Friday, July 11, 2008

The Shaggy Dog Tale; dog drives truck

I used to have a 1958 Chevrolet pickup truck. It was a straight-six, and what we called a “straight-stick”, i.e. a three-speed stick-shift on the steering column. The outside mirrors had been replaced with salvages off a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, the left cab window was an odd piece of Plexiglas, and there was a lot of other spit-and-gum improvisation.

The running boards were rusted away to the point of collapsibility with a single hard step. Aside from the basic black, the exterior finish had faded to obscurity.

On the other hand, this beast had a motor tighter than yo’ mama’s girdle, and with a decent set of tires, it was a bad motor scooter. We called something lacking such visual appeal a “traffic light sleeper”; race your motor on that hot sports car, and you might get jumped. The headlights both worked and pointed in the right direction, the muffler was proper, and the age of the vehicle precluded seatbelts, airbags, or parachutes. It was a farmhand who worked reliably, never complained, and never went on strike.

At the same time, I also had an Alsatian named Rommel. Alsatians are better known as German Shepherds, and I thought a noble dog deserved a noble name. (Don’t give me any Nazi crap, either! The name Guderian was in the mix. I just happen to admire tank commanders who do their duty, especially the brilliant ones.) Look it up, kids.

On a brilliant spring day, I’m suddenly Mr. Homemaker, dealing with a frozen, burst toilet in the back bedroom. I am not the best household tool under any occasion. This one required segments of PVC pipe, and glue, neither immediately at hand. ACE is the place, and I shouted my intentions to visit the helpful hardware man. My loving bride didn’t respond, as she was probably hiding from the nightmare of severed, spurting arteries from the hapless homemaker. Extraordinary clumsiness comes no extra charge with not being the sharpest pencil in the jar.

I get to the driveway, there’s my shot-out old Chevy, ready to go. A check of the jeans reveals a small wad of cash, but certainly enough for glue and pipe. Cool! Let’s boogie!

At the last second, Rommel walks up and gives me The Look. This is a dog who rode in a wooden orange crate on my motorcycle. I know The Look.


And I always stand aside for ladies boarding the train.

We get to town, a small place named Kennesaw, best known for the start of what came to be known as The Great Locomotive Chase during the War of Northern Aggression. They also became newsworthy for passing a controversial firearms ordinance in the 1980s. (Look it up, kids!)

There used to be an ACE hardware store in the small block of businesses directly downtown. I whipped into a parking spot directly across the street. I hopped out, and looked back. Rommel had already taken her customary position on the floor. The windows are all down in the cab.

“You okay, kiddo?” Tongue wag says yes. “Back in two.”

Three minutes later, I’m walking out of the hardware store with my PVC junk and some glue, and the truck’s gone!

Uncle Possum ain’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. I’m told I have good emergency response skills, but walking out of ACE hardware with a tube of glue and miscellaneous pipe junk is not a 9/11 response. Bag drops, and long-haired redneck stands staring with dropped jaw at where his old beater truck was parked.

The tension broke when a fellow passed moments later. Seeing my shock, he was cool. “You own a black pickup?”

“Uh huh. Did you see who stole it? My dog was inside.”

“It ain’t stole. It’s right over there [the other side of the town square], but I think it hit somebody.”

Indeed, the sheer rampaging ferocity of the truck had affected the back end of a newly minted Ford sedan, with very bad results.

The police department was so close they didn’t bother cranking a car. They walked. Corporal Ray gets there, he takes one look at my fine self and asks “Oh, what now?”

After ascertaining that there is no one in the sedan, I’m prying the door off the truck, shouting Rommel’s name. We have this very bizarre rear-end collision, but she’s laying on the floor communicating “It’s okay, dad.”

Actually, we had wrecked a ’78 Ford sedan. The truck has done havoc with the back end of a car, and the elderly owner has come racing out out of the neighborhood pharmacy. This is not cool, but a block and a half from the cop shop, the policeman comes walking up. It’s Corporal Ray, who knows me from the Kennesaw Business Association, where I defend my stable and mouth off at people.

“What’d you do, Bob?”

I’m standing there pointing at this poor woman’s car like a moron, and then say something incredibly stupid, as is my wont.

“The dog was driving.”

Rommel had leapt from the floor onto the seat. Along the way, she had banged that stick shift on the steering column. The truck jumped into neutral, and as it rolled backwards across the town square, witnesses swore Rommel was sitting behind the wheel steering the ancient Chevy.

