388.Bait and Switch

Johnny is our dog, a black and white border collie/collie mix we rescued six years ago. He is technically my daughter Jess’s dog. His license says she is his owner. They are more like soul mates, if you ask me, but there was no such box on the license application to check. He is sweet natured and rarely barks; usually just one bark to get us to let him in. ( Jess does not bark at all, fortunately. That would be awkward in the ladies room or at hospital visits.) He’s getting old and often slides back down the stairs instead of bolting up them as he once did. Oh, Gravity, thy cruel force sucketh!! Now in his dotage, he skitters about on the hard wood floors like a pair of drunken elderly tap dancers with hip replacements– “tick, tick, tack, tick, tack, ticky, ticky, tack, tack…” throughout the night, all freekin’ night,  if we don’t gate him in the carpeted hallway. Sometimes his hips just give out and he falls down. Still, he’s a great dog and our world is a better place because his tuxedoed hair balled self is in it at knee level. This morning he just posted himself between my legs and stopped. I could not easily turn left or right. I’d have to step forward or back up to go to work. I swear he was a ninja instructor in an earlier lifetime, but he’s not talking. Ninja national security. He knows too much secret stuff… like how to eat my wife’s chicken chili lunch out of her lunch bag without a noise.

She had the audacity to yell at him for pilfering her lunch bag after she’d left it on the floor. That’s entrapment if you ask me. I promised to get him a good dog lawyer and maybe he’d get off for good behavior and time served.

Over the past two years he has had some sort of skin allergies that caused him to scratch endlessly, leaving his skin raw and oozing. Our vet determined that Johnny was allergic to his food. Now keep in mind that Johnny supplements his diet with used facial tissues that he pulls out of the trash and anything else his big snout sniffs out. He would scale Mt. Everest for a piece of bacon, I think. Anyway, the vet suggested that we serve Johnny the special dog food that is only for sale at the vet’s. Wow, how convenient is that? I mean the food is right there at the cash register.  And it only costs $100 per big bag. Okay, Johnny is worth it, no doubt, but come on, man!! What a squeeze play.

Oyster Crackers.jpgSo the new food looks like oyster crackers that you put on soup. Flavorless puffs of hypoallergenic nothingness that crunch and fool your taste buds that something good is happening between chews. Johnny did not approve. He sniffed at it with contempt and looked deep into our souls with his wise brown eyes…”how could you do this to me?” he seemed to ask. My clever wife squirted gluten free beef broth on top of the oyster crackers to bait and switch Johnny into eating. “You just need to fool him to get started and then he keeps going.” Her Cleverness seemed to be working until the day we found out the rest of the story.

Johnny has never been the neatest eater, so when some of his hypoallergenic oyster crackers began to appear in the toilet downstairs, I thought little of it. “Oh, he must have spilled some and Her Cleverness swept it up and emptied it into the toilet.” It did seem odd but hardly memorable, so I flushed the evidence of a brilliant passive-aggressive plot. Later I would learn of the intrigue and skill behind this pale flotsam.

One morning while getting dressed, my wife exclaimed, “What’s this?” as she scooped stale morsels of hypoallergenic dog oyster crackers out of her sock drawer. She emptied all the contents on the floor. Maybe a cup’s worth of crunchy tastelessness spilled out from the socks. “Don’t look at me! You’re the one who feeds him that cardboard crap diet. He’s mad at you.”Image result for crumbs on floor

“No. How could he open my drawers and dump food in?”

“I don’t know, but there is no dog food in my sock drawer, which is at the same level as yours.?”

Opening her underwear drawer, “Oh, Johhny!!” Again, about a cup of oyster crackers had been methodically dropped among her underthings. It was hysterical, although I’m not sure my wife fully believed that I was not a co-conspirator. Honestly, I wish I’d thought of it to begin with, but I didn’t, so there it ends… I hope.

About a week after  Her Cleverness cleaned out the sock drawer again; it was filled with another cup of crunchy nothings, more silent ninja passive-aggression whispers from Johnny. “Leave the gun; take the cannoli”, I pictured Johnny alone all day muttering lines from gangster movies as he implemented his dastardly dried goods export plan. He is good. First pulling the drawer out. How?  Then going to his dish to get a mouthful of dried mucus pellets. Next, carefully carrying the despised cargo to its rightful place, in a sock or underwear drawer, snickering at his dark deeds. Finally, using his unnaturally long snout to close the drawer. Brilliant. I wondered if he sat back and savored the cold bacon taste of canine revenge served deliciously late.

After careful analysis I figured that the spilled oyster crackers came from sloppy transportation from bowl to drawer. How many oyster crackers fit in a dog’s mouth at one time? I can only guess. How many trips did it take? We’ll never know. He’s keeping the code of silence, omerta in Sicily. Johnny is not Pavlov’s dog, nosirree. He gets bait and switch tactics, my bloguertos. I just hope my wife learns soon before I wake up to a severed horse’s head or a package of fish in newspaper. “Her Cleverness sleeps with the fishes.”

Oh Johnny!

