Scratchy Glitter

Observations for the easily irritated.

Tag: Catholicism

I Remembered To Show Up



…is what Rom says this is.

Brought to you courtesy of Nick, who showed up at my door on my birthday with a gift bag full of apple ale clenched in his teeth, before flying away. The bag was black and had scratchy glitter on it. I suspect this was deliberate. Have you noticed that such bags always have the scratchy glitter on one side, but are smooth on the other side, so that glitter doesn’t rub off on your clothes? Why do I always have to touch the glitter anyway, even though it makes me shudder?

I have had 2 cans of ale (my normal dose), which makes me want to spend money on something self-indulgent. Last year it was green-and-white gingham shorts, but I resisted the temptation. (I love green-and-white gingham, and plaid with a black background. These prints give me a feeling of security. They’re like the opposite of the Baby Corn and the Union Suit. Anyone remember those? Check the posts under Conspiracy News for more info.)Now am tempted by some Keds in Iris Shimmer, and an Almond Cucumber perfume sample, even though I tried the AC perfume before and it didn’t work for me. Almond and cucumber are my comfort notes (kind of like the Magic Prints noted above), so I keep thinking, But it has to work! Sometimes perfume just refuses to cooperate.

OK, I hit some key that keeps deleting stuff I didn’t intend, and I don’t know what I hit, so I can’t correct it, and that is why the above paragraph is incorrectly punctuated.


“Schoolwork, one and one is two

But you know that now that’s just not true”

Yes, it is true. Your ingestion of LSD does not affect its veracity.


Rom says that “When the Music’s Over–turn out the lights” makes him think, “turnip delight.” You’re welcome. I hope I can forget that before I listen to it again.

Today is the 2nd anniversary of Alien Finger, which is celebrating by being stiff and sore, which I suppose is appropriate. I keep reading about people who dislocate a finger, pop it right back in, and it’s good as new. What’s their secret? Youth, probably.

Today is Pentecost, which makes me think, “Here he comes to save the day! That means the Paraclete is on his way!”

Long ago, my cousin Becky (hurray for Facebook and cousin Linda, who helped me discover cousins on the Forbidden Side of the family!) asked me, “Do you miss working?” After long thought, I can say I sometimes miss having a job (a Purpose in Life and all that, though I never thought of 911 as that purpose), but I don’t miss having that job. As I think every time I go by Dispatch on the bus and think, Glad I’m not answering phones in there.


I visited this fine establishment on Cinco de Mayo. Since it was Saturday, I had church, and couldn’t go to Hacienda and have a strawberry daiquiri, which would have been the logical thing to do. Although people might have been drunk at St Boniface Church before.

Taco John’s has been around since 1969, although Rom can’t remember it the year he graduated from high school. The identity of Taco John is mysterious. I imagine him being kind of like Johnny Appleseed.

TJ’s is the only carpeted fast-food place I know of. Like the Women’s Hospital, the addition of carpet adds a certain cachet. It’s almost like you’re at home, except that someone cut into your abdomen. At the hospital, I mean, not at Taco John’s.

My softshell taco was very good, especially since the clever person who assembled it added a tuck-and-fold technique that meant I didn’t have to balance it carefully to keep everything from falling out the end. That must have been a Cinco de Mayo special, though, since it has fallen out the end every other time I’ve been there.

Ah, Potato Ole’s. The old Mexican classic of disc-shaped Tater Tots sprinkled with Lawry’s seasoned salt. Cinco de Mayo marked the first time I have ever finished an order. And if you put cheese on them, you are gilding the lily. And if you put bacon bits, donut bites, icing, and chocolate on them and EAT THEM FOR DESSERT, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

TJ’s has a senior discount of 10%. I forgot to add discount information when I wrote about Taco Bell, but that was because I got 10% off there once, and the next time I requested it, the manager said they didn’t have a discount. Maybe I just looked too young.


I am actually not against leggings as a lower half, as long as you wear a butt-covering top. But today I saw a woman who did wear a butt-covering top, but then knotted it up in the back, because she got dressed and thought, “Oh no! Now no one can see my butt!”

Speaking of entities trying to defy me, the roses in my yard, which normally bloom in mid-May, burst into glorious bloom simultaneously on THE DAY AFTER MY BIRTHDAY.

