Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Wag's as Good as a Bark

When our children were younger, we had fish. The big tank, the colored gravel, the filtration systems, that deep sea diver guy near the castle, the PH kits and the flakes of food carefully measured out. 

Actually, we didn’t have fish. My children had fish and my wife took care of them. I stared wistfully at the tartar sauce in the fridge and dreamed about what might have been.

When I was a child, I had a cocker spaniel, Sandy (the Aurora is Rising Behind Us? Nope, not even close). A dog that my own very sketchy memories as a four and five-year-old recalls hated me and everyone on earth with the exception of my father, whom it feared (and with good reason). 

I was told the dog was a present from my mom’s mom and wasn’t necessarily welcomed as a good idea by either of my parents, which helps explain the disdain and animus in which my father held it, I guess.

Later my sister had dogs and so our family had dogs for many years with Mom being the primary caretaker responsible for both ends of the animals. I was always very good at the patting of the head part.  As we each moved out and away, Mom inherited the dog, whichever one it was at the time.

Sigrid and I have never had a discussion on a ‘family pet’ after the fish craze came and went because neither of us wanted one. Instead, we feed the neighborhood squirrels with five-pound bags of shelled peanuts we buy at the warehouse club, usually four and five bags at a time (it’ll get us through about six weeks, less if we’ll keep throwing them out there because they keep coming back for more).

The guy checking the receipts at the door of the warehouse club just shakes his head, smiles, and mutters about ‘you squirrel people,’ but as our daughter, Michelle points out (correctly I think) of greater concern should be the folks who buy the bags of peanuts and don’t feed the squirrels. Just how many runaway elephants do you think there are in Eastern Connecticut?          

The squirrels are sort of our pets, except we don’t let them in the house or pet them or worry too much about them (me, mostly) unless we see one flattened in the street then we’re a little tentative for a couple of hours.  At Christmas time, I go out and buy a bag of mixed nuts, with walnuts and pecans and Brazil nuts, sort of as a present; as if any of the rodents, but with better press clippings, has any idea what’s going on. It’s fun to watch them try to figure out what to do with a Brazil nut before settling for doing what they do with all of them, bury it.  

I mention all of this so that you can gauge my level of meh when I come across something like this. Sorry about your lack of potable water, substandard housing, raging, incurable diseases and/or poor harvests per acre of arable land, you developing nations, but we’ve got serious stuff to attend to around here, and it ain’t you. I was leaning towards a colloquialism that has only four letters and starts with S and ends with T, rather than stuff.  You dig?

In a civilization that has cell phones to take pictures of our food to post on line, send cat memes and now cat memes with Clinton or Trump to one another, or to capture Pokemon Go figures, avatars, or characters (I’m so decrepit I don’t even know what they’re called), of course there’d be an app for that. And then we wonder why so many third world nations hate us. Be careful you don’t step in it.
-bill kenny 

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