Just Bill and the Mister

November 27, 2009

BLACK FRIDAY, A LA CORMAC MCCARTHY

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The horses, bowed to sparse patches of grass raised their heads as one.  From the salt plains below came again the muffled roar, an ululation of thousands hidden by foothills where, many miles off, the plain gave way and climbed to the horizon.

Rising and falling on the wind, the sound still came, long enough now to become part of the ambient world for the horses, so that again as one they bowed to the grasses.  After their stoic fashion, the three travelers bowed as well to continue counting. 

This was not an obsequious bow before some potentate, that infamous gesture of concession and disgrace so recently enacted to the horror of those living off the map to the right of the foothills.  No.  Each man was isolated in his own financial maze.  But also, like their horses they formed a unity as they counted, the thin tens and twenties fluttering on each man’s counting rock, small change ringing on the slabs like wind chimes.

By now, the distant sound of shopping had lost its power for the three.  Resigned, each man had relinquished the adrenaline rush that precedes combat.  Still counting they concentrated, each confident in his weapons, his kit—the debit cards and letters of credit, checks, and the Krugerrands secured around each man’s waist, gold coins that would serve as a final, last resort should yet another blow to the economy come just as some key transaction was taking place, some much coveted video game  for this boy, the push-up bra and bustier needed for cheerleading practice by that teenage girl, the new tap shoes and red fedora and the floor lamp for a loyal spouse left at home and, like the counters, bent no doubt to her own task, at laundry hamper, staff meeting or hydrangea bed.

The ululation grew again and the men stopped counting.  All their hard-won sang froid suddenly gave way, slipped from sturdy shoulders down the slope past their mounts to flow in rivulets into the pumice dust and small stones of the desert.  There would be no victory this Black Friday, no triumph.  After the battle with women slashing through piles of men’s sweaters, hacking and pounding in a ravening search for this same chartreuse-and-fuchsia tartan leotard but in a plus-size, the men saw as one their collective defeat–the money, the checks and letters of credit, even the precious Krugerrands all snatched away by clerks who handed them, grinning and awful in victory, plastic sacks heavy or light with wearable, edible, playable or readable fecal matter that, for all their efforts, would turn out to be wrong.

And so, stoic and wordless they gathered up the reins, swung creaking into worn saddles and not hesitating began the slow downward first leg of their ordeal to the salt plain, the horses knowing it all already, the terrible morning and afternoon to follow of the annual trek into Retail.

November 19, 2009

FREUD, FISH PONDS, MEMENTO MORI–PART TWO

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The pond.  Bill seems to like being next to it when the three of us sit out there before dinner.  It has metaphorical possibilities that I wish I could explain to him. 

In its small way, our pond serves to keep me mindful of Freud’s analogy to explain psychoanalysis.  Freud compared analysis to draining something in the Netherlands called the Zuider Zee swamp.  The more you drain the psyche’s swamp by chatting with your shrink, the more you expose what lies below consciousness.  This means more of your cognitive real estate is made available for–whatever.  Experiential agriculture, you might call it.  Our little backyard pond serves to remind me of just how much of my own mental real estate is either buried deeper than the Marianas Trench, or lying fallow topside. 

When we bought this house, the owner explained what I would need to do to keep the pond functioning.  Of course she concealed the more disgusting features of the job, focusing instead on the simple draining part. 

This would be accomplished with the quaint, old sump pump she would leave for me in the garage.  Just stick it in, turn it on, and let old mister pump do the rest, she said.  Good, I thought.  That’s simple enough for my skills level.  But as someone both wiser and less habituated to apartment living might have known, nothing good or simple would figure. 

But that first spring, I did manage to get the sump pump working.  Effluvia gushed from the attached hose.  It was very satisfying to see.  I had noticed the pump’s wiring was partially exposed, but since the thing worked, good enough. 

Who can know why things turn out as they do?  It’s like taking a walk, turning to see a skinny stray dog following you, deciding to walk home with him, and as a result changing your life.    

 As the pump chugged along, it exposed more and more of the Zuider Zee.  I could tell all the water wouldn’t be gone, and when it stopped flowing, I took off my shoes and rolled up my pants.  With a rake I stepped gingerly down into the chilly water, and began scraping up rotted leaves. 