Spellcheck thinks “donut” is not a word. I don’t know what to tell it.

WordPress has an icon in the corner that says “Stress-Free Writing Experience.” I have to find out what that might be, but I am too stressed-out at the moment. As is Alien Finger.



I Hate a Parade

Therefore, the festival parade got rained on.

Rom said, “You should post more frequently so you don’t forget stuff.” Yeah, good intentions, what the road to hell is paved with, etc. I’m inclined to think the road to hell is not well-marked, either.

The bus today was standing-room-only, thanks to a woman whose attitude was, “I can’t be expected to move over. I have a tote bag.”


Speaking of which, in that blessedly cool and quiet setting, a woman marched up to the counter with 2 orders of fries and said, “These are cold and nasty. And I want 3 orders back.” OK, if you paid for 3 orders but only got 2, fine. If someone in your party already ate one order even though they were cold, or you expect to get an additional, free order of fries as compensation, too bad. And try not to be such a bitch. See, if my fries aren’t hot, I consider it to be in the nature of fast food, and better luck next time.

This is why they never made me the supervisor of anything.


My 3rd post (“World Without End”) was about how I got religion, if anyone has been wondering. Trust me, I was not Likeliest To Attend Church when I started at Dispatch. In the interest of brevity, that post featured only why I became religious in the first place, not why I embraced any particular religion. So here’s that explanation:

After my initial ecstatic experience in March of ’95, I feverishly read up on various religions, but came to no firm conclusion. Then I decided that, if God really was trying to get in touch with me, surely guidance would be provided, so I prayed for that. Around dawn on a day in  June (those who know me at all will know I was staying up late, not getting up early), I was idly paging through an old Bible I still possessed, and my eye fell on the verse in Matthew that says Ask, and you shall receive. This felt like a Sign to me, and I started attending St Paul’s Episcopal church downtown (that being the denomination I was raised in). And yes, I am aware of the objection that I probably chose it just because it was familiar to me. I’m pretty much aware of any objections to faith that can be found.

My conversion to Catholicism was more of an intellectual decision. I had been reading church history, and was troubled by all the divisions that had arisen, from the Orthodox split in 1054 to the Protestant Reformation. Jesus is on record saying that Christians should all be one, and we Episcopalians prayed for unity at every service, but we were part of the problem! So on Ash Wednesday 2002 at St Paul’s, I was gazing out the stained glass window that had been refurbished thanks to my contribution that year, and thinking, “Too bad that window has my name on a plaque, since I’ll be a Catholic now.” Since I hadn’t consciously made the decision yet, I was a bit unsettled by that thought. But I got my ashes and headed for the bus stop to go home, and prayed, “God, if I ought to  become a Catholic, let someone ask me if the ashes on my forehead mean that I’m Catholic.” In the past, comments on my ashes were either “You have some dirt on your face,” or, “Are you in a cult?” (Seriously.) When I got on the bus, a guy pointed to my face and said, “Are you a Roman Catholic?” So there you have it.


Stopgap Measure

Yeah, I said I’d do restaurant reviews, but I had to get up early today, by which I mean 10:30, and I don’t feel like doing anything that organized.  So instead there’s this.

I got up early to attend the Assumption Mass at noon, and the deacon came over to me and said they had no one to do the Scripture readings, and asked me to assist. So I got to tell the congregation about a dragon with seven heads and ten horns (trust me, it’s allegorical), which always makes me wonder how the horns are allocated among the heads. It’s like the old hymn “Crown Him With Many Crowns”–after all, He only has one head. Unlike the dragon.

All theology aside, I forgot to mention that at Nick’s party the other day, I mentioned that I was still halfheartedly considering getting another tattoo, and he said eagerly, “Why not? It would have ‘Nick’ in it somewhere, right?” I’m surprised he didn’t insist it should be spelled out “Nicholas.” I’d love to get a temporary tattoo like that, show it to him (without telling him it’s temporary), and watch him blush and stammer.

Another thing I should do is get a Sour Neon Crawlers t-shirt made, and when someone asks me what it means, say, “It’s a band! Haven’t you ever heard of them?” and see how far I could go with it. Come to think of it, that sounds like a movie premise. If I have so many ideas, why aren’t I rich?

