Category: Gallimaufry

Happy Birthday, Mom

Photo on 2015-05-27 at 12.29 #2It’s three AM and I’ve been writing. I’m tired and ready for bed, but before I lay down, I check. She lies awake.

She can’t sleep the night through. Awake, alone in the dark, I don’t know how long she’s lain like this. I give her water and kiss her head.

She sips a drink to wet her lips, not interested in swallowing. Her legs are crossed, her hand clutches the rail, and she is sideways in the bed. She’s been writhing. It’s another rough night.

I straighten her out, stretch her leg and feel the tightness. A Charlie-horse is in her thigh that never goes away. I try to imagine what that is like.

I put ice in her water and raise her head to let her drink through a straw. I know she likes the cold water. No one gives her ice anymore.

She drinks the whole glass, and whispers, “That’s good.” Then rests her head.

That’s all she’ll say, I don’t expect more. Her brain was split apart by stroke, half of it dead more than a decade now. The stroke shut her mouth.

She’ll have lucid times on a good day, if she’s stimulated. She rattled-off five short sentences one afternoon, totally coherent communication, but that happens less often. Most days, there isn’t much stimulation.

We get her up at nine for the bathroom. Then at noon for coffee and cookies – that’s her favorite. Oatmeal and banana for breakfast, sitting in the wheelchair. Mid-afternoon we move her to the Big Chair, where she naps until five. Then it’s coffee and cookies again before dinner and to bed about eight. That’s her day.

Except for the meals and the transfers, she sits like a piece of furniture, barely animated, barely awake, as we go about our business. The room is calm and quiet, with the TV usually on a station the health care worker watches.

The lovely woman who helps care for Mom will not be here today, so I’ll do these things, plus take her to the bathroom, clean her ass, wipe the piss off the floor, dress her in a clean gown and scrub my hands before serving her cookies.

If she can’t get back to sleep, I’ll have to get her up to the bathroom and then the Big Chair. This gets her leg bending so it eases the muscle and she can sleep. The Big Chair reclines.

The prospect of this at three in the morning angers me. I’m running on ass-dragging empty. I want to lie down and catch a few precious hours of sleep before this routine begins. Right now, I don’t want to lift sacks of potatoes and wipe piss off the floor.

She won’t sleep. She looks at me and pulls crab-like on the rail, pulling her body sideways in the bed. I slide her back in place. I’m not patient about it and she slaps my arm as I push – a strong backhand.

I toss covers off her leg and she says, “Covers!”

“In a minute Mom. I’m going to stretch your legs.” I do the right first, bending her knee and growl at her, “Push…push your leg out, Mom.” She makes an effort and I can feel the muscle begin to ease-up. It never fully relaxes anymore.

Her hand scratches for the sheets to pull them over her bare legs. This, believe it or not, is because she’s modest about her yoo-hoo. She shouldn’t worry. I ain’t lookin’.

I do the left. She doesn’t push with the left. That’s the dead one, where the muscles are drawn into rigor. My tone with her is harsh. “Is it easy now?” I want her to tell me it’s okay, so I can go to bed. She can respond when she’s alert, like now. I’m gruff because she won’t.

She looks at me, her eyes brighter than usual at this time. She’s fully alert. I pull the rocking chair close and sit by her. I raise the bed so she sits upright. That stretches her hip and legs and I get more ice water for her.

She’s happy I’m there. She doesn’t want to be alone. I want to go to bed.

“You know, we can’t do this forever, Mom.”

I am the youngest of five sons. When she had the stroke, it was our decision to keep her at home. My brothers, the best heeled of the bunch, took the financial burden on themselves for Mom’s care, and we all take turns on “Mom duty.” There was never a question of putting her in a home. She had a home.

“You’re like a cockroach, you know that?” I say. Her body won’t quit. She grew-up barefoot in Arkansas while World War One raged in Europe. She’ll be one hundred and one on her birthday. By cosmic coincidence, I was born on her birthday. We share that.

She learned to type and moved on her own to live and work in Dallas. That’s where my Dad met the pretty, sweet, but independent young woman.

They came west in the years of Depression, and raised chickens and five boys. Dad passed away. The boys retired, except for me. I’m just out of work.

The oldest son can’t come to see Mom anymore. Cancer has him. It may be Mom outlives him. I don’t want to see that.