 The whole thing stank and seemed to move.  That I now saw was because of mosquito larvae.  I dumped loads of this stinking sewage into a bucket, stepped out and threw the contents on waiting flower beds.  As I moved back and forth into the water, the oddest tingling played about my feet, even in my hands as I worked the metal-handled rake. 

Who can say how long it was this went on before it dawned on me–the mister, the  professor emeritus, defender of the higher sublimations of literature, scourge of the dangling participle and tireless enemy of the passive voice–that where water and electrical current are present, humans should be absent?

Hearing all this later, my friend Bob, an electrical engineer, just stared at me.  He has no beard, but at the moment bore a striking resemblance to Freud.  After a long pause, he shrugged.  You should be dead, he told me.  Never do it again.  You’ve used up every piece of luck you still had coming.

November 17, 2009

FREUD, FISH PONDS, MEMENTO MORI–PART ONE

Filed under: Uncategorized — bknister @ 11:27 am
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It’s fall.  The leaves are turning, and it makes me sad.  Not for the same reasons that lead humans to feel melancholy in the fall—thoughts of loved ones and friends who are no more, the paradox of death in beauty, etc.

No, for reasons I can’t understand—after all, I’m a dog–all the great smells that come  with autumn, and the wonderful, cooler weather mean nothing to the mister and missus.  No, that’s not true.  It means something to them, but something all wrong.  Soon, they’ll start packing for our trip south.

Every year at this time, the mister takes out the fountain in the back yard.  It operates in a small pond, and day and night it runs all summer.  He calls it “the heart and soul of our modest establishment.”  He says sitting next to the fountain is his favorite place to have a rob roy before dinner.  Birds love the pond.  They use it for bathing. 

The neighborhood cats also love it, but not to bathe in.  Cats are the reason for one of my jobs here–to provide security for the birds.  The missus is very big on birds, and I’m happy to oblige.  Squirrels are my thing—but I always fail to catch them.

The real work related to the pond and fountain isn’t done in the fall, but in the spring.  The mister says everyone here has work to do of this kind, come May.  Where we live he calls Ozzie and Harriet country, with lots of little faux water falls and cascades, rivulets, pools and fountains. 

He says such doodads, and the Old English lettering on the town’s gentrified billboard up on Woodward make our Ozzie-Harriet status clear to all.  Not to mention street signs that identify certain blocks as a “historical district.”  He says any less vigilant attention to appearances would send our burgeoning gay community into a tizzy. 

I love the signs too.  They have concrete supports perfect for posting p-mail.

MITIGATION BLUES, PART TWO

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 Friends called, good ones we’ve known a long time.  But it had been a while.  Like us, they’re retired, empty nesters.  They’re educated and funny, and we always look forward to seeing them.

 We went to a local sports bar that serves good food.  “What’s the latest?” I asked after we ordered drinks.  “Do any traveling this summer?

 “We did.”  The wife shook her head.  “Poor Leonard.  That’s my brother’s brother-in-law.  He had this, I think it’s called…  Honey, what’s it called?”

 “A fistula.”

 “A fistula.  On his head.  It was much improved when we visited.  I mean the brother-in-law looked much better than the before-photos they showed us.  At least after the surgery, this fistula thing was no longer changing the shape of his head.  Except at a certain angle.  Otherwise, you could hardly tell.”

 “Except for the sutures.”

 “Well, yes, they hadn’t yet taken them out.  All that black thread does sort of draw your attention.  You had to make a conscious effort to look him in the eye.”

 “I used the chin.”

 “It’s prominent, that’s true, it helped.”

The drinks arrived.  “To us,” my wife said.  “Survivors, and counting.”

We all quaffed and settled back.  “How about Brandon?” I asked.   Brandon is the son.

“Oh, Brandon, God bless him,” his mother said as Brandon’s father drank deep.  “He’s in this kind of vicious cycle.  When you’ve been unemployed that long, you just pretty much give up.  Who can blame him?”

Brandon’s dad finished up and began signaling the waiter. 

“Isn’t that right, honey?”

“That’s right.”

“Honey I don’t think they like being cuffed at like that.”

“Then they should watch their tables.”  Brandon’s dad was now nodding emphatically, pointing down at his glass.