Well, I’ve been trying to get to bed earlier, by which I mean 3:30 instead of 4, but I’ve already screwed that up by trying to think of ways to annoy A Certain Person on Facebook. And I still have to pay the water bill. Speaking of, well, stuff, Time magazine had an article, “Solar Eclipse May Unite Divided America.” Because whatever our differences, we all like staring at the sun.

Crisis Averted

You must excuse any typos because I’m pretty drunk right now. Nick, you may avert your gaze.


Disclaimer: Drunk enough to make many typos, sober enough to correct them.

Who would have thought I’d ever be popular enough to reserve a whole room at Hacienda? (Notice: Let’s see how well I do at Chuck E. Cheese on Sunday.) The most decadent thing I did was get chip crumbs in my hair–hardly a match for Easter Vigil at St Boniface, where I got hot wax on my hand and holy water in my eye–and I got tipsy enough to think sending Nick a picture of me with a drink in my hand was a good idea (though it wasn’t that bad an idea {disclaimer–I meant to do italics for “bad” rather than boldface, but I’m drunk, so suck it}, since I wasn’t driving).

There was no question of any sort of singing, since we were SO LOUD anyway. {Non-disclaimer: I have resumed this post several hours later and am now sober, which makes it much easier.} I was very pleased to see several former colleagues who had gone on to greener pastures (I guess the sewer department might produce greener pastures, for one). It is worthy of note that, in spite of this being a Mexican restaurant, A Certain Person had a burger covered with loathsome vegetables and a huge pile of fries. I had two of their wonderful strawberry daiquiris, the  most painless way to get alcohol into your body there is, but, combined with the large quantity of food I consumed, they just made me sleepy. I went home and dozed off mid-rosary on the couch, which sounds like some kind of retirement cliche.

Nick’s owner assured me he was sorry for his absence and would make it up to me somehow, both of which he loftily denied.

Now it’s time to shower, and I need to remove nail polish first, so I must go.

Your Car Is Not a Boat

One would think that was obvious, but the hordes who insist on driving into high water, “Turn Around Don’t Drown” be damned, prove otherwise.

Also, don’t call 911 just to say the streets are flooded. What do you expect us to do about it? “You need to get barricades out here and block the street.” No I don’t, for 3 reasons:

1. The city doesn’t have enough barricades to block every street that floods OR enough officers to stand there and direct traffic,

2. By the time we could get barricades to all those places, the water would have gone down anyway,

3. Even if the above 2 things were not true, people would drive around the barricades anyway.

Yes, I work for the Department of Boundless Cynicism. But my eyes are not red, no matter what Nick says.


Remember my ranting about Walmart? The other night, we needed to call an ambulance for one of their loss-prevention people because he was chasing a shoplifter and ran into a door. With his head. HE RAN INTO THE DOOR. WITH HIS HEAD. And then wanted to file assault charges.

Spellcheck is telling me that Walmart is not a word. Would that it were so. And don’t bother saying, “But I bet you like their low prices!” because I never go there. It is sensory overload incarnate.


A couple of suspects were known to the caller only as “Rara” and “Shy.” Since he burst into a motel room, displayed a gun, and hit someone in the head, I don’t think he was really shy. Also, “displayed” a gun always makes me think they’re gesturing toward it and smiling like Vanna White would do.

Speaking of street names, HEY FOXY! I feel bad about not posting on your birthday.


From my colleague 911SK: “A turd rolled in litter looks better than just a plain turd.”

And from me: “If it smells like dog poop wherever you go, you might check your shoes.”


I’m wearing my impersonating-an-officer outfit–navy blue quick-dry cargo pants and navy blue shirt. Just give me a gun and a  taser and I’m set! “NO!” Nick blurts out hastily. “Do NOT give her those things!”


Remember last year, when I had a party at the Howell Park shelter house, which was re-painted for the occasion? And I reassured you that I’d never have a birthday party again? Well, I lied–the Catholic Diocese of Evansville will be having a Mighty Mass (yes, I made up my own title, lest you blame them for it–the actual title of the event is “Rejoice!,” as all must do at the commemoration of my birth) at the Ford Center, on the eve of Pentecost, which is–you guessed it–May 14 this year!! I hope the thousands attending remember to bring me presents.


Facebook says May 7 is World Naked Gardening Day. This is to “celebrate nudism in nature.” Well, since all the animals are naked, I’d think we’d have enough celebration, but apparently not.