Mom’s health is faltering. She can’t exercise anymore. But she slides down the slippery slope very slowly. Jim’s catching up fast. Not that I want the race to end, I just don’t want him to win.

I give her more water. “I’ll lay you back down,” I say. “See if you can sleep.” She closes her eyes as I lay the bed low. I leave to brush my teeth. Out of the room, I scream, “For fucks sake God, take her away! Why leave her hurting like this?”

I’m not expecting a response from him either. The worthless fuck.

I check one more time. Her eyes are closed. She’s pretending. I sit by her side. “You’re not sleeping,” I say. Her eyes open, still bright. She knows I want to leave.

I know she doesn’t want me to leave. She doesn’t like to lay by herself in the dark…hurting. She doesn’t want me to be mad though.

I lean close to her. She turns her head. She is embarrassed and does not want to breathe on me. She knows her breath is awful.

I don’t care. “Mom,” I say. “This is crazy. You need to let go. This isn’t good for anybody.”

Her eyes are bright and she reaches out to me. I feel her soft, warm hand on my ear. She sticks her finger in.

Tears well from somewhere I haven’t been in a very long time – a little boy with his mother pinching his ear.

I bow my head and cry. She pinches me again, still looking at me. Still caressing my ear.

I’m in a place I never want to leave.

I look at her. I don’t see her mouth hanging open. I don’t see her drooling. I see my Mother, who taught me to listen, to cook and to love. I remember now. I love her. I love her so much that it hurts.

I say, “Let’s get you up to the Big Chair, Mom.” She smiles her crooked smile and I know that’s the thing that she needs. As gently as I can, as patient as I can, with all the love I can, I do all the things that entails. I have no more anger. I’m with her. I want her as long as I live.

A.D. Hall 6.28.15

Writer’s Cramp

THIS NOVEL OF MINE

I look for a novel

Idea to find

Deep in my heart

And deep in my mind

*

A character appears

A new story-line

I spew forth his tale

I know it’s not mine

*

I’m a medium of sorts

A conjurer of words

That tells you his story

This novel of mine

*

Where do we go

I’ll take you he said

A journey to nowhere

With this man in my head

*

I’m losing my grip

My plot is not sound

How will I end this

What twist can be found

*

Just follow the voice

The man in my head

Then trip him and flip him

Don’t let him be fed

*

He’ll find a way out

Or else he’ll be dead

It’s his job to find it

It’s my job it’s said

*

So bleed on the keyboard

Put it all down

I’ll fix it later

This first draft of mine

*

His story’s complete

The story I wrote

So I relax and enjoy

This moment of note

*

Because now I must read

That first draft I wrote

And I will not like it

It’s full of word bloat

*

So I must turn

From killing my man

To killing my prose

Of the weak and the canned

*

I’m a slayer of adverbs

And the passive voice

To make it read lively

But not like James Joyce

*

It’s a helluva task

To remove what I wrote

Like throwing away

A favorite old coat

*

But I read it again

And I certainly note

It reads much better

Without the old bloat

*

But something is wrong

This new draft of mine

It lacks something special

It lacks flow and rhyme

*

So I re-write again

It’s a bloody damn crime

To read it once more

For the sixty-sixth time
*

I’m ready almost

To let it be read

From cover to cover

By eyes that aren’t mine

*

My God! What they say

Is it really that bad

No one will read this

I feel really sad

*

I pull it together

And get kind of mad

It’s time to re-write it

This novel of mine

*

But where is the voice

The man in my head

I need him to tell me

What else to be said

*

I drink and I smoke

And sink in my head

Looking to find

This novel of mine

*

The dog needs a walk

And garbage trucks grind

The gears in my head

Have rusted I find

*

The muse has escaped me

And the man in my head

Refuses to help me

I wish I were dead

*

What possessed me to write this

I may never know

But polish I must

To make the thing glow

*

He visits again

A night when it’s late

And no one’s around

So I finish his fate

*

And finished at last

No typo is left

It has  ISBN

And its cover’s a blast

*

Let luck take it somewhere

I hope it is read

By people who like it

My novel ain’t bad

***

Copyright 2015 by Andrew Hall

What the hell…now I’m writing poetry?

Where is this coming from?

