Sunday, November 25, 2018

Holiday letter (second draft)

Dear friends and family,

This year finds us surviving as best we can very well after the semi truck ran straight through our living room window causing grandma to wet herself and wet little Timmy too winning the lottery. Grandma survived her embarrassment is over the moon. Little Timmy is probably scarred for life can't wait to try out the new Xbox. We had no insurance, so we have begun calling the huge hole in the house "the new doggie door" inkling we would ever be so lucky. When Martin got home, he like to die from shock bought that lottery ticket, it was just as a lark. 

Who knew how much pain joy one family could endure enjoy in a single year? After that freak tornado took Cousin Moe job promotion Buster got at the shoe store, we thought things could not get worse better this year. I guess the Fates are totally out to get us looking out for us. How else do you explain Franny's getting held hostage for 12 hours at the grocery store instant success selling handmade insects online? We feel it must be due to somebody with a grudge and a whole handful of voodoo dolls divine intervention, or maybe karmic payback for that time Jane flipped off that blind panhandler saved that puppy. 

Martin says his job at the tallow factory software firm continues to be "like getting a preview of Hell something out of a holiday movie." Cousin Moe is still enjoying his extended dirt nap trip to India to find himself. We don't know what county he was blow to how long he will be gone, but we trust he will never need his tractor again be in touch when he gets a chance. 

Timmy has developed a nervous tic because of getting peed on by a relative a real talent for whittling, and we think he will probably end up hurting somebody some day winning some contests. I continue to work part time in Barty's Bait Shop & Diner pet rescue, and find fulfillment in just being able to still fit in my shoes give back to the community which has ostracized us ever since Moe abducted that letter carrier given us so much. 

Grandma is still ornery as the bull that gored her in '74 full of life and keeping busy blasting crows off the lawn with a BB rifle she traded a guy some pot for making brownies. We all have ringworm (long story) our health and we wish you would stop telling the Feds about our Ponzi schemes as much joy as the season can provide. Next time you are in California, don't you dare show your face and still hope to live hesitate to stop by and set a spell. 

Happy in spite of your restraining order Holidays,

Name redacted pending bail

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Walkaway Non-sequitur

I was at the supermarket today, crouching down, looking at the "honey butter" crescent rolls. Four days before Thanksgiving, the regular rolls were blown out. There were plenty of "Hawaiian" ones, and "big and buttery" ones, and "big and flaky" ones and "butter flake" ones. I suspect those are all the same dough in different canisters, but I am suspicious by nature when it comes to things that rise. 

A lady crouched down next to me. "If you're looking for more of the regular," she said, "they're over there. What are those?"

"The honey butter," I said. 

She stood and walked away, saying jovially, "Oh no, I can't put those on my rattlesnake bites."

Now, I realize I should have run after her and asked her to elaborate, but part of me was afraid. I figured she was either a Pentecostal snake-handler or, worse, just a snake-handler. She appeared normal, but you never know with grocery shoppers. Especially outside the organic department. 

She said it so casually, as if one always throws out snakebite remedies to total strangers who aren't snakebit. Honey butter crescent dough for a rattler? Are you trying to get me killed? 

I learned what a poultice was by reading "Clan of the Cave Bear." A poultice was apparently great for applying to an open wound 30,000 years ago. Here is a typical exchange on the topic, paraphrased from my memory of reading it in the 1980s:

Ayla: (using crude sign language) Let me treat wound, Creb. 

Creb: What wound? I fine.

Ayla: Your arm, flayed by giant cat. I fix.

Creb: That not wound. That ketchup.

Ayla: Ketchup not invent yet. That blood.

Creb: I invent ketchup two moons past. 

Ayla: I put poultice on ketchup then.

Creb: Mmmm. That good. That Pillsbury crescent dough? Good on ketchup.

Ayla: Yes. Honey butter.

Creb (recoiling) Honey butter?! You try to kill Creb?!

I gave the lady nothing. No nod. No "Ahhhh." No affirmation that her knowledge of yeast-based snakebite remedies was at all unusual, or appreciated. I played it off as completely ordinary, so now I picture her at home with her husband:

Lady: I did the snakebite schtick at Vons and the guy didn't even look at me weird. 

Man: No dirty look? No disgust? He didn't even back away slowly?

Lady: Nothing. He just read the calorie info on the honey butter rolls, cool as you please.

Man: Next time, finish with a crazed cackle. 

Lady: Yes! A cackle. That's what it needed. 

Man: And a leer. Then you're golden.

Lady: People are getting harder to freak. I blame the president.

Man: Did you get the rolls?

Lady: Ohhhh. I totally forgot.

I will never know if she was crazy or just a fan of the walkaway non sequitur. If it's the latter, she has my admiration. A lot can go wrong there. You may get followed. Yelled at. Insulted. The timing has to be just right; the delivery, the nonchalant turn, the exit. Yes, I admire it. 

I found the regular rolls around the corner, just where she had pointed. She may have been nuts, but she saved me a trip to another store, another gallon of gas, saved the environment a little bit, saved me from having to write about my dumb dog again. And that's not nothing. 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Charles, the legend

As I wrote previously, we inherited a little dog from my wife's aunt when she passed away in June. Charles is, best we can tell, a chihuahua/deer mix. His alertness suggests deer, but I admit that most deer, even fawns, are taller than 10 inches at the shoulder. He has a very deerlike quality, though, in coloring and in skittishness. I wonder if deer also love bananas. 

Four months ago Charles would not abide anyone but my wife. My son and I were automatically suspect. I gradually won him over, so that now he does this coy sidling-up, you-can-pet-me-now-dude move. He comes close, then turns his back to me and looks over his shoulder like Clara Bow in a silent film. I'm ready for your adoration, Mr. DeMille.

He still nips at my son, barks at him whenever he comes in sight. Even the sound of my son's bedroom door opening evokes a volley of vitriol, until he sees it is me coming through. He seems to want to have a dog in the house lower in status than himself, so he has made Ben that dog. Charles himself thinks nothing of taking over our other dog Skipper's bed, the bed he has enjoyed for a decade. Skipper will approach as if to say hey, my bed. Charles will snarl as if to say "fake news." 

Confidence is everything.

In dog years, Charles is probably 80, and he has a cough now, a deafening hack, as if a cat with a hairball has somehow gotten ahold of a megaphone. It seems to be triggered by stress, or a change in the dynamics of a room, good or bad. My wife (Mama) comes home, and it's time for several minutes of is-Charles-dying? Ben heads to the kitchen for ice cream, and it's time for a tiny, furry command performance of "Camille." A vet said he has an enlarged heart, but Charles is fine until somebody gets up from a chair, or the mailman comes. I'm calling BS. 

I think he has Napoleon Complex. We will leave for a walk, go half a block and then Charles sets his heels. The stiff defiance of his front legs brings to mind Max, the dog in the Grinch story, balking at the top of a sheer snowy cliff. He has no idea I could effortlessly juggle him. To Charles, he is masculinity itself; dominant, eternal, unquestionable. It is hilarious. 

I only wish he could be momentarily human, with a human's self-awareness, so we could laugh together over a beer at his comically extreme obsession with squirrels. No sports fan alive has had his level of passion. But my wish cannot be. As I write this, he is unselfconsciously chewing on his own foot. Now he has shaken out his ears, with a soft flapping sound, so that they are, I guess, at their full length and functionality. 

There are critters to hear. And mailmen. And kids on skateboards. Vigilance is key. If you ever doubt this, just ask Bambi's mom. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

This week's a Patreon week

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