People Are Frustrating and Vexing, but Solitude Brings a Strange Kind of Fun

  warmandfuzzy

I am not the poster child for things touchy-feely.  I loathe strange people touching me (even getting my hair cut is an adventure, though I endure it because I can’t cut my own hair with any degree of accuracy) and generally I’m not too thrilled about being groped by those I do know.  Unless they’re dogs, and that’s OK.  Why, I don’t know, but dogs are safe, at least for me.  Even when I was a little kid and was terrified of the world, from my sadistic oldest sister to unauthorized insect life, I had no problem climbing the fence and snuggling up to a 120# Rottweiler.

rottweiler

It’s not usually the big dogs you have to worry about.  Unless you’re up to mischief, that is.

The only dog I can remember having any kind of problem with was Andy the Chihuahua, but he was likely the product of many generations of inbreeding, and from the moment he was whelped he was certifiably messed up in the head.  He was my cousins’ dog, and even they couldn’t touch him.  It’s a good thing that pathetic little Andy, with his  high-pitched, constant and annoying yappy voice, severe underbite and thick cataracts,  (I think the wretched thing was born blind) didn’t live past the age of five. I’m surprised he lived as long as he did.   I think the only thing that saved him was that he was too evil for the cats to eat him.  He reminded me of a wind-up toy with an over-wound spring.  Such a toy will go like blue blazes- for a little while- then it just dies suddenly.  I think it was reported that poor Andy bit the big one mid-yap.  I don’t think he was very much missed.

psycho chihuahua

Andy the psycho Chihuahua is the exception, not the rule in the canine world.  Humanity is the exact opposite.

There is a sad irony that I feel safer with animals that technically are the same species as wolves (canis lupus familiaris is not far removed from canis lupus lupus after all) than I do with fellow humans.  But I do.

I’ve gathered from my own observations that “normal” people (begging the question, “Who defines ‘normal’?,” though I know I am most certainly anything but “normal”) generally have an easy time relating to other “normal” people.   While I’m usually looking for excuses to avoid excessive social interaction, as too much of playing that game wears me out, the “normals” blithely seek out more opportunities to be in each others’ faces.    I have to work at the communication game.  Really. Hard.  I have to consciously know which façade to pull out, and what (figurative) costume to wear for which occasion.

I have to pay attention to things that come instinctually to most, such as eye contact and body language and tone of voice. Otherwise, if I’m not paying attention, I just stare straight ahead and bellow out everything in a loud monotone.  I have acquired social skills- and over the years I’ve trained myself to practice them well- but that whole hoo-hah wears me down, just as the social dance energizes most people.

hermit

Sometimes I’d like to tell the whole world to bite me sideways and say screw it all, (and I would if I had the scratch to live as a recluse) but necessity dictates that I have to put up with other people and their shit.  Maybe it’s wrong or arrogant or selfish of me to see things that way, but that’s just the way it is.  That’s my reality-constant vigilance and constant anxiety, because I have to pay close attention to every word and every movement, at least when I am under others’ scrutiny.

Maybe that was where Shakespeare got the notion that all the world’s a stage.  Performing is hard work, and sometimes I just don’t wanna.

I don’t have to play the game with dogs- or even cats for that matter.   With them I can just be.

There are times I do enjoy the relational hoo-hah and find it a strange kind of fun, but it’s fun that I really only need in small doses, and even when I do enjoy it, it wears me out.  Right now I’m exhausted, and in a way I wish I could beg off human contact for a few months or so.

14corolla

What I really need is a nice, long solitary road trip.

I could use one of those trips where I leave, go somewhere randomly, do whatever, and then come back.  The last time I really did that was back in 1987, and I caught hell for it.  Of course, going 500 miles out with $150,  in a car that had no air conditioning, leaked oil horribly, had 4 balding (different sizes and treads) tires and a top speed of 45 MPH wasn’t a good idea and I wouldn’t dream of trying it today, especially without a phone, but those were different times.   Cell phones were expensive toys hard mounted in expensive cars back in 1987.  I was a young punk and wanted to do what I wanted to do, even if I didn’t have much scratch and my car was a very distressed, high mileage ’79 Subaru DL.   Today I would be afraid of being raped and robbed (well, in my case, probably just robbed and shot) if I would happen to get stranded.  Today I have plastic (though I am quite loath to use it) a modern car, a phone, GPS, roadside assistance and a (always loaded) .357 Magnum.