Amazon urges me to buy a shower gel dispenser shaped like a giant nose, and the product comes out of…yeah, you guessed it. No thanks. What’s next, a giant pair of buttocks?




Day 14: Fire Hazard


I received a call that there was smoke coming from the building behind the funeral home on 1st Ave. It turned out to be the crematorium in action.

I was at a loss for titles…

“All we are is dust in the wind”?

“Smoke in the water, fire in the sky”?

“I was caught in a burning ring of fire”?

“Come on baby, light my fire”?

The opinion was once expressed that “Don’t Fear the Reaper” should be my theme song, which I found a bit odd–I fear the Reaper a great deal.

S.G.’S 14TH POST, 3/29/13–“Holy Week: Maundy Thursday”

–I explain the concept of Christian charity, and deplore the current state of toilet paper advertising.

Some poor soul has taken on the task of actually digging up and reading these old posts along with me. Congratulations.

Day 5: Quantity, Not Quality

Be advised that I did not promise a minimum length of post. Attempts to refer to a mythical “spirit of the law” will be disregarded just as I disregard the “spirit of Vatican II.”

Sunday was that wonderful first day when it’s 25 degrees and you walk out, look around, and think, “Oh, look! Everything died!” Except the little pink bouquet from our wedding rosebush (given to us as a wedding gift–the variety was actually introduced that year, in ’87–so cool!) which Rom collects and brings in every year.

I neglected to say that the old post I dealt with yesterday was the first to mention a certain Nick, who should need no introduction, but is insisting on getting one anyway. Of course, he had not been transformed into a beast at that point. It will be interesting to see when the metamorphosis occurs.

S.G. POST #5, 2/28/13: Crisis in Progress/FanBase Follies/Mildly Amusing Adventures TRIFECTA

–I exulted in my fan mail, including someone who wanted to know why I wasn’t a columnist for a major national newspaper. That question remains unanswered.

–I noted scratchy/glittery nail polish at Walgreen’s which was called “Almost Famous.” I think my own situation could be better characterized as “Almost Obscure.”

–I told a story about The Entity Now Known As A Certain Person getting humped by a police dog while she was on the air.

OK, I am now on vacation, and you know what that means–DRUNK POSTING! Not just yet, though.

WORDS! WORDS! WORDS! Nick, can I go to bed now?


Lord of Misrule

I have called you all together to address the topic of a certain photograph recently circulated on the Internet. Said photo purportedly shows your World Leader, dressed in un-matching clothing and wearing what are commonly known as Mardi Gras beads. Questions have naturally arisen.


Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday,” because it comes before Ash Wednesday. Since the exact date each year depends on the date of Easter, it is understandable that one might not remember when it is. But we can all agree that IT COMES ON A TUESDAY, and therefore NO MARDI GRAS PARADE ON FRIDAY, UNDERSTAND?


I just learned a few days ago that Mardi Gras has its own official colors–who knew? Purple, green, and gold. I realized–I can do this! As follows: purple turtleneck, gold polo shirt, olive green pants. And yes, the fact that nothing matched (well, my underwear matched the turtleneck, and my socks were chosen not by color, but because that pair wouldn’t scrunch down into my snow boots and never be heard from again, but I digress) didn’t bother me as much as it would have bothered me to go out on Mardi Gras not wearing the Mardi Gras colors, once I knew there was such a thing. Once you know the truth, you’re obligated to follow it.

“But, but–” they say, squirming with impatience, “what were you doing eating lunch with Nick in the first place?”

Well, because he asked me. And the reason he asked me, it turns out, was because his owner was out watching 50 Shades of Gray, and he was in need of some wholesome entertainment. (Although, as it turned out, he was secretly fantasizing about how I acquired my two {2} strands of Mardi Gras beads.) (More on that later.) (More about the beads, not his fantasies.)

We were chaperoned by his two cubs, Thing One and Thing Two. Thing One is, I believe, destined to become like his father–Nick said, “I love you, son,” and was answered with “Yeah, right.” Four years old and he’s already sardonic. This was followed by a steady barrage from the back seat–“Dad, can you see me?” “No, I’m driving.” “Can you see me now?” “No.” “How about now?” “No, but I can feel you kicking the back of the seat.” Nick’s patience was saintly. I found it amusing, but I don’t have to live with it, since I have no children that I know of. Thing Two didn’t remember that he’d actually seen me a couple times before, and stared at me with solemn suspicion.

