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Day 2.6 Betrayal - CROTCH DOGS MarkVictorYoung

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My best friend in Grade Nine was a girl, but we weren't boyfriend and girlfriend, our relationship was purely platonic. Katy was interested in all the best stuff. She loved Star Wars movies and comics and role-playing games—even more than I did—and she was the smartest person I knew. We always ended up at her house after school, watching TV, reading books or just talking in her basement, trying to avoid her "Little Bother." She had two enormous Pyrenees Mountain Dogs who would jam their sniffers right into your crotch area as soon as you walked in. They were mostly harmless as long as you didn't get knocked over and licked to death.

We went to the same public school and met in the library during the last half of Grade Eight. We were in different classes, but both of us volunteered as library helpers. I did it mostly to avoid being picked on at recess. Katy seemed to want to read the entire library. She volunteered so she could get to know the books she wanted to read next. When we shelved together and hung out in the stacks, she would tell me one of her amazing theories about the Way Things Are or some story about her Hero de Jour, like this one time Plato got in trouble with the King of Syracuse and was sold into slavery for a while until a wealthy admirer paid for his freedom and he returned to spreading his wisdom across the land. Good times.

The summer after Grade Eight I spent a lot of time over at her house, often reading from book lists she prepared for me. We rode our bikes, swam in her pool, went to movies, fended off her dogs and just hung out. Neither of us had a summer job and her parents both worked, so we pretty much had the run of the place, although we had to look after her brother, Davey. She would pick a topic for us to research and then we would spend part of the day at the public library reading everything we could about it, making notations in these little spiral-bound notebooks her mom got us. By the end of the day, we would be smarter than anyone else in the world about Roman mythology, African tree frogs or some former Canadian Prime Minister.

It might seem like that would be boring, but Katy made it seem really challenging and interesting, like a murder mystery we were solving. She would get right into it, her brown hair hanging in a curtain in front of her face as she concentrated, her skinny arms hugging a book on one side and scribbling with a pen on the other as she made notes. She had a kind of freckly face and a nice smile, good teeth (which meant no braces, unlike me) and dark eyes.

Of course, Davey was too little to stay at home alone, so we had to take him with us to the library all the time. The three of us would bike down there together with our backpacks full of books to be returned and come home later with another full load. He would always play with the train sets or watch a video while we were into our research and then he would get a bunch of dinosaur books to take out. He was into dinos in a big way. He was always playing with toy dinos, reading dino books, getting his mom to take him to "The Land Before Time" twelve times that summer. He even went to a Dinosaur-themed day camp at the museum. After, he came screaming into Katy's room, flapping his arms and she said, "Get out of here, Pteranadon. There are no scrumptious jubjubs in here for you." And out he went, cawing like mad.

Katy had a theory about why all kids seemed to go through a phase about dinosaurs. I'll call this the Dinosaur Theory.

"The existence of dinosaurs," she said, "is the first frightening concept for a child because they are evidence of the possibility of extinction, of which the child has never before conceived. Because dinosaurs are extinct, it means that things die. Even kids. What force fueled their inability to survive—was it random or deliberate? How will Death come for us and is it something we should watch out for? Will it come when we are dreaming? And is that something which should keep us awake at night? These questions are part of the fear and fascination kids have with dinosaurs."

"Huh," I said. "It's not just because they were totally powerful and cool? Like with wicked claws and teeth and stuff?"

"Sure. That's part of it, too."

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