Column: Pet massage parlor delay blamed on Tyler Perry
Construction on a pet massage parlor in Lenoir County has been halted due to what is being described as "a financial hiccup".
"I've dreamed of owning my own business since I was a kid," said Kevin Morgan, 46, of La Grange. "My first venture was a lemonade stand when I was six-years-old. At first it didn't turn much of a profit, but after I learned how to water down the lemonade the cash started rolling in."
Morgan later invested the money he earned selling watered-down lemonade into another successful venture.
"By the time I reached middle school I was a mogul," Morgan said. "I had seven kids working for me, selling 10-cent packs of Now & Later candy on the school buses for 25 cents each. Later on I added Nabs and sodas to the menu, and by the time I reached high school I had a battery-powered Fry Daddy set up in my locker. I sold more hot dogs than Oscar Meyer in those days."
Morgan's latest business venture was inspired by what he describes as "the humanization of animals".
"In my lifetime, pets - especially dogs - have been elevated to the status of people," Morgan said. "Used to be you'd provide your dog with a little house, food, water, flea/tick medicine, the occasional vet visit and the rest was up to the dog. Now people take their dogs to psychiatrists who prescribe doggie Prozac because Fluffy seems a little morose. What has a dog got to be depressed about, a squeaky toy embargo?"
Morgan did some research and discovered there was a term for treating an animal as if it were a human.
"Anthropomorphism...," Morgan said while reading from his notes with the aid of a monocle. "...is the attribution of human motivation, characteristics, or behavior to inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomena. According to a Michael Landa article published on TheSprucePets.com, 'constant affection, gifts, and accommodations without rules, boundaries and limitations go against every grain in a dog's instinct.' In other words, treating animals as if they were people is stressing them out."
Eleven months ago Morgan contacted his business manager Jonathan Massey with a novel idea.
"Kevin wanted me to find investors for a pet massage parlor," Massey said while seemingly biting his lower lip to ward off laughter. "He wanted to build a place that would cater to the people-who-think-animals-are-people crowd. After I caught my breath and wiped the water from my eyes, I started looking for licensed pet masseuses. I even found a cat that would massage people and cats. It was as if Dr. Moreau was back in business."
With Morgan full of enthusiasm and Massey having started a regiment of ani-laugh biotics, the search for investors began. And nothing happened.
"It was like trying to find investors for a skating rink in Antarctica," Massey said. "The outlook was bleak."
Then one day the impossible happened. As Morgan was checking his Facebook page, someone tagged him in a post that he believed could change his life.
"Tyler Perry - the guy who makes all the Madea movies - was giving out a million dollars to people who shared his message on Facebook," Morgan said. "I thought 'Madea Goes To Jail' was pretty good, but I had no idea Tyler Perry was such a cool dude. I shared the post immediately and ordered a thousand wallets to hold all my money."
While Morgan waited to receive one million of Tyler Perry's dollars, he went ahead and gave the construction crew the green light to start on his pet massage parlor.
"I was a little skeptical about the free Madea money," Massey said. "But when I saw it was posted on the internet I realized it had to be true, so I shared the message on three of my social media platforms. After crunching the numbers on a calculator for a few hours, I determined $3 million was three times better than $1 million."
To keep the construction workers paid until Tyler Perry's money showed up, Morgan and Massey emptied their savings accounts, sold off their stock holdings and pawned valuable keepsakes.
"Our combined capital topped out at $13,000 - $13,000.68 if you include our individual Beanie Babies collections," Morgan said. "But with millions about to come in from Tyler Perry, what we got rid of seemed like chump change."
Three weeks later in the cold light of day, Morgan's "chump" analogy seems painfully appropriate. On July 11, Tyler Perry issued the following statement:
"I am not giving away anything on Facebook. I am not giving away any money. My team has to shut down these things every day. I'm not giving away anything. Stop it, devil."
After a prolonged weeping fit that paramedics said rendered them "dangerously dehydrated", Morgan and Massey halted construction on their pet massage parlor.
"It's not about the money," Massey said. "Actually, it is about the money."
"I don't know what I'm going to do," Morgan said as he held up one Squealer the Pig Beanie Baby he hadn't sold. "I wonder how this thing would taste with some eggs and toast?"
Contact Jon Dawson at email@example.com and www.jondawson.com.