Archive for March, 2022

Tramp

When we decided to get a puppy last summer, I, a cat guy, had some questions. For example, how often do dogs eat? And will it know how to pee outside immediately? The answers to those are all the time and evidently no, respectively. When Burke informed me that we were getting a female dog, I was instantly excited to be able to use the term “bitch” literally and without repercussions. However, it dawned on me that soon I would be living in a house of girls from three different species.

This didn’t seem to matter. The cat is always a psychopath, the human has her moments, but the dog was a puppy, a playful, happy, innocent puppy whose goals seemed to be as follows and in descending order of importance.

  1. Eat.
  2. Find food
  3. Explore under the couch (probably for food, but also sometimes for pens)
  4. Eat the cat’s food
  5. If 4 is not possible, then eat the cat’s poop (the next best thing apparently)

But then at month nine a little splotch of blood appeared from the pup’s nether regions and her nipples got big and some other biological things that I’ll let you imagine. We realized that our little puppy was in heat. My little girl was growing up!

Taking her for a walk elicited heretofore unknown levels of frustration. She smelled everything. Each drop of urine, each pile of poop were like tinder profiles for the neighborhood’s dogs. She smelled each one, took down the dog’s credentials (good diet, healthy, good testicle cleansing regimen). Then she shook her butt until a few inches away she came across Fido’s urine, the chihuahua from flat 12.

Her personality changed a bit as well. She became cheeky, like a teenager. She says mean things to me while I cook and refuses to acknowledge our relationship when we’re around the other neighborhood dogs. As she has long been in a feud with the cat for domination of the flat, she took to attacking the poor B Monster. She rushes her, even sometimes tackles her. The cat, surely remembering her own heat from 14 years ago, rolls her eyes and tells herself that it’s just a phase.

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March 19 1848, Wyatt Earp is Born

…and would-be problem drinkers all over the west get nervous

Of the people whose life is a mix of fact and fiction at every turn, Wyatt Earp is the head of that organization. Depending on your source, he is either a thug and a gang leader, the bravest dude who ever walked the Old West, creator of his own mythology, or, if your source is just TV, Kurt Russell. The mostly agreed upon facts are that Wyatt Earp was a lawman, a boomtown speculator, and a saloon owner.

Wyatt Earp was a saloon owner in various boomtowns that erupted in the West after the Civil War. The prospect of finding goal and fortune, as well as frustration from the fallout of southern towns in the reconstruction that followed the Civil War, sent a lot of men West. And someone had to get them drunk.

To be sure, the American West’s relationship with alcohol was much older. American fur traders would trade alcohol with Native Americans in the early 19th century. The fur traders would also engage in a yearly throwdown called ‘a rendezvous’ which was like a massive trading festival and binge drinking fest. Imagine Bonnaroo, but with more chewing tobacco and a lot more violence.

But it’s in the boomtowns that popped up all over the West in the mid to late 19th century that comes to our mind’s eye when we picture a saloon. The one you’re imagining now is a little square building on a dusty road. The building might be on a plank boardwalk next to some other squat buildings, it might sit alone on the dusty road. There’s a hitching post outside and the swinging doors so (as it turns out, erroneously) ubiquitous that they are now eponymous. Above it, in block or stenciled letters is a basic name on a flat marquee: Red’s Saloon, John’s Saloon, Sal’s Saloon. Often, the saloon was a tent on the ground and if it stuck around for long enough to make some money, a more permanent structure would be built on its spot.

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The Kid Calendar

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda

Things change for me all the time in my 40s. I wake up to new aches and pains and each week seems to bring with it a new thing on or in my body that has decided to stop working like it used to. I discover hair where once there was no hair and no hair where once hair reigned. My doctor is on speed dial. I look in the mirror and say “huh” a lot and then I invariable follow that with “oh well.” It’s quite a show.

One of the things I miss most about being a kid is enjoying the Kid Calendar. You know, the phases, feelings, and events that influenced and were influenced by the changing seasons and months. When I was a kid, the Kid Calendar was a wholly different one than the one our parents followed. Each event and date on the Kid Calendar meant some new shift or focus for my kid brain.

While my parents’ calendar read June, July, and August, the Kid Calendar combined those all into one thing: summer. This was a huge highlight of the Kid Year. As such it was earmarked for freedom, fun, sunburns, tick inspections, and wounds that would turn light pink under said sunburn. There might be a trip to the ocean, a leniency period on bedtimes and curfews. Summer was a time to spend outdoors. The woods and the Neshaminy River were our daily venue, adventure was the name of the game. If a summer day ended without bleeding or at least one run-in with a deadly creature, then it was not a successful summer day.

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March 5, 1953 Happy Stalin’s Death Day

On the night of February 28, 1953 Stalin summoned members of his inner circle to his dacha on the outskirts of Moscow. They met now and then for dinner, a movie, and irrational ravings about capitalism. Tonight, summoned were Deputy Premier Georgy Malenkov, Chief of Secret Police Lavrenti Beria, Nikita Khrushchev, and Defense Minister Nikolai Bulganin. Though they had been invited for dinner, Stalin did have an ulterior motive. Like many dictators, Stalin suffered from an all-encompassing paranoia. If they were drinking and watching movies with him, they couldn’t be plotting his overthrow. Khrushchev pointed out later that the mood that night had been pleasant, suggesting they weren’t always. The implication was that Stalin’s parties were often terrifying.   

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