Ginger’s Choice – Selected Reading From ‘Lapse Of Reason’

The Editor has selected the following section from ‘Lapse of Reason’ for you to sample. She thinks this is clean enough not to offend anyone. This is from Chapter 9 – Vulcan Breakfast. You may also sample the first three chapters at my Smashwords book page: Smashwords.

cropped-dads-blog.jpg

A fresh breeze carried the smell of rain, and caught Sidney’s hair as she climbed out of the Cadillac CTS in front of Ian’s house. She held a straw fedora on her head and saw flashes in the clouds, accompanied by distant rumbles. “Great traveling weather, Leah, at least it will be in your car.”

He locked the front door and carried his duffel bag to the street, as wind whipped leaves and billowed dust across the yard. “Nice car!”

“Will you drive?” Leah asked.

“I’d love to.” He took the keys and she went to the front passenger side. Sidney got in the back seat.

“This weather will make the trip interesting,” he said. “I hope there’s a big rain.”

“Ian,” said Sidney. “Look to the south.”

Bank upon bank of storm cells lined the southern horizon, leaving a blue-black hollow beneath. “That’s where we’re heading,” he said. “It’s not too late to take the bikes.”

“Yeah right,” Sidney said. “This Caddy will do just fine.” She snuggled into the soft leather backseat.

They traveled west a long distance before turning south to the border. It seemed they might get in front of the storm, but the thunderheads kept pace with their westward movement, and when they reached the turn south, the road led into the heart of the dark chasm beneath. Sidney watched hanging shreds of cloud clot together in a rotating mass ahead of them. Rain pelted the roof so hard they had to yell to be heard. As they lost daylight in the storm, the headlights bounced off a sheet of rain that fell like a screen. Ian slowed but kept going. For the first time, he noticed someone was behind – lights in his mirror. He sped up to stay ahead.

Lightning burst, illuminating the heavy underside of clouds hanging low over the flat, desert plain. Sidney saw crazy twisted shapes silhouetted in the flash – organ pipe cactus looked like alien soldiers – upside-down squids on a battlefield. Thunderous cracks came the moment after a flash, booming right on top of them. She huddled into her seat; while Ian leaned forward, better to see through the rain. Wind whipped the car from side-to-side.

The maelstrom continued for twenty minutes before the sky opened-up. Back-lit by the moon, everything below was cast in black and white, strobing to the pulse of lightning from the storm behind. “No worries,” Ian said, “we made it through safe. Now the air is cool and moist and smells fresh. I’m rolling down my window.”

Sidney saw they were approaching a bridge over a sandy wash. At first she didn’t recognize what she saw. There shouldn’t be anything moving in the wash, but there was. She saw a brown wall of mud rolling at them.

She screamed as Ian drove casually onto the bridge, unaware it was about to be slammed by a raging wave of water. They were halfway across when it hit. A standing wave rose like a wall inches from the car, slapping the elbow Ian hung out the window – it was that close. The impact rattled the bridge, almost bouncing them into the torrent. “Oh, my God!” Leah cried.

Sidney watched a tree surge forward, its broken trunk aimed at her. Ian took the only course of action available: he gunned the car across the remainder of bridge. Water washed in a rising tide over the road, but the Cadillac’s momentum carried it forward. Sidney felt the car float, and then the tires grabbed enough traction when they hit the curb to stop its sideways travel – she felt the car jerk with the impact. They reached the other side just as the tree smashed the bridge, sending a thud through the earth that shook the car.

“I think the bridge just broke,” Sidney said.

They drove in silence for a moment, hearts pounding, stunned by the freakish flood and how close it came to sweeping them away. Ian finally spoke up; “Holy shit! We are so fucking lucky!” he said. He pounded the steering wheel for emphasis. “If we crossed that bridge a split second later we’d be dead. I saw a car behind us. I’m going back to warn them.”

“I didn’t see any car,” said Sidney. “I was looking around the whole time, nobody is behind us.”

He spun tires on the shoulder making a U-turn. At the bridge, they got out of the car and stood at the threshold, watching foam and brown water cascade through a chasm where the road used to be. He couldn’t see anything approaching the far side – he was sure he’d seen them – maybe they turned around. “There wasn’t anybody there,” said Sidney.

Over the roar of the flood, he heard laughter. At least he thought he did, it was impossible to tell with the torrent pounding only feet away, but it sounded like a deep booming laugh from somewhere in the dark. He never saw the lights again.