“He used to be such a help around the house,” the wife said.  “Brandon.  Emptying his ashtray, cleaning up the bathroom floor after a big night out.  But when you’ve been down that long, rejected that many times, even for minimum wage work–”

Faster than anyone could have hoped, our waiter was back with another round.  Brandon’s dad drained off half of his new pint.  He sighed and put down his glass.  “I can’t criticize him,” he said.

“No, you can’t,” Brandon’s mom said. 

“Don’t start.”

“I’m not starting anything.  I’m saying you can’t be saying anything about Brandon not helping out.”

“I’m retired.”

“That’s an understatement.”

Perhaps it was here that I now remembered why so much time had passed since our last get-together.

“How about Heather?”  My wife raised her chardonnay.  “To Heather and her beautiful family.”

“Heather’s great,” her dad said.  “The best daughter you could ever want.”

“And Buster’s really come a long way with the anger-management class,” Heather’s mom added.  Buster is Heather’s husband.  “After the incident, we all laid down the law and he got the message.  He really did, it’s such a relief.”

I was surprised to see how fast everyone was drinking, well along with this second round.  But Heather still seemed a good bet.  “Wasn’t she working on an MBA?”

“Oh, that’s long over, she’s studying now for the CPA exam.”

“And if I remember, Buster’s in recycling?”

Buster’s father-in-law shook his head.  “That was before the anger-management class.”

Done with my beer, I saw it was my turn to do the waving and eyebrow-raising.  “But he’s feeling better?” I asked.

“He better feel better,” Heather’s dad said.

“It’s not called anger management anymore,” Buster’s mother-in-law explained.  “It’s called anger mitigation.  I think they got that from the change from risk management to risk mitigation.”

Here he was, coming back, our capable young man in white shirt and black snap-on bowtie, balancing more drinks.  You could see he wouldn’t be waiting table long, that he knew his efforts would yield a huge gratuity when and if the evening came to an end.

But it took a long time.  Any number of other cousins, aunts, nephews, family friends, retainers and former colleagues had it seemed been forced to contend with demanding life challenges.  Without the great good luck to have the best waiter in Christendom, there’s no telling what mitigation or intervention might have been needed. 

We ate to our friends’ bifurcated monologue.  We shoved in whatever we’d ordered, nodding, chewing, signaling the waiter, frowning, shaking our heads.  Drug addiction and rehab, an industrial accident, a rear-end collision that ended in a rollover, food poisoning, stents that failed, someone whose forehead had doubled in size after being bitten by a cat.

“And after the incident, Heather and Buster had such high hopes for a fresh start in Smilesberg,” Heather’s mom said.  “They completely checked it out–the neighborhood, the shopping.  They closed and moved in just before school started.”

“Bad news.”  The husband shoved glasses aside to make room for his elbows.  “Lousy luck.”

“Their realtor misled them,” his wife said.  “They were certain they’d bought in the Smilesberg school district.  But there’s this little, tiny wedge of Smilesberg that’s zoned for Crumley.  That sweet little girl has to go to a Crumley school.”

“Uh oh, Crumley.”  This just came out, and I immediately regretted it.  I made room on the table.  “You could argue, though–” Hands folded, I was hoping for inspiration  “–that once they caught the guy, that whole community would be off limits to child molesters.”

“Oh, they caught him,” the wife said, “and you could argue that way.  Unless it was your six-year-old granddaughter in a Crumley school.”

A pause ensued.  There had been others, but this one was especially welcome.  “Anyway,” my wife said finally, “how’s Randy?’ 

How I love her. Holding fire for so long, waiting her chance and biding her time, my wife had at last jumped in with her ace in the hole, a question about our friends’ family dog.  Randy is the size of a small bison.  Healthy and powerful, with vice-like jaws and a sinister, perpetual spittle-flecked grin inside his muzzle, Randy was going to turn things around.

“Much better,” Randy’s mom said.  “It was touch and go there, after the attack.”

“Pit bulls should be outlawed,” her husband added.  “They’re overbred, unpredicatable.  How can you know what’s going on behind eyes like that?”

This is exactly what I’ve always thought about Randy.  “He was actually attacked?”

“‘Actually?’” Randy’s mom folded her arms.  “I don’t know what ‘actually’ means.  He had his face thing on so he couldn’t defend himself.  The bill was fourteen hundred bucks.”

