Editor-san reports a clamor at my absence, so I figured I had better get on the stick, even questioning the presence of anything clamorous. A susurration, perhaps, maybe even a faint buzz; but whatever it is, I’m just glad somebody misses me. And on the subject of missing, if you’ve noticed me absent on Facebook it’s because after attempting to log on one day several weeks ago, I received, rather than entreé into my virtual living room, a stern notice (which I couldn’t help but read in an imperious and officious German accent) saying Your account has been disabled. Kindly pack your things and leave the premises. I understand Myspace has a few vacancies, maybe try there. I don’t care, though. Just get out of here. Or something like that.
What’s odd, though, is that this is a permanent, lifetime ban, and that they won’t, despite several entreaties, tell me what I’m supposed to have done to deserve it. As far as I know I have never violated any policy or ordinance of theirs, so I suppose it’s the work of what the kids call haters, or people antagonistically positioned toward one who often employ passive-aggressive strategies (like dissing in a rap song or getting someone kicked off Facebook) to express their displeasure at someone’s existence.
In my day, if we didn’t like someone we either ignored them or confronted them and hadn’t the luxury of petty revenge from a safe distance, and if we had would have considered it a real pussy thing to do.
It’s a new world, though, one where the escalation in an argument misses a crucial step on its way to a terminal and tragic denouement. All too often, conflict goes straight from online sniping to gunplay, leaving out the logical, assertive, and appropriate action of looking someone in the eye and telling them why you’re angry and what you intend doing about it. A fistfight between two willing people with a legitimate beef can be a cleansing and therapeutic tool, giving the participants both pride at having valiantly defended their position and respect for their opponent for doing the same. Many of my strongest friendships began with fisticuffs and I’m certain most folks of a certain age would have similar stories. Anyhoo, I was forced to resort to an alias to get back on and am now on a mish to reassemble all my friends. They saw through the first three and re-banished me for “suspicious activity” but somehow “Finn Washburn” has slipped through the cracks. Any former or potential friends can find me under that name.
You may recall my last transmission in which I outlined, rather rashly, my intent to both quit the poison and to document the withdrawal/recovery process. Turns out I was just a tad overoptimistic on both counts. Day One was a breeze, as predicted, there being such a surfeit of chemical in my system that I was able to run on reserve for the rest of the day. On Day Two the real misery set in, with nausea, headache, joint pain, complete lack of motor skills gross and fine, and crippling despair the order of the day. Day Three I felt fine, mostly due to a generous reapplication of exactly the substance that got me into that condition. I went on like that for a few days until my disgust at myself for my weakness got me back on track.
For eight days I toughed it out, and the very day that I felt completely human and ready to rejoin the world at large, even going to the gym and enjoying a (albeit mild) workout, I relapsed yet again. So it’s been for the last ten days, but apparently the decision has been made for me, as the stuff has stopped working. Two days ago I began feeling exactly as if I had stopped, eating everything in sight and falling asleep every time I stopped moving, all the while still shoveling it into my system like a stoker on a steam engine. I believe my body made a command decision in the interest of survival and simply stopped obeying the chemical dictates of the drug, saying: Enough, jackass, is enough. You’re going to die and nobody likes you. I’m running this show now. Get your ass in bed and I don’t want to hear another word about it.
So I’m back on Day One and glad to be, even presupposing the attendant misery of the upcoming weeks. I’m not going to waste any more money if it’s not going to do its job. Without the pathologically intense focus on pointless pursuits and slavering concupiscence it’s just plain poison, and there’s no point in doing that. I’m tired of talking about it anyway, and I’m sure you all are tired of hearing about it.
Some magazine editor of the distant past said something along the lines of, Put a dog, a baby, or a pretty girl on the cover and it doesn’t matter what’s inside. In an abrupt and unexpected shift of focus and theme, I am now going to tell you about a subject close to my heart: the dogs of Pi Ranch. There are five, three Yorkies and two McNabs, Mendocino’s own homegrown breed, a herding dog known for its rambunctious nature, intelligence, energy, loyalty, protective instincts, and batshit craziness. An apt combination of traits for a Mendo native, no? Rin and Dew, five-year old brothers never separate for more than a matter of hours, typify the McNab profile neatly, as well as those of serial murderers and rodeo clowns. They can be seen most days trotting around the property in lockstep, looking for something to kill, and finding nothing, turn on each other in a terrifying display of canine aggression which is forgotten immediately upon being separated and they go back to being partners. The reason they can’t find any prey is that they got so good at it—working as a team and employing some scarily effective tactics—that word went out on the varmint hotline to steer clear of the place. They enjoy killing immensely and seem to do it only for the love of it, leaving their victims in pieces on the lawn but still mostly complete.