A half an hour later, driving under clear skies and a brilliant moon, their adrenaline had ebbed and the incident was a thing of the past. He asked, “Leah, why do you want to do this Ayahuasca thing? I mean, if it’s for clinical studies, why do you need to take it?

“So I know its effects. How can I relate to the effects in patients if I haven’t experienced them myself? Of course, I can’t tell anyone. Beside the two of you, no one else knows. I can try it in Mexico, and it stays in Mexico. Besides that, we can have a great time.”

“Well, I’m just wondering,” Ian kept probing. “I mean doctors don’t give themselves chemo-therapy to test those drugs, do they? Did you try electroshock before giving it to patients? I don’t see why you need to take Ayahuasca.”

“This is a psychoactive drug, and I’m studying its effect on the brain – on consciousness,” she said. “It’s different than the physical treatments you’re talking about – these drugs have an effect on perceptions and that can’t be measured with an instrument – I have to experience it to understand it.”

Sidney stuck her head between the front seats, “Ian, are you afraid to take Ayahuasca again? I thought you had a mellow trip, talked to a snake, got really horny afterward. What’s wrong?”

 “I don’t know. For one thing, you’re risking your career, Leah,” he said.

“If we all keep our mouths shut it won’t be a problem,” she said. Her voice had an edge they’d never heard before.

“We won’t say a word, will we,” Sidney nudged Ian’s shoulder.

#

The moon was halfway across the sky by the time they pulled onto the dirt road leading to the Ranch. Ricky never referred to it any other way – just the ‘Ranch’. They stopped at the fence and Sidney hopped out to open the gate. The drive wound through a hundred yards of overgrown cactus before the headlights lit a bare tin-sheeted house. Ricky appeared in the headlights and waved them to stop in front.

“Hello, my friends!” Ricky called. He stood in the lights wearing a red jumpsuit. “Nice car.”

“Nice jump suit,” Ian said, and introduced Leah and Sidney. “Ladies, meet Ricky.”

Ricky herded them into the house. Ian could see it was a hodgepodge of buildings molded together in an amiable sort of structural chaos. Adobe walls surrounded a courtyard with apartments in back. The front house was tin and wood frame, with a large kitchen and veranda connecting the buildings. They were led to a spacious den paneled in knotty pine, where cool air blew from an evaporative cooler humming on the roof. It had a homey, cabin-like comfort that put Ian at ease.

“You can crash in here,” Ricky said. “There are couches and blankets and pillows all around. Make yourselves comfortable. You can meet the old lady and everyone at breakfast. Tomorrow night, I’ll have a better place. She told me there was a big storm and you guys weren’t coming, so I didn’t expect you tonight. Usually, she’s right about such things.”

“Who’s ‘the old lady’ you’re talking about, Ricky?” Ian asked.

“Kay – she owns the Ranch. She’s gone to bed. You’ll meet her in the morning.”

“Okay, well we’ll just crash then. By the way, we did have a big storm hit us on the way. A flash flood almost killed us.” Ian said, as he walked Ricky to the door.

Ricky shook his head, “She’s usually right about things like that. Maybe, it was supposed to stop you from getting here.”

#

A New Project

Ginger and I are writing a new book. We mentioned in the first blog that we’d keep you abreast of new works, so we want to talk about that now. In the weeks to come, Ginger said she would clean up a chapter or two of draft, and share it with you.

8938852b-37b5-4bbd-a346-5b1733bde1c2_zpsas6zce5j

Before we do that, let’s just talk about another thing. Truth, because that’s the point for this book. I think it’s only fair I tell you what I’m up to. And that’s truth, because every great writer says you have to write the truth – or write truly (and drunk) if you’re Hemingway. So I wrote a novel, just like all the greats, and you know what? I made the whole thing up. Entirely fiction. That’s what novels are, duh – not a shred of truth in it.

Then I realized there must be deeper truths. Properly done, the novel is an artful expression of the human condition in some way – however odd that might seem. Well, I didn’t do that – that’s some heavy lifting for a writer, let me tell you. By the time you have a story, bleed it out, and figure an ending to the damn thing, you have to re-write so it’s readable. When you’ve edited it to a readable manuscript, it reads like molten lead – fluid, but devoid of color and boring as hell. So you have to re-write all the juice into it. By this time your so sick of it, the thought of proof-reading causes panic attacks, because you know you’ll keep finding things to fix, and this cannot be avoided, so it’s procrastinated instead.

