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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Chum

Chum: (n) a close friend.

I was twenty-three years old before I realized there were gay people. I had been told they were perverts. Matter of fact, the American Psychiatric Association confirmed this to us publicly, making us feel our squeamishness was justified by their diagnosis.

I mention this because life marches on, and if you want to lay down and object, be prepared to have boot prints on your face.

When I was ten years old I had a friend. Let’s call him Timmy. No, let’s not. That brings up the idea that he had a dog named Lassie. Let’s
call him Frankie. That’s got a nice Brooklyn feel to it.

Frankie was my chum. Frankie was my devoted companion. Frankie hung out. Frankie defended me when other people said I was a fat pig. Frankie liked me.

Now, as I look back at it, I realize Frankie loved me.

Frankie always wanted to come over, spend the night and sleep in the same bed. That wasn’t weird when you were a kid–you could punch each other and joke around, but he always, by morning, cuddled up to my back.

When I was twenty-three, along with discovering gay people, I also realized that Frankie was one of them. I was probably Frankie’s first love. ¬†An unrequieted one.

Because when I turned twelve, my gyroscope pointed toward pretty girls. Shortly after that I never saw Frankie again. Matter of fact, I don’t even know where Frankie is.

I hope he’s happy.

I hope he found someone who was worthy of his devotion.

And I hope that person is grateful to have Frankie cuddling up to him.

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