I’m not nearly as trusting as I used to be.

Jerry would have nine kinds of fits if I did something like that.  He would accuse me of being out trysting with some smoking hot young stud even though he (especially) should know I have the sex appeal of stale saltines and wet socks.    In reality he would miss subjecting me to his tirades, and would miss me fetching his food and beer.

Yes, a solitary road trip would be most delicious.  Even a day trip would be good.

Royals vs. Rednecks, Nuptial Nuttiness, and My View from the Ivory Tower (heh-heh)

There are important differences to note between the British Royal Family and American rednecks.  I shouldn’t bad mouth British royals too harshly, as I may be distantly related to them, which is kind of a scary thought.  I did get somewhat lucky though.  Despite having a lot of English ancestry, (there’s a good number of Scots in my pedigree too) somehow, out of all my family, without extreme surgical intervention, I have nice teeth.   The rest of them have been cursed with varying degrees of defective and horribly malformed dentition, and they get it honestly.   So I should be tactful, at least.  While British royals and American rednecks share a (somewhat) common language, and a certain degree of inbreeding, the similarities stop there. 

Usually, male British royals are fortunate enough to find women who are significantly smaller than feeder hogs.  The men are also significantly larger than Chihuahuas also, thus for the British royal couple as opposed to the American redneck couple, the sexual dimorphism  is exactly reversed.  British royal men are significantly larger than the women.   Unlike most mammals, redneck females tend to outsize their male counterparts by a ratio of three to one- as in a 300# woman will usually be found sporting a 100# man.  In some ways it’s kind of funny to watch. 

I had a (female) friend in high school who was 6’2″ and 320#.  Her boyfriend was probably 5’6″ and 110# soaking wet.  Both of them were uglier than sin to boot. She looked sort of like Hulk Hogan in drag.  He looked like a very freckled version of Raggedy Andy, complete with unruly, bright red hair.   She definitely wore the pants in that relationship.  I remember going to visit her one day and as I was getting out of my car, to my surprise, I saw her scrawny little bird of a man flying through the screen door, head first.  Apparently he had drank the last of her beer and smoked the last of her smokes (and she was a three pack a day smoker- Marlboro Menthols, smoked one after the other, down to the filters.  I did the same thing-only with Marlboro Reds, back then.)  She had requested him to go to the drive-thru to replenish her beer and smokes supply.  He said, “no,”  so she took him by the collar and the belt loops and tossed him out the (closed) screen door, whilst informing him (in a not very polite manner) that he will go get beer and smokes, and he’d better hop to. 

Thankfully the two of them never got married.  They shacked up for a couple of years, but he left when he found out that neither one of the twins were his.

Whenever the royals get married it is a Big Deal.  Since they are Britain’s answer to Hollywood, it sort of stands to reason.  Rednecks generally have little or no money and even when they do they spend it in horribly bad taste. This is why rednecks generally prefer to gawk at the Hollywood set.  It’s a lot more pleasant visual than looking in the mirror.   The royals, like Hollywood stars, have money, so it’s no big deal for them to put on a Big Show and to do it right, without a woman having to resort to buying her wedding gown on the discount rack at Wal Mart and putting the neighbor’s Shih-Tzu in a dress and making her the maid of honor because none of her friends can afford to be bridesmaids.  I’ve been railroaded into that mess– thanks to my sadistic oldest sister who doesn’t understand I’m poor- and I wouldn’t wish it on any woman, especially one who (like me) just happened to be going through a divorce at the time.  However, I’m sure that the bridesmaids in a royal wedding a.) don’t have to buy their own dresses, and b.) could easily afford it even if they did have to buy their own dresses. 

Redneck weddings, while tacky, are a lot more fun than the formal gatherings (like my sister’s wedding with the high faluting reception, the $7000 wedding gown- thank God she paid for that monstrosity- and the $300 bridesmaid dresses we had to somehow pay for) of the more civilized.  Where else would it be “normal” for the bride to be at least in the late second trimester of pregnancy, a Twinkie be considered a reasonable facsimile for wedding cake, a Rebel flag a suitable decoration, and Wal Mart $3.00 shower shoes deemed to be acceptable footwear?

The rifles on the cake are a nice touch too.