IMG_1431This is before anyone else has laid eyes on it, mind you. Later, an editor snarls and makes you feed her cheese and re-write everything again. So it’s hard enough just making an entertaining read without having to weave in some artful, meaningful message redeeming you from the heap of crap you just wrote. Besides, I don’t want redeeming, I want redeemable, preferably in cash. I became a writer so I wouldn’t have to crawl out of my bathrobe before noon to scratch a living at the brickyard.

So all this heavy lifting as a writer seems a stretch too far. I’m opting for a simpler method of truth in this next book. I’m going to tell true stories to practice truth in writing, rather than attempt the brain twisting to come up with a truthful metaphor.

I’ve always wanted to write a travel book. I’ve read many, it’s a favorite type of book; true stories of adventure, drama and mishap in exotic places. My dear friend, Jim, is a travel writer, and I’m jealous. So naturally that is something I’ve thought about since I made the leap to writing. But therein lies the problem. I’m a writer, so I’m broke and have no money to travel. Catch 22 for anyone would-be travel writer who isn’t already well heeled.

IMG_1239Then a solution occurred to me. By the very fact I became a writer at a mature age, I haven’t spent an entire life chained to a keyboard. I actually have a great deal of travel experience already packed away that I can dust off and string together.

Ginger is looking at me like I’m crazy. She’s never seen me gone more than an hour and thinks that’s way too long. Her time between snacks is shorter than that. But she’s only three years old, and doesn’t realize I had a life before her.

I first titled it “The Art of Travel.” I thought that sounded presumptuous and not very literary, especially for a collection of stories that won’t describe anything like an artistic experience. Most stories are about events that were abject misery at the time. It came to me because the art in travel isn’t in the action itself. The art is in the telling. The story is what matters. The event is history.

I changed the title after that, but the sentiment still stands. Which brings me back to truth. And dare I say it…I‘ve been avoiding the other thing…embellishment. There, truth versus embellishment. You will find both in this book. That’s the real point I have to make now, before I can even write it.

It works like this. I write the true story and add a bunch of embellishment that makes the story read nice and have the right drama, or humor, or whatever. But I stay true to the story. You, dear reader won’t ever know the truth from the embellishment. But that doesn’t matter. You’re still getting the true story in the most entertaining way I can deliver. If this obscures facts a bit, so be it. Guilty parties should appreciate that, and the reader should appreciate the fact, without such obscurity, many of these stories wouldn’t be told. It’s still the truth.

This book will be a collage, a collection…an assembly of stories. They are not all my stories, but some are. Dear, anonymous friends and family have related some to me. However, I will write them in the first person, as if they are my stories for the sake of literary expression. Why bother the reader with shifting voice and points of view, when is it of no consequence to the story who it really happened to. It is the fact they are true and interesting stories, hopefully funny, that the reader cares about. If I’m wrong, you’ll tell me.

I’ll change names, of course, and stay vague on dates, precise locations, and I’ll attribute some of my more embarrassing actions to others – to help me objectively tell the tale. By the same reasoning, I’ll take credit for the more admirable actions of others. This artifice of literature will not be brought up again. I just want to preempt litigation.

Travel, in this book means whatever I choose to write about that I can somehow link to a travel situation. It may include IMG_1247stories of travel by car, motorcycle, plane, train, or by foot. I don’t know since I haven’t written anything yet, although I have decided to stay away from the wilderness trekking and backpacking stories. They certainly belong in a travel book of mine, but are of a character and setting that is quite special and I think should be set apart. Therefore, I’ll stick to urban hikes that only occurred subset within a larger travel dimension. I set these parameters out now, lest you to be fooled into thinking we’re actually going somewhere. We may amble, in the fashion of travel at it’s best, not knowing the scene around the bend.

Ginger’s Post

IMG_1747[1]Welcome to Ginger’s Post. Actually, I write and she edits – she has final say. Therefore, this writing space is named for her. Ginger, as you may already suspect, is a dog. She sits in my lap streaming editorial comments as I write. Most of her comments pertain to cheese, and I must fight her on this constantly. I tell her we will write about cheese another time. She does not seem to care. She wants me to stop writing and give her cheese…okay!

This is Ginger’s entrée into the world of social media. I’m sure someone will be quick to say: dog blogging is so pre-millennial. Is it obsolete? Should we twitter? Ginger doesn’t know. She’s looking at me with watery, Spanish drama queen eyes. Is it because of my uncertainty, or does she want more cheese? Never mind…I know the answer.