“Yes,” my wife said, nodding gravely in defeat.  After a moment she raised her head, and now her face grew wistful.  When I glanced up, I saw she was looking at a Tigers game on one of the TVs.  “That’s actual.”

 Her quiver was now empty, Randy her last arrow.  I wanted another drink, but kept my hands folded.

MITIGATION BLUES, PART ONE

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The mister is nerving himself up to write about people he and the missus know.  These people have been to our den for parties, but the member of their family I know best is their dog Randy.  From his p-mail. 

 I’m big, but Randy is huge.  Bulky and loping, he has a head the size of the one a different friend of the mister’s put on his wall after a trip to Alaska.  It has weird headgear I don’t get at all.

When he’s taken out walking, Randy wears headgear, too, called a muzzle.  To be honest, I’m glad they make him wear it, from the noises he makes inside the thing.  I think his mister and missus got Randy because they’re afraid of something.

GOD’S SCOURGE AND MINISTER

Filed under: Uncategorized — bknister @ 10:23 am
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Reflecting on our last entry, Bill and I have concluded that we’re actually fortunate to have people like the reverends Wicker and Wright.  Their pronouncements work to restore in us a respect for qualities like restraint and generosity. 

 (To be fair, this applies only to yours truly.  Aside from liberties taken with the swimming pool, and the occasional loss of control related to digging, Bill is always restrained and generous.)

 Reverend Wright, as it now turns out, seems to revel in his new status as a celebrity.  Remember?  Appearing first on Bill Moyer’s PBS program last spring, he later agreed to have himself filmed delivering another of his fiery sermons. 

 In this one, he suggested the AIDS epidemic in Africa was the work of Americans.  He thus convinced both Bill and me that I was wrong in thinking Wright would, if he could, take back his earlier appeals to God to damn America .  No, he’s just one more self-promoter with no wish to temper his remarks so as to aid his one-time parishioner, the new President. 

 Then there’s Reverend Wicker.  A special level of gratitude is owed to him, in recognition of the fit of apoplexy he seems willing to risk at any mention of gay marriage.  But risk it he does, since nothing else seems to occupy his thoughts. 

 And I think Bill and I have figured out (that’s Bill the dog, not Bill Moyers) the reason for the great appeal Reverend Wicker holds for his huge flock.  (Go see his church.  It rivals the assembly building at Cape Canaveral.) The reason is this:  Reverend Wicker has elevated the social and religious contract that binds two people in marriage to a level of such significance that civilization itself depends on it. 

 But the contract is only legitimate when drawn up between heterosexuals.  This means  married men and women with even the most modest skill sets, people who never thought about it before–or couldn’t–are now learning for the first time, from the good reverend, that the very sub-basement and foundation of civilization depends on them.  This is significant.  It’s dramatic and profound for such people to all at once learn that everything standing between human society and the Outer Darkness draws its strength from them. 

 Best of all, you don’t have to know anything.  You don’t have to think or reflect in any way, because just being straight makes you personally responsible for civilization.  So, let’s go again this Sunday.  Let’s listen as Reverend Wicker once more tells us how important we are, just because we’re married. 

 But do we want others to share in this special status?  No!  It’s for us and us alone.  Wicker says so.  This way, it doesn’t matter whether we lack generosity of spirit, or knowledge of the scientific realities of homosexuality, or awareness of any of the positive attributes of all human beings excepting sociopaths.  It doesn’t matter because we’re married, and straight.  That’s our ticket to the game, our free pass to virtue and meaning. 

 I heard a good story.  Curious about the behemoth size of Wicker’s church, two straight married men went one Sunday.  Approaching the entry, one said to the other, “Should we give them a double whammy?”  His friend asked how they would do it.  “Just hold my hand.”  In the end, they didn’t deliver the double whammy, but no matter.  Straight or not, they must have looked, you know, that way:  Not one of Wicker’s huge flock greeted the new visitors to their church, or in any way extended the hand of fellowship. 

 On second thought, better make that personship.  We wouldn’t want a reference to fellows causing another Wicker seizure.  Would we?

