Collie

Collie: (n) a sheepdog of a breed originating in Scotland

I was eleven years old before I realized they were not supposed to stink.

I’m talking about dogs.

Up to that point, I knew one dog–and this dog stunk. Ironically, her name was “Queenie.” Any pomp and circumstance associated with that name were purely accidental. She stunk. I could tell very time I drew near.

And near I drew.

Queenie was my Grandpa George’s animal. She was his favorite beast, person and thing.

Queenie felt great security in her job, and so pursued no personal hygiene. Half the day she wandered through the woods, living the life of a wild dog, to come
home to the little A-frame house as night was falling, to spend time with my grandpa.

I had jobs to do with Queenie. I kept praying that my grandpa would get old enough that he would become forgetful, and therefore fail to remember to ask me to do the job.

It was a two-parter.

Because Queenie was a collie, she had long fur which might have been lovely had it not been matted with dirt and grime, and filled with little stickers (which my grandpa referred to as “nettles”).

Grandpa wanted me to sit there during the visit, with Queenie’s snout lying in my lap, stinking up the room, and remove these little thistles from her fur. That was the first part.

The second part was that Queenie was a wild-type dog, and did not know how to get all the poop out of her butt with each bowel movement. So dangling from her backside were little sprinkles of dried turds, which Grandpa allowed me to remove by snipping them off with a small pair of scissors.

I will give Queenie one kudo: she never objected to any of the processes. Matter of fact, it reached a point that whenever I came into the room, she came over and laid her head on my knee, awaiting the treatment.

She smelled like everything bad that no one should ever inhale.

Her nettles always yanked out little pieces of hair, and the clippings from the back end–well, fortunately, time has healed me of the vision (as long as I don’t talk about it).

That is my experience with a collie. So you can see why, under no circumstances whatsoever, could I enjoy watching “Lassie.”

 

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Collar

Collar: (n) a band of material around the neck of a shirt, dress, coat, or jacket

Feeling very comfortable with my interactions with a dear young lady, I explained to her that I preferred collarless shirts. She listened intently,
coming very close to feigning interest.

I explained that the collar rubbed against my neck–itched–and when I sweat, made my skin burn.

It was further aggravated if I inserted a tie into the shirt, needing to fasten that top button. She listened and listened. She even smiled a couple of times.

At the end of the conversation, when I felt I had thoroughly explained the reasons for my preference, she walked over and looked around my neck and said, “I don’t think the collar is your problem.”

I was stupefied. (Well, at least confused.)

I said, “Okay… What is my problem?”

“You just have a really, really dirty neck,” she said.

I was offended. I suppose there were other choices available to me, but fortunately, she stepped in and offered to wash my neck for me so I would understand that my skin was soiled and therefore overly sensitive.

So she got a sudsy washcloth and gently rubbed my neck until it was clean. I was embarrassed, enticed, curious, dumbfounded and a little turned on.

She finished washing my neck, dried it with a clean towel and put some lotion on it.

She was right.

I never had another problem wearing a shirt with a collar.

The only problem was scheduling the times for her to come and wash my neck.

 

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Club

Club: (n) an organization dedicated to a particular interest or activity.

It reminds me of Dickie. He was a friend of mine.

Dickie had one thing he was very proud of–he loved to dupe adults. He explained this to me one day. He said the key to tricking grown-ups
was finding out what they wanted, and then discovering a way to do it which was more fun.

For instance, Dickie had a lot of dirt clods in his back yard. We used them to throw at each other, playing war and anticipating what it might be like to be hit with a hand grenade.

Dickie’s mother came out in horror and told us to stop throwing them, saying that we would certainly destroy an eye–or at least sully our pretty shirts.

Dickie waited about thirty minutes, then went in and said to his mother, “Mom, maybe it would be a good idea if we got rid of all that dirt and those dirt clods, and dumped them in the nearby woods.”

She thought it was a grand idea, and even offered some bushel baskets that had recently held apples. So Dickie and I went out, collected dirt clods in the bushel baskets, escaped into the trees–and continued our game.

God, we felt smart.

We had our own little club which we had formed, and was built around the notion that since we were the honorary members, it confirmed that we were more intelligent than others.

From that point on, I have wondered if it is possible to separate oneself off from the mass of humanity into smaller and smaller units and clubs without promoting a sense of superiority and propagating a cloud of bigotry.

Does the Methodist feel superior to the Baptist as he drives by on the way to his church?

Does the white man feel empowered when he passes through the black neighborhood and sticks his nose up at the urban blight, touting that he’s part of the Caucasian Club?

Here’s a frightening and perhaps intimidating thought–we’re all part of one club, and that’s human beings.