We landed at the Canton Inn, where Nick had threatened to take me on our ridealong, which now will never be, due to scheduling conflicts (the conflict being that I refuse to work on the same shift with him). I partook of the legendary buffet, which has the wonderful plus of LABELS FOR ALL THE FOOD, so I don’t have to risk a golden-brown batter coating actually containing something I don’t like. I had: egg drop soup, crab rangoon, fried rice, green beans that looked like asparagus, and which I actually thought were asparagus until my dining companion corrected me, and something called salty chicken, which was. Chicken and salty, that is. It was all very good, and the fried rice was excellent. Speaking of being corrected by my dining companion, I HAD TO BE TOLD that you’re supposed to take a fresh plate when you go up for seconds, instead of bringing back the plate you already have. Well, it’s not like I was going to stick my saliva-coated fork and spoon back into the public trough, so WHO CARES, and more importantly, HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW?

“But, but–” they say, imprudently interrupting me, “what about those Mardi Gras beads?”

OK, then. There is actually a separate story for each strand.

STRAND 1 (green round beads): This was a reward for eating lunch at Hacienda on 1st Avenue, which I did because my dental appointment happened to be on Mardi Gras one year, and Hacienda is across the street from the dentist’s office.

STRAND 2 (green disk-shaped beads): A reward for standing at the bus stop at Franklin & St Joe after the Mardi Gras parade had passed by. (And you know the old saying, “I Love a Parade!”? I hate a parade.) The beads were lying on the ground next to the bus stop sign.

So you see, there was a story to go with these beads. Just not a very interesting story. (“I came up with a better story,” Nick says, but I pretend not to hear him.)

And then he took me to DQ to get ICE CREAM, because I’d said I was giving up dessert for Lent the next day. Because that’s just the kind of guy he is.

I got home, and thought smugly, Ha! He should have taken a picture, to prove that I actually agreed to be seen with him in public, but he didn’t think of it! Went to check my email, and thought, Why are there all these Facebook comment notifications? Because HE TOOK THE PICTURE WHILE I THOUGHT HE WAS CHECKING HIS TEXT MESSAGES. So, speaking of 50 Shades, I think his owner should spank him when she gets home.


All together now: What old country? Any old country!

Nick was quite taken, in an icked-out sort of way, by a playful threat grownups used on children back in Rom’s childhood–“I’ll turn you upside down and spit in your butt!” Feel free to use it on your own children, if any. It will at least make them stop and stare at you for a moment.

Fun With Religion

Although I was baptized Catholic, I was raised Episcopalian. The story of my baptism itself affords some amusement. My mother finally agreed to her family’s urging, and told me later it was because the prospective godfather offered to give me a snowsuit as a baptismal present. Since it was September in Wisconsin, the need was obvious, so you could say that my mother sold my soul for a snowsuit. I may have told this story before, but my point in telling it NOW is to explain that I did not have a Catholic upbringing (“Then why didn’t you just say that and spare us the repetition?” they interject fretfully), so I gleaned most of the below from Rom.


St Boniface = St Boney-Face

Sacred Heart = Scared Heart

Corpus Christi = Carcass Crispy

“O Mother of the Word Incarnate” = O Mother of the Purple Hornet (I guess that’s the Green Hornet’s cousin)

“Angel of God, my guardian dear…ever this night be at my side” = “ever this night bite my side”


–poke the neck of the person in front of me with the pointy end of a palm on Palm Sunday

–tuck in someone’s shirt label

–glare at someone who wasn’t taking their screaming baby into the crying room WHICH IS PROVIDED FOR THAT PURPOSE

You can see that I haven’t progressed much beyond childhood myself. I seem to be stuck in the adolescent stage. complete with liturgically-inappropriate tattoo.


Sam has the dubious distinction of having the new Poise bladder-control liner named after her. The latest ad says, “I never go anywhere without Sam in my pants!” Poor, poor Sam.

In other product news…I’ve begun to suspect that expiration dates are a scheme to get us to buy another item before the first one is used up. Exhibit A–dental floss. What do they expect to happen if I don’t use it up by March?


