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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

There Are Childhood Memories… And Then There Are Precious Childhood Memories

Where the trains of thought have no brakes, and the engineers are asleep on the job.

My dog may soon become a star.

Well, okay, not so much a star as an anonymous minor celebrity. And a local one, at that. Still, that’s better than you or I are likely to achieve, unless you’re one of those people who go heroically pulling children out of wells, or giving Heimlichs to random passersby. And even those sorts of selfless acts of bravery aren’t guaranteed to bring you accolades, as I found out myself. (As it turns out, you don’t get credit for a well rescue if you’re the one who boots the kid in there in the first place. Also, people seem to appreciate a Heimlich hug somewhat less if you administer it when they’re not actually choking. Pick, pick, pick.)

Anyway, my dog’s already pretty well-known in certain local circles. She was one of a group of dogs featured in a small daily newspaper, and she’s visited schools for children that are, um… what’s the term I’m supposed to use this week? ‘Differently abled’? I think that’s it. And everybody — I mean everybody — who visits the training place where we leave her while we’re at work just adores her. I can’t get in and out of that place without some new person saying, ‘Gosh, that’s your dog? She’s fantastic! What a sweet dog. I love her!

Which is nice and all, but do each and every single one of them then have to look me up and down with that expression that says, ‘Are you sure that’s your dog, ’cause I can’t see how a dingleberry like you could possibly have a dog so cool.‘ Thanks. No, really. Thanks so much.

(That reminds me, I’ve really got to work harder on teaching her the ‘bite ’em in the ass’ command. You wouldn’t believe what I have to go through to try to get that one across. Suffice it to say that it involves lots of peanut butter, a soft fluffy pillow in my pants, and lots of Bactine. And I don’t want to talk about it any further. Or think about it, really.)

I suppose our puppy deserves all the attention. She is a very good pooch, and simply loves people. She’s just about the friendliest, tail-waggingest, crotch-sniffingest pup you’d ever want to meet.

(And nothing but nothing says, ‘I love you‘ quite like ‘*SNNNNNNURF* Gee, your pubes smell terrific!‘ Truly, it’s the international language.)

My only concern is that I haven’t found a way to turn my dog’s sunny disposition and (relatively) good manners into cold, hard cash. This is America, after all, where the national creed is ‘Exploit first, ask questions later‘ (‘E pluribus unum‘, my lily-white, rosy-cheeked ass. How many people even know what that means, do you think?) But she’s too distractable to go into acting, and she doesn’t really have the ‘classic look’ the dog photographers seem to dig. I’ve thought about loaning her out as a professional chick magnet — if I were in the market for a lady friend, I would have had boatloads of opportunities to strike up a conversation, given all the cooing and stroking the dog gets from women on the street.

(Of course, that sort of thing wouldn’t have really worked for me, even if I weren’t already married. I was never able to talk to a woman that I didn’t know, but wanted to know. You know, KNOW. Intimately and sweatily and, if all went well, moanily. Okay, so I didn’t often think quite that far ahead, but I still found a way to psyche myself out to the point of slack-jawed babbling.

(You think this shit is bad; you ain’t seen nothin’, folks.)

So even if I’d had the dog way back when, I’m sure I’d have managed to mumble, fumble, stumble, and/or bumble my way out of lots of girls’ pants. Or I’d have overcompensated and said things like, ‘Yeah. I like to be petted, too!‘ or ‘Boy, it must be nice to be able to lick yourself any time you want.‘ Which would eventually get me thrown in jail, I suspect. Where I might get more action, but not the kind I’m looking for. Though if I still had my ass pillow and Bactine, at least I’d have a fighting chance in there.)

So, anyway, the dog — while very popular and a joy to have around, when she’s not horkin’ on the floor or playing peek-a-boo with skunks — has cost far more money than she’s made. Which is fine, I suppose, but she hasn’t made any money. Not one red ugly-ass cent. Meanwhile, she’s got food, and bones, and treats, and peanut butter, and toys, and beds, and all manner of grooming crap. And as I write, she’s just lying here, rolled half over, not even trying to bring in the dough. Lousy shiftless bitch.

