth. “It’s also in restraint.”
“How so?” asked Anita. “Surely we all remember the overclipped state of Fluffy and David St. Clair last year!” Fluffy was back this year, but the others dogs all knew where David had combed over her bald spot.
“So true,” shuddered Adrian. “Each artist MUST rein in his eagerness, his drive to demonstrate innovation, by remembering: we’re just in the first category. They need to leave enough hair on their partners to allow for the next two categories, and the all-important final test: after the fur flies, do you still have enough hair to groom into a traditional poodle style?”
“And the dogs themselves, do they have any requirements?” bantered Anita. “Could my neighbor Bill just, say, show up with his teacup poodle?” she laughed.
“And how funny would that be!” responded Adrian, rolling his eyes. Richard yawned and looked away, disgusted with the thought. “Of course, all our poodles today are standard.”
With that, the judges’ buzzer cut the noise. “HOLSTER TRIMMERS! TRIMMERS DOWN!” bellowed the voice. “Two minute cleanup!”
The buzzing stopped and amid a chorus of polite applause and several barks. Neither artists nor dogs knew it, but Famous Monuments and Buildings would test them next.