This first article is hers because the editor-in-chief insisted – of course. She has something to get off her chest about dog intelligence. She believes people misunderstand. People will argue her point, but it’s not an argument people can win, because people can’t argue about dogs with a dog. She knows that, which gives you some idea of how smart she is.

Ginger says the problem is that people look at dogs through people eyes. She wants you to see the dogs’ perspective. Before we dive in to that, however, a little about Ginger. Ginger is a mutt – part Chihuahua, and the rest is anyone’s guess. Whatever she is, it’s a strange combination. But it has created the most intelligent dog in the world, I kid you not; and that is the point of this article. She wants to set the record straight.

All dogs are smart compared to the average human. Every breed falls somewhere just above the mean of human IQ – no smarter than the average woman, but at least one standard deviation above the average male. We can all agree the debate is over about that – it’s the human perception of relative dog IQ that Ginger says we have wrong.

We see the smartest dogs as the dogs able to do a lot of things. Guard dogs, water dogs, bird dogs, sheep dogs; even lion hunting dogs – Rhodesian Ridgebacks are bred for that. But they are not very intelligent dogs, claims Ginger. A dog can get killed hunting lions.

“Why,” the dogologist asks, “does she say that? Such bravery, comprehension and acuity to the master’s direction is an amazing display of intelligence,” or something to that effect…I’m making this part up.

Well, the reason those dogs aren’t smart is because they work. Sure it takes smarts to do work, but if they were smart about working, says Ginger, they wouldn’t be at the bottom of the employment food chain, working for meals and a chain-link pen. There would be Bill Gates-dogs and Facebook guy-dogs. Googleionaires are popping up all over, but no dogs. And don’t mention Rin-Tin-Tin, Lassie, or any of those big actors. They got scale wage in Hollywood – the industry with the worst income inequality in the world.

To find the smartest dogs you have to look at lap dogs. Remember, get out of your human head and enter the dog’s world. Trainable dogs seem smart to humans, but training leads to following direction, which leads to work, which we’ve already established dogs are not that smart about. No, trainable dogs are not the smart ones, it’s the entitled little yappers.

Not every lap breed is super smart, either; don’t mistake this. Just like people, there are the successful copycats – oh my, that’s not a good choice of words – the not-so smart, but cunning emulators, such as the Pug and Dachshund, whose refinement is only hide deep. So, one must pick through the breeds like weeds. One must understand how they take advantage and use their intelligence, indeed look into the very workings of their mind, and then it is evident which the smartest dogs are. Watch a tiny lap dog when a big dog is around and you will see what I mean. It’s the little Napolean who is the boss.

The miniature poodle is a good starting point. Extremely smart dog. Notice first, the miniature poodle does no work. This is actually the primary sign of true canine intelligence, contrary to human consensus. Poodles are entirely ornamental. They are useless, except for being cuddly, cute balls of fur with a flicking tongue.

This is intentional on their part. They haven’t just outsmarted working dogs by becoming treasured accessories to wealthy, doting, elderly women who overfeed them and carry them in a purse. They have even outsmarted the cat.

How, you wonder, is this possible – smarter than a cat? Cats are masters of the universe, having enslaved humans to feed, and care for them, so they can do whatever they damn well please. We all know the rat-chasing thing is only for their amusement.

SAM_0175But they live filthy lives, skulking about gutters and eating fishy things. They are utter sociopaths, unavailable for emotional support when you need it, and always ready to give you that haughty look that says you’re an idiot. Their finest display of affection is a dead bird on the doorstep – now just what does that mean? No one depends on a cat. Just watch when the can of tuna is opened. This makes cats…well, dispensable when it comes right down to it. Just leave them outside for the night and let the coyotes do the rest.

Poodles have this figured out. They are there for love at the drop of a hat. Try it. Just drop a hat and they’ll wag their tail. Drop anything and they go nuts. If it’s food they’ll eat it, no questions asked. Get down at their level and they will attack you with love. They make you dependent on them without doing anything except hang around eating snacks and smothering you with affection. That is damn smart.

Step up a level on the canine IQ and you are almost at the pinnacle; the Chihuahua. Chihuahua’s are annoying, yet they still manage to do everything the poodle does, only better. It’s the saucy attitude and single-minded devotion to one true love of their life – you – that makes it work.

