Estimated reading time: 4 minute(s)

Below, you will find a fictional dialogue between Justin and Justina, two unusual-yet-similarly-named friends. Justin’s birthday was on May 2. Justina finally gets to see Justin to wish him a happy birthday on May 4. She comes bearing a present for Justin. There, in a carrier, is an adorable Abyssinian guinea pig. But is this guinea pig really a birthday present for Justin, or does Justina have an ulterior motive? Read on to find out.

Justin’s actions in this dialogue are inspired by an 1873 children’s short story called Naming the Kitten, which I covered in a separate article.

Act I 〜 The Birthday Greeting

Justina: Happy birthday Justin!
Justin: Not a big deal.
Justina: I’m sorry that I couldn’t visit on your actual birthday. 30, huh?
Justin: Not a big deal. Age is just a number. I don’t feel a day older than 57.
Justina: …
Justin: …
Justina: I brought you a present though!
Justin: Nice! You didn’t even need to ask me what I want this time. You’ve grown. That’s the greatest present of all.
Justina: Yeah, well this present is special. Look inside the carrier.
Justin: Wow, an Abyssinian guinea pig!

Illustration of an Abyssinian guinea pig from "The Raising and Care of Guinea Pigs" by A.C. Smith (1915)
Picture of an Abyssinian guinea pig from The Raising and Care of Guinea Pigs (1915) by AC Smith


Justina: Wait you know what kind it is?
Justin: I’m a repository for useless knowledge.

Act II 〜 My Guinea Pig is Your “Present”

Justina: So this is actually my guinea pig.
Justin: I suspected as much.
Justina: I’m going to let you take care of it forever. Happy birthday.
Justin: I’m honored.
Justina: So you can deal with feeding it, keeping it happy, and making sure it doesn’t die.
Justin: Naturally.
Justina: If it gets sick or vomits or something, that’s on you.
Justin: Of course.
Justina: And I have full visitation rights and everything, since it’s my guinea pig and all.
Justin: I have one question.
Justina: Yeah?
Justin: You keep calling it it. Is “it” a boy or a girl?
Justina: It hasn’t decided yet.
Justin: So you didn’t ask when you bought it.
Justina: Basically, yeah.

Act III 〜 Are You Ready For This Responsibility?

Justin: This is a big responsibility.
Justina: I know. But I believe in you. You better take care of my guinea pig.
Justin: I meant for you.
Justina: What do you mean? I’m being responsible by entrusting my guinea pig to your care.
Justin: You haven’t proven to me that you’re ready for this responsibility yet.
Justina: Huh? What do I need to do to prove that I am responsible enough to dump my responsibilities on you?
Justin: You must give the guinea pig a name, a name that I shall approve of.
Justina: That’s it? A name? Easy.
Justin: Is it? You didn’t even ask if it was a boy or a girl.
Justina: It hasn’t decided yet!
Justin: And you wonder why I question whether you’re ready for this responsibility.

Act IV 〜 Justina Tries to Name the Guinea Pig

Justina: A name, huh? Let me study this little… something’s… face.
Justin: I can’t believe you didn’t check its sex beforehand.
Justina: I got it. Stacey. This guinea pig will be Stacey.
Justin: Lazy.
Justina: Excuse me?
Justin: You just chose the first unisex name that came to mind.
Justina: And what of it?
Justin: Was Adrian unavailable?
Justina: Are you mocking me?
Justin: You’re mocking the process of proving your responsibility. I won’t accept laziness. Either you take this seriously or I will end up taking care of your guinea pig for the rest of its life while you accrue all the perks of owning an adorable pet without any of the responsibility.
Justina: That’s exactly what I want to happen.
Justin: Are you going to take this seriously or not?
Justina: Alright fine. I’ll choose the best name.
Justin: Good to see you finally acting responsibly.

Act V 〜 An Aside on Guinea Pig Loneliness

Justina: Aside, is it true that guinea pigs can die of loneliness?
Justin: Well, it’s better to have more than one.
Justina: That’s what I thought. But seemed like a bad idea when this one hasn’t decided its gender yet.
Justin: So you only got one because you forgot to check whether the one you got was a boy or a girl?
Justina: Basically.
Justin: Do you get credit for acting responsibly if it was necessary for you to do in light of your acting irresponsibly?
Justina: I think so, yes.
Justin: Of course you do. Now name your first guinea pig before we work on the second. Chop chop.

Act VI 〜 Justina Tries in Vain

Justina: Chopchop?
Justin: Nope nope.
Justina: Let’s see.
Justin: I’m waiting.
Justina: Babe!
Justin: It’s not that kind of pig.
Justina: Francis?
Justin: Bacon?
Justina: Maybe.
Justin: Not that kind of pig!
Justina: Shaggy?
Justin: Are you trying to make it self-conscious?
Justina: Abby?
Justin: Is that just because I told you it’s an Abyssinian guinea pig?
Justina: Yeah.
Justin: Lazy!
Justina: You haven’t been this impossible since your Pumpkin Taker nonsense!
Justin: Eureka!
Justina: …

Act VII 〜 Pumtake the Guinea Pig

Justin: Pumtake. Now that’s a name if I ever heard one.
Justina: That’s not a name…
Justin: Look at adorable little Pumtake. He loves the name.
Justina: That’s not his name. Wait, it’s a he?
Justin: Yeah, I checked while I was rejecting your lazy ideas.
Justina: Your idea is even lazier than my ideas.
Justin: My idea? You’re the one who said it.
Justina: I did not!
Justin: I was just recreating a short story from an 1873 children’s magazine, Justina. Just needed you to eventually snap and inadvertently win the ballgame. Proton Von style. You came through in the end.
Justina: I don’t approve of the name!
Justin: The guinea pig has decided that this is his name.
Justina: …
Justin: Who are you to deny your guinea pig his choice? Is that the kind of parent you want to be?
Justina: Fair point. I want to be an absentee parent with full visitation rights. But if that’s what he wants…
Justin: It’s settled then.
Justina: Alright. So let’s go buy me another guinea pig that you will be responsible for.
Justin: Sounds good. Pumtake is going to get a new friend.
Justina: Happy birthday, Justin.

Epilogue

It looks like Justin is going to be busy…

Illustration of a boy with two guinea pigs on a crate from a short story called "Peters Pets" in the May 1877 issue of "The Nursery" magazine.
Clipped from Peter’s Pets in the May 1877 issue of The Nursery magazine