Breaking us down any further and insisting that the differences are imperative and unique makes us just about as dumb as a bushel basket of dirt clods.

 

 

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Churn

Churn: (v) to move about vigorously.

It all depends what you disrupt.

If you stir up and churn milk and have the patience to stay with it, you get creamy, sweet butter. On the other hand, you can probably sit all
day long churning dirt, and even if you add water, you will end up with muddy conclusions.

It isn’t always effective to motivate people or circumstances. If there is quality, intelligence, spirit and humility, then churning can bring about a beautiful, natural change.

But if people are stubborn, angry, racist and ignorant, churning normally initiates violence.

You’ve got to judge your circumstances.

Is there enough milk of human kindness in the people you’re dealing with to see them turn into butter?

 

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Brown

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Brown: (n) a color produced by mixing red, yellow, and blue, as of dark wood or rich soil.

Dirt is brown. Actually, more like soil.

Hair can be brown. Some people get nasty and call it “mousey brown.”

So I guess that means a mouse can be brown, although many of them are gray.Dictionary B

Tree bark’s brown. Which means some wood is brown. Some isn’t.

Eyes can be brown. Matter of fact they can be quite attractive when they are, though for some reason we extol blue.

Poop is brown, unless you’re sick or ate at an Indian restaurant.

But when I sat down and thought about brown, I realized that the times I’ve heard brown mentioned were never particularly favorable. Like I asked some guy what color his TV set was. He replied, “Well, it’s kind of an ugly brown, but you’re not gonna look at the casing anyway. You’re going to watch TV.”

Is brown ugly?

After all, if you have a pair of brown shoes, you can’t wear them with black. And they don’t look good with white. You can kind of wear them with beige and darker, right?

What happened to brown?

Was it targeted?

Or did it just try to add too many colors to itself and end up with mush?

Is mush brown?

No–it’s kind of “yellowish.”

Which brings up the term “brownish.” Is that a good thing?

How about brown skin? Does it suffer from the traditions of prejudice?

Or did it just lose favor because people don’t like brown?

 

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Broom

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Broom: (n) a long-handled brush of bristles or twigs used for sweeping.

I know what a broom is.

I have seen one.Dictionary B

I could even identify one at a distance.

If sent into a large room to find it, I would be successful in no time at all.

Yet I really don’t know anything about a broom.

I’ve had one thrust in my direction with belligerent orders to “help clean up.” But I’ve always been a little bit of a loss as to what the correct process is in “brooming.”

I’ve seen people take short, brusque strokes–like they were angry at the floor or infuriated with the dirt.

Then I’ve seen people take long, easy passing with the broom, sweeping up the dirt gently in front of them.

There are brooms that work sideways.

There are brooms that work up and down.

(I guess that’s it.)

But I am a little embarrassed to admit that my “broomsmanship” has been lacking, partially because I’m lazy, but mostly because when I tried to use one, a nearby competitor (normally a female) would snatch it from my hands because I was failing to be reverent.

She’d demonstrate and then hand it back to me, and rapscallion that I am, I would realize that if I could simulate an additional failure, in no time at all she would insist I was incompetent and do the job herself.

It always worked.

I’m embarrassed to share it with you.

But I must be honest–I have no great stories about “brooming”–only being able to tell you that I can identify one.

 

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Beet

Beet: (n) an edible root that is typically dark red, spherical and eaten as a vegetable.Dictionary B

We have a tendency to prefer things above ground to things that are in the ground.

In other words, we like apples better than beets. Apples grow on trees from pretty stems and beets dwell in the dirt.

It’s just the way we are.

Sometimes I feel that analyzing human behavior is an exercise in futility which can only make you feel desperate or self-righteous. So here’s what I’ve learned to do:

Since beets have a texture which is halfway between a potato and a pear, and they are as sweet to the taste as any plum, I just served them to my kids.

They were naturally frightened at first.

Matter of fact, they looked askance in my direction, as if I was attempting to poison them or make them outcasts from the general population of “kiddom.” After all, how would they ever be able to admit to their friends that they had consumed a beet?

I did explain to them that beets are used to make sugar, so that means they come from a sweet place. And I made sure to place the beets next to a hot dog dish of their favoring.

So to some degree, I think my children learned to enjoy beets, or at least tolerate them when they found themselves dining in my proximity.

For after all, you have to admire a food which has to dig its way out of the ground to land on a dinner plate. Many such organisms having humble beginnings just decide to die in their earthen homes.

Not the beet.

It is prepared to be consumed and relished by anyone who is willing to consider something … a little “off-beet.”

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