All In The Focus

I came out of the restaurant after a farewell luncheon for a co-worker from the office. I heard a voice calling from across the street. I ignored it. It called again. I looked. I didn’t recognize the woman. I assumed she meant someone else. I kept walking. The voice got louder. Then I heard the woman call my name. I stopped. I looked across the street again.

It was my daughter.

How embarrassing!

Okay, I was wearing dark glasses and that always mutes the colors.

Plus she was in the shadow.  cropped-img_0711.jpg

But my own daughter?

Alf tells me when I focus on things, I only see in front of my face.

I guess I’m that bad.

I think it has a lot to do with expectations. I wasn’t expecting to see my daughter, therefore I didn’t recognize her.

Now I know how magicians do it.

It’s all in the focus.

And when they get me looking at something else, out pops the struggling bunny from the top hat.

Meanwhile there’s a snake slithering across my feet.

Calvin says, “For me it’s my nose. The whole world stops while the scent lures me to the wild side.” beagle

 

Bringing Up Kate

We just returned from our annual trek to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.

They’re dumbing down Will. In an effort to appeal to a younger generation, this year they’re serving up The Taming of the Shrew in a boardwalk setting with the cast in 50’s diner costumes and a live band on stage.

Petruchio, wearing Elvis hair and Country-Western garb, struts and swaggers his way into Kate’s life, with the help of her father, and begins to deconstruct her until she’s a pliable and submissive bride.   Screen shot 2013-05-11 at 2.46.42 PM

His tactics? Starvation and sleep deprivation.

Okay, it was the way Will wrote it, so nothing new here.

Underneath the tantrums, Kate sees the shallow lives around her. She’s smart, quick witted, capable. She isn’t going to settle for stupid. But there isn’t a man worthy of her. The suitors that come courting are besotted with Bianca, Kate’s sister, who personifies a beauty as airy as meringue.

In contrast, Kate is a ferocious woman. No doubt prompted by her father’s lack of affection because he too favors his younger daughter. Nobody that comes to woo Bianca is Kate’s type.  She would squash them like bugs. What Kate needs is a man, not a limp fashionista.

Petruchio rises to the challenge. He is confident and determined. He takes Kate to be his wife and disciplines her so she grows up to be the woman she is meant to be.

It’s an interesting story for today’s young audiences who have been brought up on reality TV with all its raw vulgarities and blurring of the sexes.

Traditional values between a man and a woman still play well.

Deep down we resonate with it whether we admit or not.

Calvin said, “I would have used other ways to mature Kate, like licking her face and rubbing my nose in her hair.”  beagle

 

 

 

Dynamite Comes in Small Packages

We had lunch with friends today. A young couple with their two daughters. Alice is 5-years old and brilliant. She showed off her nail polished hands and said, “I had them done by a professional.” Then she pulled out a snowflake from her pocket, unfolded it and announced, “See how symmetrical it is?”

I want to know what they’re feeding this kid to eat.

Her father asked Alf if he’d like to babysit Alice sometime. “She cleans toilets,” he said.

“You do?” Alf said.

“Yes, I do,” Alice said. cropped-img_0446.jpg

“I have six toilets,” Alf said.

Alice’s eyes widened. “You do?”

“Yes, and they’re all around the dining room table.”

Alice pondered that.

“Well, I have two,” she said rather seriously and then broke into a smile. “You’re a lot of fun,” she said to Alf.

This kid isn’t five. She’s twenty-five in kid’s skin.

Alice reads, writes, paints, and carries on a conversation better than some adults I know.

It doesn’t hurt that her parents are brilliant, too.

Calvin says, “If parents would only realize that kids are people, too. Just like us pups. We come out of the chute fully formed. Only our ears need growing.” beagle

 

The Street Crazies Aren’t Always People

My everyday morning commute to work is your typical jammed-packed-full-of-bodies-on-a-train experience. Nothing romantic or inspirational about it. I serves me well for characters in a story, for recording dialogue, and for picking up nuances of personality.

This morning, however, I met a character that made me laugh out loud.

His name is Buddy.

But Buddy is no ordinary personage.

He’s an English bulldog with panache.

I’ve seen Buddy before. He’s usually on the other side of the street with his owner, in an enclosed area between two buildings, barking at an orange ball the size of a watermelon. His owner is usually on his cell phone, so Buddy has to wait to get his attention. Hence the barking. Then his owner kicks the ball and Buddy waddles after it with more barking. His barking sounds more like snapping with a smoker’s voice. It echoes down the street and commands attention.

This morning I heard the snapping before I saw Buddy. This time he was on my side of the street. I rushed to catch up to him.

Buddy didn’t have his orange ball. Instead he was cruising down the street on a skateboard. 

That’s when I laughed out loud.