Did you know aristocrats used poodles as bed warmers? Oh yes. Now here is where you see frightening intelligence. They do absolutely nothing but sleep in a warm bed and that’s their job. But they aren’t working, because they are asleep in a warm bed. And it’s your bed, and you’re keeping them warmer than they’re keeping you. You see how it works?

I know…it’s scary when you think about it like that. You can see it in their eyes. They face forward like a human’s. They bulge with innocent vulnerability; and are big, and brown, and get dewy and can make you do anything they want. This has been laboratory tested against a control group of Yorkshire Terriers, an accomplished lap dog in it’s own right, and the eyes of the Chihuahua have been found to be more persuasive in nine out of ten cases. That is a statistical slam-dunk – and yes, the hair was brushed from the terriers’ eyes.

Ginger is part Chihuahua, and no doubt her cunning ways are founded in those genes, but she is mixed with other strange canine genetics impossible to determine…she is a mutt. Gone is the nervous jitter of the Chihuahua. Gone is the yapping mouth. Thanks to her genetic mishmash, she has all the favored attributes of the breed without the annoying ones. Instead, she has the attitude of a big dog. Indeed, she is not aware she is not a big dog, while at the same time being very Chihuahua.

As a result, she sleeps in the bed and acts as a reluctant bed warmer – she growls if you roll on her. She eats part of anything anybody is eating, never long between snacks. Amazingly, she stays slim. They say six, small meals a day – she has about eighteen. People let her out the door, and in the door, as many times as she asks. She lounges in the sun and she is taken for walks.

Lots of dogs get those things, you’re thinking. What makes Ginger special? Just look. The eyes of Madonna herself, gazing upon baby Jesus couldn’t be more touching. I have handed over my last savory bite of steak to those eyes many times.

IMG_1707That is why I call her a pirate. I’m writing while she’s in the other room, because she does not like to be called that, but she is a thief and I’ll come back to that later. Between her eyes is her nose, which is a feature of incongruence. It is the nose of a hound, with a slight under-bite, stuck on the head of a Chihuahua. This gives her a regal cuteness that she uses in the most incorrigible way. With her nasal length and under-bite, she can bare her teeth in a crooked snarl by lifting her left cheek, which has the effect of telling you exactly what she wants you to know. In other words, she communicates.

I know, dogs communicate, but I’m talking very specific things here. I mentioned she is a pirate, but she does not like to be called that. If I dare whisper in her ear “pirate,” she bites my nose. Every time I speak that word she will do this. It’s not a hard bite – it’s almost a kiss. But it’s not. It’s a love bite she delivers with a snarl that tells the real truth of her feelings, which is a barely contained dervish-like anger. She then chews my hands.

IMG_1729[1]This childlike cuteness melts butter in my heart and will force me to do anything, which is communication of the highest order, and this is when she shows her piracy. She has carte blanche then…requiring cheese, harassing cats, or she steals a toy from the neighbor dog. She steals a toy everyday. She pees and poops and runs to the neighbors, and takes a great deal of time selecting from the pile of toys they keep on the porch for their dog, Cookie, who is just a puppy, and then Ginger selects the finest, newest item and brings it home. She’ll do this in front of Cookie, when he is just begging her to notice him.

If I attempt to take it away, she lifts her left cheek until a bit of teeth show, and says, “Arghh, arghh!” in a very serious fashion, which stops me in my tracks. She knows she will get away with this because she has already conditioned me with the pirate play-anger. Now, how does this imply great intelligence? Well, I can leave a plate of filet mignon sitting on the coffee table within her easy reach, and leave the room, yet she will not touch it. Now we have already established she is a wanton thief, stealing from her neighbor everyday. So, why does she not take the steak? Because she knows she will be rewarded handsomely for not taking the steak. In fact she will get a pat on the head and a big piece of steak anyway. She understands consequence with such subtlety that I am amazed.

She knows she won’t be scolded for another dog’s bone, but take steak off my plate? Now you get a flavor for what I’m talking about. She is a Machiavellian charmer of the highest order. She is also a critic. She won’t write – can’t with the paws, but she edits with her lip. I read my copy out loud, and she “arghhs,” then I fix it. Which brings us back to the name of this blog, which is Ginger’s Post – not Andy’s Post. Outsmarted again!