Thursday, November 06, 2008

34 stories for my 34th birthday, installment 6

22. I remain deeply cynical about political solutions in general and about Barack Obama in particular. Earlier this year, I was completely sold on Obama. But that has been going away and going away. The level of narcissism it surely takes to run for and win the presidency of the United States is almost frightening. I'm disgusted with the American ludicrously pro-Israel (and by implication hate-Palestinians) take on the whole thing, and the way Obama has at best totally sold out to it. Beyond that, it's just not in my nature to believe to much in anything, or to see anything in black and white terms. But this deserves it own post, and I'll do that sometime in the next few days.

23. My memories of preschool are these: My dad would drive me to preschool in the morning. We'd stop at a donut shop and get two donuts and coffee and milk. This is a ritual my dad had from before I was born, and which he still keeps to some extent--getting up in the morning well before whatever it is you actually have to get up for, and going somewhere to drink coffee and talk or think or read or what have you. We'd sit in the donut shop and consume the food and drink, and then off to preschool. My pre-school teacher was Miss Kathy. We tended to have canned fruit in a bowl as part of our lunches at that preschool. We took a nap in the middle of the day, on a mat reserved for that purpose. Each of us got one mat. You didn't have to sleep, but you did have to lie quietly. Twice a week we had gym, which I rather liked. I suspect someone was helping us learn to read and write, but I don't remember such. I remember there was a pretty young secretary in the lobby of the preschool. When I was 5, I'd walk over every day from pre-school to Kindergarten. I think an adult walked me over. It was a Catholic preschool, and we learned this little prayer:

God is great, God is good.
Let us thank him for our food.
Dear Jesus, Thank you for our food.

We'd say this little prayer every day before lunch, and at some point I introduced it before dinner at home. My parents acquiesed to this, but I'm guessing they didn't feel super comfortable with it. Now, when I write it, in my head I can't help but mockingly force "food" to rhyme with "good", which makes me chuckle every time I think it.

24. I've known several dogs well over the years. My story about dogs goes like this. The first is Chuka ("CHUCK uh"), whom I meant at perhaps the age of 5. I think Chuka was a mongrel. I loved her, and she loved me, which seems the proper way for kids and dogs. She had puppies in our den (the same den where my parents liquor cabinet was, before they were teetotallers). She started having the first one in the hallway, which freaked me out. She quickly moved to her bed in the den. I remember the puppies were in their placental sacks, and thinking how wierd they looked, and then Chuka ate up the placental sacks (yum!), and magically, there were several little adorable puppies. Chuka actually belonged to my cousin Kelli, two years my senior, but I guess her mom, my Aunt Carol, was in some kind of tough transition and so we ended up looking after her. Unfortunately, after we'd had her a while, she got out one day and started chasing a car and got run over and died.

25. The next dog after that was a Cocker Spaniel named Oscar when I was 11. We kind of inherited him because his owner, another military family, had to move back to the States and couldn't or wouldn't take him. Oscar was fun, but he had the highly embarrassing habit of "humping" people's legs. I don't understand why I feel compelled to put the word "humping" in quotes.

26. The last dog I ever considered "mine" was a huge-pain-in-the-ass Shih Tzu named Scruffy. My parents didn't like us to say "shit", so we had to pronounce Scruffy's breed name "SHEET soo", which my sister and I found my highly amusing and incredibly obnoxious at the same time. Scruffy liked to pee on our hallway carpet. Over the years that we owned him, he peed on it so much that when we left that house and sold it, we had to tear up the carpet and sand about 3/4 of an inch off the hardwood underneath. That was some seriously smelly sawdust. Wow. Scruffy also had skin problems, which are endemic to the breed, and he would scratch himself until he bled. So sometimes he had to wear a ridiculous and obnoxious white plastic cone thing around his neck and head so that he could not use his teeth to scratch any part of his body. I think we were partially relieved when one day a completely intoxicated and weeping woman pulled up in her enormous 1970's style car to say she had run him over and killed him and she was so sorry. She had his body in the trunk. I guess, looking back, she was frightened, as well, that we'd call the cops over her drunk driving. But we didn't. We just buried Scruffy in the back yard, and that was that.

27. Wow, I have a lot of dog stories. When I was 6 years old, there was a little black boy who lived down the street. I don't remember his name, although I think I knew it then. I'm guessing it was semi-tough to be black in Wichita Kansas. Anyway, he had a German Shepherd that looked really scary to me, which hung out in their back yard. There was a sign on the gate into the back yard which said "Beware of dog", and I was! This kid always tried to convince me to go in the back yard, that the dog was safe, etc. but I never would. Then one day, the dog wasn't back there. He told me it was locked in the basement. So I acquiesed to go in his back yard. Almost immediately that dog bounded out of the basement and attacked me. It bit me 17 times. Not that I was counting, but this is what I was told later. That kid's big sister carried me home and delivered me to my parents, and my dad put me in the car seat and took me to the ER. I remember him putting the seat down so I could lie instead of sit. I remember being really scared and in a lot of pain. At the ER they gave me a rabies shot in my butt cheek, which I remember thinking was kind of kewl.

Ever after that, I've never been frightened of dogs. If a dog seems to me to have a threatening posture, my immediate reaction is to be doubly threatening back. Of course I'm a lot bigger now. But I'll go up to strange dogs to say "hi", and hold out my hand and stuff for them to sniff, when other people are a bit afraid. Wierd, huh?


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