My sister was known in her day as a great hula-hoop talent. She probably could have gone pro, although I admit this all happened before I knew her, or before I was old enough to remember. Anyway, one of the great joys of parenthood is watching your child’s talents emerge, and I’ve been waiting for Kate’s to come along. We can already see a couple — she’s a good writer, for instance, imagine that — but I’m waiting for the prodigy-level gifts for music or athletics that will allow her to become rich, world-famous and, most important, able to support us in our old age.
I think we’ve found it; she has inherited her aunt’s ability to keep that thing going for minutes on end. As soon as hula-hooping becomes eligible for Title IX scholarships, we’ll at least have college covered.
The dog isn’t the only one who pudged up a bit in the past year. He didn’t have the long walks he was used to, and gained maybe a pound or two, which I didn’t notice until I buckled on his life jacket the other weekend, and …
(Yes, in case you’re wondering, I *can* hear myself. A dog with a life jacket. While children starve.)
Anyway, it occurred to me it wouldn’t hurt either of us to get back on our regular dog-walking routes, about a mile or so each in all directions from our house. So off we trotted south on Indiana, a few blocks we know well, but of course, it’s been a while. Some houses have been painted, some trees have been cut down, and what’s this? It’s an older woman who’s been there for years, only…she’s changed. She’s sitting on the front porch, hair wild and uncombed, drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon. At first I thought it was a man, but no.
I remember when Sprig was a pup, she was your basic neighborhood old lady. She’d call him over and pet him and talk about her own terrier. This time she called him over and sort of petted him drunkenly. “Where’s your dog?” I asked. “He…died,” she said in a small voice. Somehow, I got the idea the rest of it — the transformation to the sort of old lady who no longer combs her hair and drinks PBRs on the stoop — is related to the dog’s exit.
Anyway, we walked on. The dog pooped three times. Afterward he looked five pounds thinner.
Linkage: The other day, when Mike Ditka’s name was being floated as a possible Senate candidate, I remarked to a friend that the Republicans have reached their decadent phase, like the left was c. 1970 or so, when Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman were considered intellectuals and had book deals. Well, I was wrong. It can still get far, far worse, like, when Ditka opts to keep his hat on his head and the next name we hear is …Ted Nugent.
(My question: Wouldn’t he have to relocate from Michigan?)
Alex wrote something nice this week about the Jeffries Cemetery in Whitley County, which he visited recently and which, depending on who you talk to, is or isn’t an African-American graveyard from the 19th century. A few years ago, Fort Wayne hosted a national genealogical conference, and a reporter from our paper talked to a woman who was researching black families, in part by visiting the Jeffries Cemetery, where, she said, many were buried.
The phone rang early the next morning, from a highly irritated woman saying, hello, those are my relatives and I’m not black. The photos of the people in question were, to my eye, unequivocal — Negroid features and hair, the whole bit. It turns out they were probably Melungeon, mixed-blood people born of black slaves, Native Americans and southern Europeans. It all seemed like a quibble, but this area is rural and people are still tetchy about such things.
If Seymour Hersh is right, we are so screwed.
If you and your spouse haven’t swapped domestic duties lately, give it a try. With Alan running the kitchen these days, I’m making all sorts of new discoveries. He brought home Hebrew National hot dogs the other day, which I never buy because they’re more expensive. Alan has a different rationale: “I figured there were fewer dicks ‘n’ lips in ’em.” Anyway, I’m kicking myself for not buying them myself — they’re the best franks I’ve had in years, and what a great slogan. “We answer to a higher power.” Mmmm.