November 14, 2009

A BRACE OF BAPTISTS, A POPE BASHER

Filed under: Uncategorized — bknister @ 9:23 am

 

Not far from our winter home in the hanging-chad state of Florida, a local minister is championing an amendment to the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

 This minister has even published his conviction that the prospect of gay marriage represents “a tremendous social crisis, greater even than the issue of slavery.”  He’s gone so far as to suggest that if gay marriage goes unchecked, it won’t be long before people are marrying animals. 

 (Alarmed when I read this to him, Bill sat up, his ears at attention.  I reassured him the ASPCU would never let it happen.) 

 Coming on the heels of the flap over Barack Obama’s former minister (another Baptist, by the way), the Florida pastor’s pulpit-pounding harangues take on special meaning.  The white minister is convinced that, if allowed to marry, the gay single-digit percentage of the population will destroy the true meaning of marriage for the straight majority.  And along with it, the fabric of civilization.  By contrast, his black counterpart used to call on God to damn the U.S. for racism. 

 As if God weren’t busy enough.  But given the cause to which the white Florida divine now zealously lends his support, what person with any sense of fair play would not be inclined to give Barack Obama’s former minister a break? 

 All Reverend Jeremiah Wright can be criticized for is having failed, about twenty years ago, to imagine an America radically different from the one he was occupying in Chicago’s south side ghetto.  An America so different that it would one day elect as President a young member of his all-black congregation.  If Wright had imagined this twenty years ago, chances are good he would have sought out a therapist.

 Some days later, the same Florida newspaper printed a letter bashing Roman Catholics.  This epistle took believers to task for admiring the current pope.  The writer claimed their admiration revealed a failure to understand how, through his rejection of contraception, Benedict XVI was responsible for millions of deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.  The writer insisted that the “suffering and deaths of …wives and frequently of the children they bear in this HIV/AIDS holocaust have exceeded by far that suffered by the Jews at the hands of the Nazis.” 

 A man of the cloth tells us the prospect of homosexuals getting married represents a social disaster greater than slavery?  Another calls on God to drop what he’s doing and damn a country because of its record on race?  A third visionary asserts that the pope’s stand on rubbers is responsible for more suffering than the Holocaust? 

 Bill and I have a suggestion. 

 Let’s start a fund.  Aside, obviously, from administrative expenses, this fund’s only line item will be payments made to young people working their way through college.  Their light-duty summer job will consist of carrying buckets of water to the homes of people like the two ministers and the letter writer who hates the pope.  After inserting a pre-printed note in the mailbox, the student rings the doorbell.  When the door opens, the student throws the bucket of water on the nut case in the open doorway, then runs away yelling “Read your mail!”

 Everyone gets to make up a note.  This one is Bill’s and mine.

November 9, 2009

baseball blues

Filed under: Uncategorized — bknister @ 12:29 pm
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The mister is watching a post-season baseball game, the Angels and Yankees.  I think it’s probably better for him than actually going to games.    

He and the missus went to a Tigers game in late September.  After they left, I lay on the kitchen floor, listening, dozing.  But right away I knew when they finally turned the corner onto our block. 

Being a dog and not having much sense of time passing, I never know how long they’ve been gone.  But I know the sound of their two cars.  They’re different from all the other sounds made by the neighbors’ cars, pickup trucks, vans, motorcycles, SUVs, motorized scooters, lawnmowers, weed whackers, edgers, chain saws, leaf blowers and so forth. 

Just before they turn in the drive, I hear the garage door start to open.  How this door knows what I know is a mystery to me.  I see no evidence of dogness to it, but it doesn’t matter, because that sound means they really are back, not just passing in front of the house and going away again (say, back for the bag of ice they paid for but then forgot to take out of the freezer on leaving the market). 

This is when I get up and stand waiting.  When I actually see them walking from the garage, I stand on my hind legs and place my paws on the door.  This way, I’m looking out the window when they come up the stairs.  I’ve come to think these little bits of stage business are important to them, that they like seeing me waiting this way. 

I think they like knowing it matters to me they’ve come back–and it does.  Once they’re inside, I am lavished with praise, and usually get a treat in the bargain.  As with the garage door, I have no idea how this works.  Why having slept for hours makes me worthy of so much attention is another mystery, but I’m not complaining.