While Ray wrote the tickets, we figured out the logistics of the doggie. I’m doubly humiliated, because I don’t have my wallet handy, with all the things cops like to see, like license, registration, and proof of insurance. Ray knows me, but this one doesn’t get a pass. It’s massive “fix-it-tickets”, and I’m advised to bring the offending pooch to court, as well as proof of insurance.

On the appointed day, chastened dog and embarrassed owner showed up. The judge kept his hand over his mouth to keep from laughing out loud. Rommel was instructed to not drive again, and after license, insurance, etc. and gladly paying for the lady’s car, I got to walk on that one.

I beat these modern guys out. I may be dumber than my dogs, but my dog was driving in the 1970s.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

"It's Not What I Want!"

It's like Tombstone, Virgil Earp shouting outside the OK Corral. At least I got onto the blog after 48 hours of cursing and keyboard trickery.

What an ordeal trying to get back on this blog! “User account does not exist.” “Invalid password.” “Not an existing Blogger™ domain”. I jumped through hoops and had to create three e-mail accounts that I don’t use just to correct a single letter’s typing error on my sign-in user name, and that was when the Google monster was taking this fine service over, as they’re taking over the rest of the Internet that Bill Gates doesn’t already own. Hey, kids here’s a warning from Uncle Possum that doesn’t include the caveat to stay away from “My Space” or other predators’ happy hunting grounds: I’m old enough to remember the original Monopoly™ board game, back in the day when we played with the awkward paper money, the little green houses, red motels, and those cool metal board characters. Highly interactive, as we say these days. The game was fun—still is—and ol’ Possum was good at it. Here comes your warning, short and sweet: when one of these moronic, arrogant corporations finally whips everyone and establishes a monopoly over our beloved Internet, you ain’t going to like it! Think about those $4+ at the pumps, the e-mail and texting you take for granted, your ISP, and those groovy I-tunes. There is a connection, believe me. When some mindless, out-sourced corporation without a posted online telephone number has total dominance of what we consider “free speech” domains, a lot of voices are going to fall silent. I’m scared of Google™, so just go back to the top of this paragraph, read what kept popping up for 48 hours on HAL-9000, and think about it.

I’m what my employers called a “synthesist”. I look at things from odd angles, and approach them from what has become the cliché “outside the envelope”. I too often speak cryptically, thinking people will instantly grasp and understand what I’m babbling about. I ramble on, they get bored, and fall asleep. (I attribute this strange “gift” to excessive drug and alcohol abuse when I was a totally reckless young fool. Quantities of LSD were involved, and I promise you no matter what Timothy Leary said, it isn’t the best path to spiritual enlightenment. Don’t mess with the hard-wiring in your skull, be calm and patient, and a lot of mystical and wonderful stuff may come your way.) Strangely, none of that psychedelic business ever interfered with the secret item in my résumé. Going a bit circumspect, I hit a wild pig in Yemen on the run at 800+ meters offhand—no support on the rifle—from my wheelchair. I fired across a military target range, which got me sent home, but: the MREs were terrible, and the pig roast was fantastic!

This is not the kind of thing you tell people in The States if you’re looking for a job. The skill came naturally; some of its applications still keep me up at night.

This was not at all what I had perceived for a holiday post. The politics have driven me mad and put the boredom meter into the red. I’ll have a few words on that, but not until about November. The crime and savagery on the streets have my jaw popping and the teeth clenching; thank God my kids are adults, and they accepted their birthday gifts of Sig Sauer 9mm P-232 purse pistols, and got some range time.

I meant to tell—or retell—a shaggy dog story. Back in the 1970s, I had an Alsatian [German Shepherd] who went for a drive in my 1958 Chevy pickup. I was watching a hilarious episode of one of my favorite series, “Word’s Dumbest”, on TRU TV, and they had a guy on surveillance camera with a dog who was smarter than he was. I thought it might be a cute thing to re-tell, but the Google™ monster has been whipping me like the proverbial red-headed stepchild. When they begin truly silencing voices for their own agenda, I will be one of the first to go.

I’ll flog the dog story into readable form, and hopefully have it up here in the next few days. The technical glitches were apparently “corrupt cookies”; minor housekeeping in this ancient, wheezing machine seems to have solved the problem.

For the lady from Australia, if you’re still checking in here, that last post was a sarcastic joke. The southern USA is overfilled with people who think—if we can call it that—seriously in that direction. I don’t care to start slap-and-cuss fights on the rare occasions I get out, and since my boredom meter redlines so swiftly, I just start grinning and yapping about how we all fell off the UFO.

The only Caucasian I know of—look it up—is Joseph Stalin, and he wasn’t a very nice guy. The rest of us are put here by God, and most of us have a purpose.