You know what’s good? An egg-on-biscuit sandwich followed by an ice cream sandwich. You know what else is good? Drinking a packet of French dressing (well, just what’s left over when I’m done with the salad). But not all at the same meal. That would be gross.

Speaking of stuff I recommend, I don’t recommend bringing one’s entire collection of H.P. Lovecraft stories along to alleviate anxiety on long car trips.


I didn’t sit at my usual restroom-adjacent seat at McDonald’s the other day, and I’m sorry I didn’t, because I ended up having to yell across the room, ‘THAT DOOR STICKS; YOU JUST HAVE TO PUSH REALLY HARD!” They better fix that door. I can’t be there all the time.

Sacred, Profane, Etc.


I attended a church-sponsored social event today, which featured…FREE BEER! (Which I just almost tipped over onto my desk.) I had a can of Busch Light, which was all that was deployed at first. The can said, “an easy-drinking light beer!” Well, now that I’m accustomed to apple ale (“Dear God, have I turned her into a drunk?” Nick asks, but God does not answer him.), beer of any sort is no longer easy drinking. But I persevered bravely, and by the time I was ready for my 2nd can, they’d brought out Coors Light, which was somewhat easier-drinking. And what do I do when I’m too scatterbrained to read, but too uncoordinated to do housework (“as if you need an excuse to not do housework,” Rom is thinking)? You’re looking at it.

Turns out, after taking a naked can of beer to my table, that The Thing To Do on these occasions is to pour your beer into a cup, so that everyone can pretend that what you have isn’t beer. But I am immune to social cues, and by the time everyone was onto their 2nd can, they had ceased to care and become even as I am.

Lo and behold, I ran into our first (and only–what’s up with that?) civilian director, who also trained me and Made Me What I Am Today, J.A.S., now retired. We were then joined by M.K.L., my confirmation sponsor, who helped train me spiritually, one might say. Now, the question foremost in your minds should be…


Both of the above individuals were able to offer surprising insights on this important question.

–J.S., who has seen me both drunk and sober, opined that I am actually more socially-acceptable after a couple drinks…taking the edge off, as it were.

–And M.K. stated that beer would actually help me fit into the context of West Side Catholicism. I happen to come from Milwaukee, a hotbed of beer-drinking German and Irish Catholicism, so the West Side seems very homelike.

So, the general consensus was that I need more beer. I took my unfinished 2nd can with me on the ride home, cleverly keeping it below the window line and out of view of any prowling officers. (I fought the law and I won!!)


(…cue the groans from everyone other than Nick)

The other day, after driving back and forth in front of my house honking the horn, I mean siren, until I came out, Nick stopped by for a visit. After the ritual exchange of insults (solemnly witnessed by his owner, who was riding along with him…I guess she can manage him), he said, over the police loudspeaker, “You’re making me uncomfortable. Step away from the car.” Now what could such a formidably-armed beast have to fear from little ol’ me? He then said, “You’re boring me. Go back inside.” And then he delivered himself of the opinion that his visit was surely the highlight of my day. Actually, the highlight of my day had already occurred at approximately 0215 that morning, but I was irked by his statement anyway.

BUT FIRST…FINISHED MY BEER, TIME FOR COLD PIZZA! And every time I look in the mirror, I notice that my hair is in disarray. This raises the question, Can hair get drunk?

I WANT THESE HICCUPS TO STOP. Maybe cold pizza will help.

Speaking of food, the bunch of bananas in the kitchen have a sticker saying, “Ready for the Big Game!” Ah, the traditional Big Game banana. (“What you do with that banana is none of my business,” Nick says primly, but really, who asked him?) (And could this be the reason he steals any bananas he sees I have at work?)


In the face of such flagrant provocation, I’m tempted to not write about him (“I want to see you begging, say ‘Forget it’ just for spite,” to quote Joan Jett), but since I couldn’t deal with the resulting tears, the alternative is to write something that will make him sorry he ever mentioned it. (Actually, I fear that would only be possible with the aid of a ride-along, but don’t tell him.)

And so, without further ado (because there’s been too much ado already)…


Once upon a time, in a back yard not far from here (outside my office window, to be exact)…

“Could I tase you? Just a little bit?” Nick asks. “More would be…inhumane.”