They compete for everything. Food, attention, space, beds, toys, whatever one has the other must immediately try to take it away and then all thought of whatever was in dispute goes out the window as they concentrate on tearing each other’s throats out. Dew is by the far the superior physical specimen, muscular and agile, but Rin is smarter and more devious and has assumed the alpha role in their dyad. He loves to humiliate his brother with little dominance tactics like peeing on him, sitting on his head (I used to do that to my little brother), and showing affection. Apparently this is a huge dis in the dog world, because when Rin sidles up and starts licking him, Dew looks like a torture victim getting ready for the third round of genital electrocution and emits a low-frequency growl the entire time.
A good indicator of their respective personalities would be the manner in which they beg. They are both relentless, but Rin goes the classic route, opening his big blue eyes wide and cocking his head charmingly, as if to say See how cute I am? How about some of that pizza? It’s worth some pizza, right? Dew, on the other hand, gets right up in your face stares you down with a look of mad intensity that quite clearly means: I want some of whatever you have, and if I don’t get it something is going to happen. I don’t know what and I don’t know why but just to be safe gimme some. I’ve never been a big fan of lapdogs, or anything that gets pampered, really, and consider them emblematic of conspicuous consumption and the effete upper-class notion that paying a great deal of money to purchase something that does nothing but irritate other people is somehow a good idea. Those little Poms and Pekes and what have you, the yappy little puffballs who don’t like anyone but whomever’s purse they’re riding around in and will express that toothily, the ones who don’t fetch or play Frisbee or do anything interesting at all, who are so fussy about food that many owners will cook them special meals of people food, they may technically be dogs; but I would, given a Linnaean mandate, classify them under order Rodentia and have done with the whole business. I like my dogs to swallow first and ask questions later, to be friends with all humanity, and above all to protect ME, not the other way ’round. Then I met a dog named Giggy, a stalwart little Yorkie with the heart of a lion. He doesn’t weigh much more than a roll of nickels, but I have never met a more fearless specimen. Gig is a true Defender Of The People, marching about the property righting wrongs and regulating like a boss. When the big dogs get to scrapping, he charges over at top speed and hurls his little body at the boiling melee, heedless of his own safety and caring only to maintain order at any cost. Distress calls from his mate or son get the same code-red response and woe betide anyone who makes them squeal, accidentally or not. Gig doesn’t want to hear excuses, he just wants to put a reasonable number of tooth-holes in your leg to give you something to think about next time you have a small dog underfoot. There is a German shepherd next door the size of an adolescent rhinoceros who could literally dispatch Gig in a single bite — he can, will and does eat an entire pizza in 10 seconds — and Gig goes over to harass him through the fence several times a day. Marshall, the shepherd, doesn’t seem to take him seriously but I’m pretty sure that if he ever got out and came over here, Gigs would either kick his ass or die trying. He has a habit of posing in an incredibly heroic stance, body rigid, all four pins straight and canted at a slightly obtuse angle, head up and sniffing the wind for trouble, that pretty much sums up this valiant little fellow. Gracie, the mother of his child, is more of a shrinking violet, having been trampled by Rin and Dew as a pup and nearly cashing in her chips before even getting housebroken. The vets were able to patch her up but she’s never quite gotten over the trauma, rolling up like a pill-bug whenever anyone approaches on her vector and looking as pitiable as a Dickens orphan. There was some question as to whether she was fit for motherhood, which is why, when she went into heat early last summer and I was taking care of things around here for a week, I was instructed to keep Gig away from her. I tried, but danged if that resourceful little horn-dog didn’t penetrate my defenses and have his way with little Gracie. You just can’t stop a boss. To everyone’s surprise, she rose to the occasion, delivering with the ease of a seasoned Bengali prostitute and caring for the younguns attentively and tenderly. It was a litter of two and one went on the block. Both were supposed to go, but machinations were afoot from the beginning, and somehow little Goji has wound up a permanent resident, much to the joy of most people around here. There is a small dissenting faction but we’re convinced they’ll come around eventually. They’ll have to or else get tested for robot insides because Goji is so dangerously cute as to be literally irresistible — to humans, anyway. That’s the gang — little ball of cuteness Goji, sweet, damaged Gracie, mini-stud Gig, and the crazy McNab brothers Rin and Dew. There’s nothing like coming home after a day or two out doing whatever it is I do, feeling like the scum on top of an untended sewage pond, and finding them there welcoming me back into the pack. They greet me joyously, sniff me suspiciously (all my dog-owning friends have pit bulls), and remind me of one of the many, many reasons not to throw my life away in the manner I’ve chosen. Wish me luck, campers.