Day Thirty-Eight: A Conversation

by Tom Noonan

“Do you think you could have a pet beaver?”

“What do you mean?”

“A beaver, as a pet.  Do you think you could have one?”

“Like, legally?”

“Well, no, but I guess that’s important too.”

“The legality of owning a beaver?”

“Yeah yeah, that.  But I meant would you be able to keep the beaver as a pet?”

“You mean, would it escape?”

“Yeah, sort of.  Like, would we, as humans, be able to keep it as a pet?”

“So, you’re wondering what kind of cage you would need?”

“No, not a cage.  I wouldn’t want it in a cage.  Could we keep it like a pet, like a dog?  Animals in cages aren’t pets.”

“So no rodents are pets?  No snakes?  Turtles?”

“No, they’re just confused.  They’re not willingly there.  If they knew where they actually were, they’d want to leave.  If you told them, ‘You know this is a cage, right?  This isn’t the world.’  They’d all want out.”

“Cages are transparent, they can see out.”

“Well, sure, they can see the room that they’re in.  They can probably even see a window to another world outside that one.  But they don’t know what those places are.  How are they supposed to know they can survive out there?  How are they supposed to know they can breathe out there?”

“You’re talking about the cave, right?”


“The cave, you know, accepting the reality we’re presented with?  Plato?”

“No, I’m talking about pets.  I’m talking about beavers”

“What about fish?”


“They couldn’t live outside their cages.  They can’t breathe outside.  The water inside the cage is the only place they can live.”

“Well it’s the only place they can live of what they can see.”


“That’s not the same.”

“Sure, it’s not.  You want to know about beavers?”

“Yes, that’s what I asked about.  Beavers.  Could you keep one as a pet?  Let it roam around your house like a dog?”

“You’d have to train it.”

“Exactly, but could you train it?  How much damage would your house take before you could train it?  Aren’t beavers strong?  Like, ant size-to-strength ratio strong?  Wouldn’t they tear apart everything before you could train them not to?”

“I’m not sure it’s the same ratio.”

“It’s not.  I’m sure it’s not, but they’re still fucking strong in pure destructive force.  Have you ever seen what they can do to a tree?”

“They build stuff with them, yeah.  Dams or whatever.”

“But first they fuck the tree up.  They’re carpenters but don’t have tools.  They can do all of that with what’s on their body.”

“Sure, I guess that’s true.”

“It is true.”


“So, could you keep a beaver as a pet?  That’s what I want to know.”

 “No, I guess not.”


“Is that the answer you were looking for?”