I have to admit that I am probably the last person to seek for advice on  “How to Have a Happy Marriage.”   I could offer advice on “How to Abide a High Maintenance Spouse Without Throttling Him or Going Insane,” but this is an ongoing endeavor that I’m still working on.  Anyone who thinks the whole marriage thing is easy apparently is not married to a man with the mental and emotional maturity of a toddler. 

I think it’s funny how much Americans get into the royal family business.   Perhaps it may go back to sharing a language, some common history, and for some people, common ancestry with the British.  It’s still funny to watch. 

There is a certain irony that in the US, our inbred minions are generally confined to West Virginia and other remote parts of Appalachia.  In the UK, they’re royalty. 

I probably won’t be watching the royal wedding tomorrow.  I stopped believing in fairy tales many years ago. 

I am glad that at least for my second wedding (the advantage of not informing Mom) we dispensed with the formalities and just went to the court house.  It was a lot less traumatic and a lot less expensive, and did not involve railroading any friends or family members into buying clothing they will never wear again,  paying for road trips they can’t afford, or thrusting anyone into an awkward and painful emotional situation.

I simply don’t get the whole Bridezilla mentality, especially today when a good number of marriages either end in divorce or the couple ends up being glorified roommates.  I see the reality of one year, five years, ten years later, and I just can’t get into the celebratory mood. 

At least funerals (while equally awkward and just as unpleasant to attend as a high brow wedding) have a finality to them.  Nobody really has to think too much about the deceased once the funeral is over.  They’re done with dealing with bullshit, and they’ve already made the decisions (for good or ill) that decide their place in eternity.  When you’re dead, you’re done.   Game over. Funerals are simply occasions to comfort the living.  Weddings are occasions to say to one’s self, “They have no idea what they’ve gotten themselves into,”  and to make a mental wager on how long the marriage will last.  The suffering has only just begun.

I got the snotty guy, but he didn’t come with any money.  Damn.

The Gravitas of a Popcorn Fart, Pit Bull Vindication, and the Tyranny of Stuff

 

I really had to do a bit of work on this pic to make it legible, but I couldn’t resist this old bumper sticker.  I saw this one  the other day displayed on an old, distressed Chevy “G” series van, and was fortunate enough to get a pic of it as I was stopped at one of the endless traffic lights on Morse Rd..   I don’t have any Pit Bulls (or Am Staffs, as many Pittie owners prefer to call them) but as a person who 1. loves dogs, and 2. owns protection breeds, I have to agree with this.  I’ve said it before, that the quality of a dog is heavily dependent on the quality of care and training it receives from its owner. 

Genetics and breeding do play into a dog’s basic temperament, and are essential factors when dealing with a particular dog.  I cannot realistically expect Clara (her predominant breed is Belgian Malinois) to obey commands given by anyone she doesn’t know.  Her inclination is to obey and protect her owner (me) and she will naturally be wary of others.  This is a personality trait of Malinois and most other protection breeds.  GSDs are notorious for being wary of strangers as well, which is a neutral trait in and of itself.  It’s good to have a dog that only obeys one person- at least in certain circumstances.  I can, however, expect Clara to be polite with people when she is properly introduced.  When Grandma was in the nursing home, Clara enjoyed going to the nursing home and visiting with people.  She was comfortable with this, and welcomed people’s attention, as long as I was with her, and she was in her harness.  Lilo is not a terribly social dog (typical of Chows.) She is obedient when she is in her harness as long as people and other dogs keep their distance.  Unlike Clara, Lilo does not allow “strangers” to pet her even when she is in her harness.  I understand that Clara and Lilo both have to establish relationships with people and with other dogs, which require careful introductions, before they will be social with them.  I do not force Lilo to be around children, and I don’t let them attempt to pet her, because she doesn’t like kids.  Since I understand that, it is my obligation to keep Lilo away from kids and out of situations in which she could potentially be dangerous.