 

253. Glomorous

“California Dreaming” comes to mind this morning as a cold gray rain drizzles relentlessly on the scattered layers of trampled maple leaves.  Creamy yellows, rusty reds, and shades of orange lose all their glory when they are plastered against the wet ground like forgotten Play Doh pie crust.  Fallen beauty now awaits the mouldering process that turns organic matter back into soil. It’s a necessary step in the cycle of life, this cold fall rain that strips away litters of leaves from their tenacious parent trees. Euthanasia comes to mind. It’s sometimes called mercy killing. And I wonder is it a merciful death that’s meant or the death of mercy? In any event, I take the thuggish assault by this weather personally.

Good Lord! I am a weather wimp, I tell myself. So the damn leaves have fallen on the cold wet ground? Get over it!! Winter is early and you are not really ready inside your head. So get the psychic equivalent of a wool sweater out of storage and put it on your oversensitive neural synapses. Turn up the thermostat and Man up! Seek and enjoy the warmth that is available and stop whining about what has moved on. Whew! That felt good, like the football coach pep talk to his losing junior varsity team. Still, a glommy gloom lingers on this dark Monday. A cruise ship could silently slip into town under the fog and drizzle and not be noticed till the frozen sunlight returns.

Joel, “What is that large object in the square? It looks like the Costa Concordia or the Titanic.”

BS, “Looks like someone left a cruise ship stranded there where the fountain used to be. That’s something you don’t see every day.”

Joel, “Hmmmm, there will be litigation here. I can almost taste it.”

BS, “What does litigation taste like, Counselor Joel?”

Joel, “That’s an astute question. Hmmmm. It tastes like precious metal in your mouth, like pure gold, fizzing in a bath of Dom Perignon champagne, chasing Russian caviar or goose liver pate into your upper gastro intestinal system.”

BS, “That’s a pretty complex palate, my friend.”

Joel, “Why yes, litigation is an acquired taste. It’s not for everyone, mind you.”

BS, “What if a person didn’t want it, you know, but was accidentally exposed to it. Like an attorney’s kid sips what it thinks is Coca Cola but it turns out to be liquid litigation. What then? Is there an antidote?”

Joel, “Again, astute, very astute. The antidote, though I can’t imagine why anyone would want it, is a tall glass of goat’s milk.”

BS, “Why goat’s milk?”

Joel, “It gloms onto one’s taste buds and coats the drinker’s throat, much like this nasty weather is coating our town.”

BS, “And does it leave an equivalent cruise ship in its aftermath?”

Joel, “Don’t be silly.”

BS, “It’s too late for that Joel. We are deep behind silly lines now and will have to fight our way back to normalcy. And since I did not have the ROTC training that you received during the Vietnam Conflict, I will follow your orders.”

Joel, “Very good then. One tactic I learned back in my training was to play possum in battle. In other words, when the lead began to fly, one should simply lie down until the shooting was all over. I found that to be the very essence of survival.”

BS, “Isn’t that also known as cowardice?”

Joel, “Oh no, quite the contrary. Sterling officers in my class were trained to survive and then lead a lead free life.”

BS, “You mean they never deployed?”

Joel, “Well, that’s why they were sterling, untarnished by the caustic atmosphere of war.”

BS, “But you did go to that famous civil rights march in Petersburg, Virginia, as I recall, didn’t you?”

Joel, “Yes, though my parents knew nothing of my liberal leanings, it was one of my proudest moments.”

BS, “Do tell, oh Prophet.”

Joel, “In my liberal college days, maybe because I was harassed for being in the ROTC, I signed up for the trip to Petersburg to protest the Jim Crow laws still on the books. In fact, this may be one of the key reasons why I chose law as a career.”

BS, “Please, Counselor. Remember that the first time you told me this story you signed up right after that most pretty young hunk of undergraduate woman signed up, and furthermore, that if she had signed up for the Sudanese equivalent of the Iditerod, you were going to sign up after her. Do you recall that, sir?”

Joel, “Well, there was that. But I was sprayed with fire hoses and chased by German shepherds.”

BS, “The breed of dog or the actual shepherds?”

Joel, “I will not dignify that question with a response. As we were abused by the militia and police that infamous day, I was knocked unconscious, only to be revived by the screaming pain of a broken collarbone.”

BS, “So what did you do?”

Joel, “My mates helped me back to the Rambler we had driven down from Pennsylvania, but when we got to the hospital, the staff refused to treat me. They hurled insults and scorn at us, and I could not even raise an arm to protest.”

BS, “That’s horrible! What cretins, what vermin, what termites in the good wood of society!!!”

Joel, “Actually it wasn’t so bad. I rode home with my head on Suzie’s freedom loving lap just inches below the forbidden fruit of her bosom. It was tantalizing: if I reached for her in my delirious state, the pain of moving my hand would coerce me to drop it. For hours I was so close to a lusty desire that could never be fulfilled.”

BS, “I thought you were a freedom fighter.”

Joel, “I- I- I was. Remember it was the Sixties; there were many causes to support.”

BS, “And your favorite was a double D?”

Joel, “Please, you make it all sound so self serving.”