But all that may change soon. You see, our puppy may soon be featured on Zoom. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with this show. It’s a for-kids, by-kids, with-kids kind of deal. Okay, so it’s probably not by kids, since I don’t remember the cameras shakin’ all over the place, or the scripts littered with ‘booger’ and ‘cootie’ references. But there’s a bunch of kids in it, and they… um, sing and play and talk to each other, I guess. It’s been quite a while since I’ve actually seen the show, I have to admit. I discovered it when I was still pretty young — maybe ten or twelve — but probably a little too old to really appreciate the show for its entertainment or educational value. I’d already graduated from Sesame Street and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and had given up on most of the Electric Company. (Though the Spiderman and Letterman bits were still worth watching, if you didn’t mind sitting through some counting and spelling and other learning crap.) So I didn’t watch Zoom a lot, and when I did tune in, it was mainly to see what the cute girl with the freckles was up to that week. And it was never anything interesting, like ‘striptease for beginners’ or ‘looking pouty for the camera’. So I lost interest pretty quickly.

(Okay, okay, so I probably wasn’t really thinking about such things at the time. I was a little young to be having that sort of fantasy about a girl on a kids’ show. That sort of thing came later, when I circled back to watch Shari Lewis and Lambchop. Sure, Shari was a little old for me at the time, but she beat the hell out of those ugly chicks on You Can’t Do That On Television. (And yes, music fans, that was pre-Alanis, if you happen to think she was hot at fourteen or so.) And you gotta give Shari points for perk. Any woman with a voice like that and her hand up a lamb’s ass is at least moderately hot, no matter how long she’s been around. Am I right, guys?

And anyway, I soon got wind of the Spanish-language kids’ shows, and turned over to those. Holy hell! Have you seen these things? They’re all bikini girls and confetti and dancing. I don’t know how the kids ever learn anything, but they kept me entertained, that’s for damned sure. You know, I hear women say that Latin men are some of the most… how to say it, aggressive and enthusiastic lovers, to the point of being frenetic, and sometimes starting fires from all the static and friction and such. But can you really blame them? Shit, they’re learning their ABC’s and uno-dos-tres from strippers at age five. Their version of Mister Rogers models wears fuck-me pumps and tasseled pasties. I think I’d be a little anxious for the rest of my entire damned life, too!)

All right, let’s whoosh back to Zoom for a moment.

So, on Wednesday the folks from Zoom are going to visit the place where our dog stays during the day. And she and one of the other pups are scheduled to help out with whatever the hell they’re going to do there. I don’t know — I don’t really have a lot of details. But I do know this — there’s a golden opportunity here. If this goes well, we can turn our penniless dog into a cash cow. Sure, we’ll get nothing from the Zoom folks — lousy public television non-profit goobers — but maybe, just maybe, our pooch will steal the show. And maybe some local real TV exec will be watching the show with their small child, and he or she will be mesmerized by this street-smart, sophisticated drooly canine, and then things will really take off. How, I don’t really know. The dog is still gonna be distracted by food, and the possibility of food, and shiny objects, and objects that might become shiny if someone would just clean them up and polish them. She’s flightier than Logan Airport on Christmas Eve. She loses focus faster than my near-sighted absent-minded grandma sitting on her bifocals — again. She’s… well, I think you get the picture.

So maybe the dog won’t become our ticket to the high life. Or maybe the Hollywood folks have some sort of training regimen, or wonder drug, that’ll transform her into an alert, focused acting machine. Whatever. Either way, the pup’s gonna be on Zoom, and that’ll be fun to watch. I’m definitely gonna tune in, and probably get it on tape, too. Hey, I wonder if that freckly girl is still on there? That’d be cool. She’d be in her mid-twenties by now, at least — maybe they’ll have her do that striptease bit, after all! How cool would that be? Now if I can just get the producers to have her put on a sock puppet and talk in a high, squeaky voice while she’s peeling down, then we’ll be getting somewhere!

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