The missus drives a Buick, the mister a Dodge van.  The van is what we use to go back and forth to Florida.  The traveling means we’re what’s called snowbirds.  There’s another mystery:  just when the weather starts to get better here in Michigan—cooler, more comfortable—the mister and missus start loading all kinds of things in the van, along with my crate.

I got sidetracked.  That may be a function of my powerful sense of smell.  Every time a really good, new aroma wafts past, I forget whatever I’m doing.  It was bagels this time.  The missus is toasting one.

As I was saying, last month the mister and missus went to a baseball game, at Comerica Park.  That’s where the Tigers play. I see other parks when the mister watches baseball on TV.  Yes, there’s grass in these places, and something like sidewalks.  But unlike MY parks, there are no trees or trash barrels or parking barriers or railroad ties where dogs can post messages.

But OK, if he wants to call it a park, it’s a park.  Really, though, he gets too excited watching sports on TV.  Or politics.  He’d be better off sticking to Law and Order, or reading.    Sometimes, the missus gets mad at him for how he’s acting.  Yelling, pointing.  It’s even worse with the Lions.  That’s a football team here in Michigan.  They won some kind of award or prize last year.  They won it for what the mister called a perfect season in the parallel universe occupied by losers who have gained fame through total failure.

Anyway, I don’t think he had a good time at the game.  He came back smelling annoyed.  He really does like baseball, which he says is the last thing on most people’s minds at Comerica Park.  He said the only athletic feature of the game was getting up and sitting down every two minutes for close to four hours.  He said the people sitting in his row and the one in front of him came to the game only to eat, drink and answer text messages. 

According to the mister, the two men in front of him ate a total of eight hotdogs or bratwursts, two bags of peanuts and two of roasted almonds, a large order of nachos they shared at the beginning as an appetizer, and drank fourteen beers.  He says they tapered off after what’s called the seventh-inning stretch, but closed out the afternoon at the top of the ninth inning with chocolate ice cream bars. 

The mister thinks even more eating and drinking figured on the men’s trips to the toilet and beer stand.  Baseball, according to him, is a slower sport, which means you need to stay alert.  He said it didn’t matter how alert he was, because most of the time he was staring at the back of a Polanco or a Cabrera baseball shirt, what the men in front of him wore to the game. 

But the mister worked hard at not getting angry.  This was because the missus was  enjoying the game.  And also because the two men—for what he says are obvious reasons—were huge.

He also hates all the amplified noise.  He thinks this may stem from the Detroit Tigers being owned by the same man who owns the Detroit Red Wings, a hockey team.  This man bought both teams with money he made selling pizza. 

The Red Wings play their sport at Joe Louis Arena.  It isn’t a park, it’s a big theatre with ice.  The mister says he never goes because it’s so loud.  He thinks the pizza man is now making use of the same behavioral-science techniques at Tigers games—rock music, promotional giveaways, contests, people in uniform being brought out for applause, other people in wheelchairs brought out to be acknowledged for their courage before adversity, flashing statistics accompanied by drums rolls and rim shots (whatever they are). 

None of it is the mister’s thing.  He was glad to get home.

November 8, 2009

SPEAK MISTER SPEAK

Filed under: Uncategorized — bknister @ 12:01 pm

Bill wasn’t wrong yesterday when he said I was old.  I’m well into what novelist Bruce Wagner calls the third trimester of life.  Nor was Bill wrong to suggest I often prefer his company to that of people.  Very possibly, the two facts are related.  My advanced age could in part account for why, more and more often, I favor the society of dogs. 

But even if getting old explains my new social-networking preference, stop and think how things stand these days.  A huge TV audience watches nightly as men in cages try to turn each other into protoplasmic pulp; a radio talk-show host fervently hopes the new American president will fail; angry protesters strap on guns for town meetings, plus a millionaire sports celebrity amuses himself by running a dog-fighting “club.”   Old or young, you learn such things and think something’s wrong, or you don’t.

But consider this as well: if aggression, opportunism, incivility and the rest of it form the taproot of human nature, why do you feel so good when someone treats you well?  Why is it pleasurable to be generous, and what accounts for how you always know when kindness is withheld from you?  

Bill understands all this, and acts accordingly.  Believe me, he does.  Why, then, is it that so many of us don’t?  But when he says I know him as well as he knows me, that’s debatable.  After all, Bill has the gift of canine scent perception.  What his nose knows must be amazing. 