Sheena, for all of her bad breeding (the poor girl’s mannerisms and dim-wittedness scream “inbreeding”) doesn’t know a stranger, human or canine.  Anyone can interact with Sheena and likely end up getting leaned on, flopped on and headbutted into loving on Sheena, because that’s how she rolls.  If she gets attention or food out of the deal, she’s your buddy for life, and she’s not picky.  This too can be a beautiful quality in a dog as long as you don’t expect that dog to defend you or your property.  Sheena’s not that bright, but it’s OK.  She looks intimidating.  The poor kids over in the drunk and domestic apartments across from the body shop think she’s a wolf.  They can think that, especially if it keeps them out of the body shop lot and out of our yard.  Clara is the one they really need to be aware of even though she doesn’t look anything like a wolf.  They don’t know that Sheena is as harmless as harmless gets- docile, dim-witted, and the poor girl wore down her canine teeth to little stubbies and her incisors completely to the gum from cage-biting, since the inbred fools who used to have her had no idea how to care for a dog, but I won’t get into depth on that subject.  It still pisses me off to think of it.  Just because they bred with their sisters didn’t mean it was a good idea to do the same thing with their dogs, but again, I really don’t want to get into that.

The bottom line is I don’t blame the dog when someone gets dog-bit.  There are two reasons why anyone would get dog-bit.  One is owner mistreatment or neglect of the dog.  People who intentionally mistreat dogs and try to make their dogs mean and turn them against people and other dogs fit into a category including child molesters and rapists and other despicable individuals.  The other is if you are stupid enough to come into a dog’s domain when you’ve been warned- either the dog itself warns you, (most dogs would rather not attack you- they will give you a warning) or you enter into an area that is the dog’s territory.  Go ahead, jump my fence, or break into my house, and if Clara and Lilo have your ass for lunch, guess whose fault that is?  My dogs are not vicious. They are duly restrained and kept from situations in which they could be dangerous- unless you make a conscious effort to place your butt in their mouths.

I understand that people have intentionally bred for the tendency toward dog-aggression in certain Pit Bull lines.  I will even agree knowing that many Pitties tend toward dog-aggression that they be kept as “only dogs” or that they be raised together from earliest puppyhood with other dogs to mitigate that tendency, at least with members of their own packs.   Ultimately how safe a particular dog is depends on how the owner deals with that dog.  Individual dogs are as different as individual people, even though you can expect certain broad behavioral tendencies within certain breeds.   Responsible owners will have safer dogs. 

I will not say that any dog is 100% safe any more than I will say any human is 100% safe.  There is no such thing as a “safe” creature that is armed with 42 razor sharp teeth that are designed to rip and tear flesh, and that is three times stronger than a human pound for pound of body weight.   If I had to wager though, the dog’s behavior is going to be more reliable and predictable than any given human.  We are a far more violent species.  One’s safety (and the safety of children in one’s care) is dependent upon common sense.  Canine body language is not hard at all to read, and there are some common-sense rules to observe when dealing with any dog.

I love this pic, even though it is only a yawn.  There’s no aggression being shown here at all even though it could be taken that way out of context.  Clara has always had lovely teeth.  She is not an inherently aggressive dog, but she will protect me and she will defend her territory.  That’s what I expect her to do.  We do not use physical punishment to train our dogs- just a simple system of redirection, rewards and simply living with and building relationships with them.  They get a lot of activity and affection.

I know my opinion generally has all the gravitas of a popcorn fart- a lot of hot air and easily missed- but for what it’s worth I simply can’t stand it when people condemn any particular dog breed.  What they’re really saying is that they are too stupid and/or lazy to learn how to deal with dogs, and to have a healthy respect for what dogs are capable of. 

I’ve never been what anyone would call a clothes horse- for the most part I follow the “Three C’s” of clothing acquisition.  Is it Cheap?- not as in poor quality, but as in low price?  Thrift stores and garage sales rule for this very reason.  I don’t like to spend a lot of money on clothes.  Is it Comfortable?  If it itches, if it’s too tight, forget about it.  I’m too old to sacrifice comfort for vanity.  Does it Cover the essentials?  At my age, nobody really wants to see much skin.  As a courtesy to the rest of humanity, I try to make very sure that the essentials are covered.

Shoes are a whole different ball game.  I love shoes.  I wear an easy to fit size (unlike clothes, where the tops have to be one or two sizes bigger than the bottoms.) 99 times out of 100 if I order a 7B  shoe, it will fit.  I do have a high instep, so I have to be aware of that when I mail order shoes (I have to avoid certain boots and certain over the top of the foot styles) but for the most part it’s a wide open vista of foot fashions for me.  I must have over a 100 pairs of shoes and I freely admit it (most of them bought on clearance, but still.)   It is my vice.  At least they’re cheaper than cigarettes, won’t kill me, and are a damned sight more practical.  Never come between a cougar and her shoes!