I caught up to him at the curb waiting for a car to clear the street. Buddy seems to know about streets and curbs and traffic because he was waiting patiently there. His skateboard had flipped over, exposing the four orange wheels. It seems orange is Buddy’s favorite color. He snapped and gnawed on one of the wheels.

“Flip it over,” his owner said.

Buddy barked with frenzy.

“Come on, Buddy, flip it over,” the man said.

Buddy opened his mouth, bit down on the wheel he was conversing with, and with a turn of his head, flipped the skateboard onto its right side. Then he nudged it with his nose, which in his case was his entire face, and pushed it across the street, which by now was empty of cars. Once on the next street, Buddy hopped on, peddled with his front right leg, gathered speed, then climbed on for the ride.

“How did you teach him to do this?” I asked the owner, a man as strong and street smart as Buddy.

“He taught himself. One day he got on it, and it’s been his thing ever since,” he said.

I looked up and Buddy had hopped off just in time before the skateboard crashed into a tree. It flipped over.

Apparently Buddy knows about trees, too.

“He’s getting good exercise,” I said.

“Yea, I’m hoping it will lengthen his life. His breed doesn’t live long, eight to ten years. Maybe with all the exercise he’ll live to be twelve,” the man said.

Then he added, as if talking more to himself than to me. “I don’t know what I’ll do without him. I like him better than people.”

Calvin says, “Buddy sounds deranged. Skateboarding? That’s like a beagle zip-lining with his nose. I’m also not happy sharing top billing with this creature.”

A Soul For Sale

A dialogue between two women in a restaurant. The tables were so close I couldn’t help eavesdrop.

“Someone’s selling her soul on eBay.”

“Does she have a good rating?”

“Yea, people are bidding.”

“What format is it in?”

“She just got out of a coma.”

“Is that with free shipping?”

“She’s crying for help.”

“Does eBay allow therapy?”

“All those gurus. There would be a bidding war.”

“Can you reach her by email?”

“I think so.”

“Write this poor soul before the bidding closes.”

Calvin says, “Hey, that’s an idea. Instead of donating my nose to science when I die, I’ll sell it on eBay. The bidding wars would skyrocket.”

How To Talk To a Spoiled Dog

Dear Calvin,

Did you get any responses for a new owner?

They’d be crazy to take you on.

You’re spoiled. Pampered. Set in your ways.

Opinionated. (That’s an understatement.) Stubborn. (Another understatement.)

You don’t listen. Obey is a foreign word to you.

You hate baths.

You eat too much.

Your breath smells.

Those are the things I love best about you.

You’re a full blown personality in fur and floppy ears.

Life would be dull without you.

Walks would be a bore without you tugging at your leash. I could let you off-leash, but that’s where the obey thing comes into play. I’ve given you plenty of lessons on how to come back to me when I call, but you usually have other plans, and scare the hell out of me while you disappear under fences, through neighbors’ backyards, and across streets in search of that wild thing your nose tells you is in the neighborhood. (It’s a child in a dirty diaper.)

You think somebody else will put up with your antics? Ha!

So you stick to your opinions and I’ll stick to mine.

We’ll continue to get along just fine.

Calvin says, “Touché. How’s that for a foreign word, eh? All right. I’ll cancel my ad in the classifieds.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh Oh. Calvin Sounds Off.

I wasn’t my perky self today.

Maybe I’m not perky, but that’s my vision of myself. I strive to live up to it.

Today I was feeling blue.

A lot of drama going on with my relatives including health problems, relationship break-ups, worries about the future. I was thinking about all these when a colleague of mine popped in the door in my office.

“What’s new with you?” Agnes said.

“Oh, you know, the usual drama – health, romance, money,” I said.

“That’s nothing,” she said with a laugh. “In my family, I have people in prison, people that should be in prison, a daughter who’s running a muck, my dog is costing me a fortune in meds every month –  I look at him and think, I should put wheels on him, he’s more expensive than a new car. Then there’s my husband with the implants in his mouth, except they can’t put them in until his mouth heals from the infection he has. I squeeze his cheeks and say, ‘That’s my new car in there.'”

Then she gave me a hug.

“Feel better now?” she said and walked out.

Hmm…I was feeling better after hearing what she has to live with.

Then the thought hit me. I made her feel better, too by giving her an opportunity to download her life for a moment.

Glad I could listen.

Calvin says, “Her attitude toward her dog stinks. We work our tails off being good companions. We devote ourselves to listening, to loving, to obeying you. Well, maybe not to obeying – hey, nobody’s perfect – and this is the thanks we get? Where’s the devotion back? I thought this was a lifetime commitment. From breeder to the grave, that sort of thing. I’m hurt. Truly hurt. This revelation is shocking. I expected better. And don’t try buttering me up by tossing me a bone or taking me for a walk to my favorite place where all the trash cans are. I’m offended. Does anybody out there want an opinionated beagle?”