In fact, one of the names we considered for our joint venture was EmailPmail. 

Like you, several times a day I read my messages.  And part of the obligation I assumed the morning Bill came out of the woods is to provide him with opportunities to read his.  This he does four times a day, on our walks.  He keeps current with breaking news through careful, detailed analyses of the mail left on trees, leafy foliage and flowers, fire hydrants, lampposts.  Reading and posting as he goes, Bill manages the torrent of data being updated 24-7 by mostly unnamed sources.    

But back to MOK (My Own Kind).   He commented yesterday on nighttime cable talk shows.  Lots of unnamed sources figure there, too, right?  What with my frequent bouts of Tourette Syndrome during visits to these programs, I’m sure Bill would prefer me to stick to Law and Order reruns.  So would my wife. 

And the same sludge figures during the day, on Talk Radio.  Thousands of truckers in semis and haulaways are barreling down the Interstate all over the country, listening and nodding in agreement with the sludge, joined by how many sales reps, shoppers, tradesmen and CEOs? 

But as with cable, I can and do snap it off.  Life, though, that’s a whole different bag.  True, with a solid ceiling fixture, a stout piece of rope and a kitchen chair, you can snap life off as well.  Snapping it back on, though, there’s the rub.  

No, here in Michigan, or down in Florida where we spend the winter, there’s LIFE, blinking night and day like some biometric cursor.  And just when the cursor seems to have blinked uneventfully long enough to again restore hope in things human, blooey!

That’s going to be our beat, Bill’s and mine.  Between walks, meals and drinks, we will do our best to cast a cold eye on life and death.  And what we find will be what you get.

November 7, 2009

Post One Continued

Filed under: Uncategorized — bknister @ 11:54 am
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Hello, my name is Bill.  That’s my picture, and you’re right, I can’t talk or type.  But I am on very good terms with my mister.  He’s decided to speak for us both.

Why doesn’t he just speak for himself?  No idea.  After all, I’m a dog.  But maybe speaking for both of us frees him in some way.  Maybe imagining that I understand him helps him to express what’s on his mind.

Does this signal the onset of dementia?  Could be, he’s pretty old.  All I know is, if it makes him happy, fine with me.  He’s done a lot for me.  Three years ago I was born a mistake, at a puppy mill.  But the day after I was whelped, the breeder didn’t put me in the pillowcase with my littermates.  Instead of drowning me, he let me grow up.  I was big, and he was curious.  When I was nine months old, I escaped into the pine forest. 

That’s when my mister entered the picture.  I was in the woods I don’t know how long, but one day I came out on the road and followed the man who’s clicking all this down.  You could call it my leap-of-faith day, an act of intuition.  I was sick with parasites, couldn’t keep food down.  I’d lost a lot of weight and would be dead soon. 

So I stepped out of the woods, and that particular day the man typing this leaped, too.  With no thoughts about dogs or much else that morning besides bass fishing and golf, he decided to stop, turn around and wait for me.  When I neared him he put out his hand.  I touched it with my nose—and here we are.

It’s also possible that treating me as a co-writer has to do with how disgusted he often is these days with his own kind.  Mornings, he talks about it while reading the paper, evenings when he checks on certain cable TV shows.  He doesn’t watch them for long, just checks.  Sure enough, the same well-fed, dough-colored heads are still yammering.  He talks about them longer and louder if he has more than one rob roy before dinner.

“Yammering, dough-colored heads” doesn’t sound much like a dog, does it?  Chalk it up to life with the mister.  He’s always coming up with stuff like that.    

Clicking away up there at his table, he stops to think.  Then he reaches down and scratches my head.  As we look at each other, he speaks a word.  His eyes are friendly, the way they are when we walk in the woods.  Collaborate is the word.  My mister really does believe we’re doing this together.  It’s because of the way I return his gaze, how I’m ready at any time to go with him, anywhere at all.  That’s why he believes I’m his partner. His collaborator.

The way I trust him–to feed me and not forget to fill my water dish, to crack the van windows when we go shopping–that’s how you should trust that he knows me as well as I know him.  Tomorrow, after our morning walk, he’ll have something to say for himself.

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