“Absolutely not,” I tell him, trying to concentrate on my book. His owner had brought him by for what she called a “play date,” and what I call “beast-sitting” (although I’d never sit on him, for fear he’d interpret it as a ride-along, take off and go flying through the air). She wanted to enjoy a spa day without him attacking anyone who tried to touch her.

“You don’t want me to have any fun.”

“True,” I say, still not looking at him. Out of the corner of my eye, I see him get up on his back legs and look into my office window, but the icons on my wall frighten him and he drops down with a hiss. “Tell me a story, then,” he says, lying down so I can see the silky tuft of down on top of his head, which he hopes I’ll find endearing.

I put my book down, with a sigh which hope he’ll find guilt-inducing, but you know how that goes. “You know, the world doesn’t revolve around you.”

He tilts his head, considering. “I don’t accept your primitive cosmology.”

“OK, I’ll tell you a story, then.” He sits up eagerly. “Once upon a time, there was a beast who bothered a dispatcher until she beat him. The End.”

He lays his ears back. “I don’t like that story.”

“Too bad. Great literature always stirs up strong feelings.”

“But it’s not convincing. You’re not authorized to beat me under these circumstances.” He sits up very straight and recites the Rules of Obedience, which, like all of his kind, he was required to memorize as part of his training. “The dispatcher is entitled to beat a disobedient beast only during working hours. The owner, of course, may beat said beast at any time.”

“Well, she told me I could when she dropped you off.”


“It was implied.”

He eyes my foot and begins to bare his teeth.

“And you”–I say quickly–“are not entitled to use force against me at any time–”

“–except during ride-alongs.” Damn, I was hoping his memorization skills weren’t that good.

We glare at each other until he begins lashing his tail, then I pick up my book again. And he knocks it out of my hand.

“Damn it, you–” I leap to my feet and start casting around for something to whack him with. He panics, screeches, and leaps up into the tree.

Now I understand why you don’t often see such beasts in trees. His panic intensifies. “How the hell do I get down?” He thrashes about, his tail snapping off several small branches.

“Um, fly?”

“I can’t! There’s not enough clearance!”

“OK, then try folding your wings–Calm down!” I say, a little too sharply, as he begins to keen. “Fold your wings. Slowly.”

The habit of obedience kicks in, and he starts to do as I say, but we hit a snag–literally. “I can’t–owww!” He is very loud, and I wonder what the hell my neighbors are thinking.

“Calm down. Hold still, let me see.”

He becomes quiet, but is still panting. Now I can see that one of the hooks on his wings has caught on a projecting bit of bark.

Now what do I do? I don’t think I’ve ever climbed a tree in my life. And even if I could, being up there with all those claws and teeth and such…Finally I get a Bright Idea.

I grab the long-handled pruning tool Rom uses to trim the tree branches. Unfortunately, Nick only notices that I’m holding something with blades at the end of it, and starts yelling again. “You’re going to clip my wings!”

“I am not. And you had them clipped when I trained you, didn’t you?”

“Not without anesthetic!”

“Look, I’m using the other end.” I hold it up for his inspection. “Now stay very still…”

Very carefully (and not without a bit of whimpering from the victim), I work the hook off the bit of bark and free his wing. He sighs and lays his head down on the branch, eyes closed.

“But I’m still up here,” he says.

“True.” Now what? Maybe he’ll eventually pass out and fall off the branch. But if Rom comes home before Nick’s owner comes to pick him up, seeing another male might cause fights to break out. So, I take advantage of his still-closed eyes to tiptoe closer, stretch up to get hold of the end of the tail dangling between the leaves, and, neat as you please, pull him out of the tree before he can dig in his claws. With a startled squawk, he tumbles to the ground, taking some leaves and an abandoned birds’ nest with him, and landing with a crash.

“Are you OK?”

He gets up and shakes himself off. “Yeah, I think so. My wing’s a little sore, that’s all.”

“Sorry I hurt your pride–”

“I have no pride,” he replies loftily. “Pride is a weakness that my enemies could use against me.”

“You’re confusing pride with dignity.  Dignity is what you don’t have. Stop licking yourself.”

“Don’t you want me to be clean?

…And then his owner walks into the yard and looks around. “I don’t remember seeing all these branches on the ground.” She turns to Nick. “Have you been very good, like I told you?”

Nick and I look at each other. “Of course he has,” I say.


…And sure, this should have been two separate posts. But I have two words for you–FREE BEER.





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