A Father Story: Chapter 7

The Famous Dachshund

Sometime in the mid-nineties I had related how the Favorite Dachshund lost the chance to be a Father Dachshund in a short story titled “The Prodigal Dog.” Having had over twenty years to think it over, I now realize that was a bad title. Unlike the Prodigal Son, the Family Dog did not come to his senses in a pigsty. He never entered the pigsty in the first place, so there was no question of him coming to his senses.

CensusWhen we finally found him nine days after he had fled the canine bedchamber, the Family Dachshund was leading a privileged existence as the guest of a dispensary in an affluent housing society. He had no inclination to return to the humbler Family Dwelling of yore.

And who could blame him? We did not allow him to sit on the sofa, but here he was installed in the most comfortable seat the dispensary possessed – and remember this was an affluent society. The seat was made of the best Rexine money could buy, and padded to boot. The patients patiently remained standing so the Fatigued Dachshund could remain seated.

Of course we adored him, but there were only five of us and we couldn’t do it 24/7. At the dispensary, he was surrounded by constant streams of worshipful masses. Doctors, nurses, patients, neighbors, maids, watchmen, and even the odd rickshawalla all came to pay homage to the Fabled Dachshund. Some stood and gazed in silent admiration, some genuflected in reverent awe, and some collapsed prostrate with screams of Frenzied Devotion. Such star power did the Famous Dachshund exude that they had named him Ringo.downloadFor weeks afterwards he refused to answer to any other name, even though in his pre-traumatic stress days he had answered to any name if there was food involved. But we were so thrilled to have him back that we were willing to call him Ringo, and we even let him sit in the rocking chair. He eventually started responding to his own name, but he never stopped sitting in the rocking chair.

Ch 7

 

 

 

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The Plot Story: Chapter 2

The Prodigal Godson

So I couldn’t sue Winkie for psychological damage because I’m insanely sane. On the contrary, according to an email I received following “The Definition of Plot,” Winkie is the insane one. The email comes from a lady in Katherine, Australia, who says Winkie was insane to leave me for a clown, and commends me for displaying such dignity, nobility, and integrity.

Had she left it at nobility, I’d have left it there too, but the inclusion of that third quality compels me to make a confession. Winkie didn’t say he’d fallen for “Cathy’s Clown.” I called her that out of spite. Her name was Catherine – or so he told me. Who knows, maybe it was “Lucille” and Winkie was ashamed of the association with the screwball Lucille Ball. Or perhaps, knowing that I consider rhyme sublime, he thought I would call her Lucy-goosey. Either way, in future I’ll try to be more charitable to Cathy/Lucy-goosey.

*****

A man from Wellington, New Zealand, not to be outdone by an Aussie, commends me for displaying such dignity, nobility, integrity, and sagacity. But unlike the lady from Katherine, he doesn’t refer to either Winkie’s sanity (such as it is) or my successor (“Cathy’s Clown”). Instead, he says the breakup story would have been far more interesting had I related how the Duke of Wellington had defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.

I couldn’t fathom how Winkie and I were related to the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon. Not right away, anyway. At first I thought the allusion was to Napoleon’s (apocryphal) palindrome, “Able was I ere I saw Elba.” Maybe the man from Wellington wanted to subject me to reverse psychology – but then it struck me that there’s no such subject. There’s only psychology. So I dismissed that hypothesis and turned to the subject I prefer: history, which I read as a minor for my BA and which I still read for pleasure.

The Battle of Waterloo had been fought on June 18, 1815, and June 18 is my friend Lorraine’s birthday. Posting my wish to Lorraine on Facebook had led to my posting “The Definition of Plot” here. And since the definition of plot is “one thing led to another,” the man in Wellington had suggested the Duke of Wellington and Waterloo. I was all set to accept this hypothesis, but I remembered that Lorraine lives in Australia, and the man in Wellington had already revealed his attitude to Aussies by his “sagacity.” He could care less about Lorraine’s birthday, even if it does coincide with the Battle of Waterloo.

I had my Eureka moment while scratching my head in the shower the other day. The water reminded me of “Crying in the Rain,” one of the Everly Brothers numbers mentioned in “The Definition of Plot,” and it hit me that my crying had reminded the man in Wellington of water (hence Waterloo), and the rain, of wellingtons (hence the Duke). As I stepped out of the shower (in what state, I needn’t state), I realized the dude’s a genius! The breakup story really would have been more interesting had I related how the Duke of Wellington had defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.

From now on, I will run every story by the Dude of Wellington before publishing it. He’s shown me that for everyone who writes a story, there’s always someone who can write it better.

*****

Mostly, though, the emails from Oz and NZ are from Indian immigrants, all claiming to have gone to school or college with me. I’ve received numerous obviously Photoshopped images to validate this claim. One picture looks uncannily authentic, and it might have had me fooled except I never went to St. Mary’s Patna.

An Anand in Sydney, who claims to have played Othello to my Desdemona at Fergusson College, asks if I remember how he’d said “Put out the light,” and the lights went out that very moment. When they came back on two hours later, only the cast and crew were left in the Amphitheatre, so we didn’t bother with “and then put out the light” and the rest of it.

As an editor I like to encourage aspiring writers, so I’m willing to publicly declare that this person may be the next Laurence Sterne, he’s done such a fine job at writing a cock-and-bull story. Even so, I don’t like that he thinks I’m as gullible as Othello. The only Anand I know in Sydney played Petruchio to my Katherina, and I have related what happened on that occasion in “My Favorite Summer Haunt.”

*****

Believe it or not, someone in Australia even claims to be my older sister! She writes to say that if I don’t behave myself and stop mentioning sexual content, she’ll tell Mummy and Papa. That sounds like older-sisterly thing to say so I’m sure she’s someone’s older sister, just not mine.

For one thing, my Mummy is a doctor who, by delivering countless babies and producing three of her own, has done her bit for India’s population. Sexual content doesn’t faze her one bit. As for my Papa, he shuffled off this mortal coil in 2009, and in his immortal state is enjoying pleasures far more glorious than any this world could afford – sexual content included. Of course, were he still with us, he’d have told me to come home at once so he could give me two tight slaps.

*****

The letters from Canada are also mostly from Indian immigrants, all peeved that I wrote a book on the Indian community of LA rather than that of Brampton. And I’ve heard from more “relatives.” Someone in British Columbia who describes herself as “a retired teacher and tireless quilter” claims to be my aunt and godmother, and a student in Ontario claims that I’m his aunt and godmother! He says I forgot to send him a birthday gift four years straight and now wants everything lump sum, with interest.

The teacher is clearly a cheater (my aunt would never use quilts to bribe me to visit her), but I’m not so sure about the student. Forgotten birthdays are the sort of thing my godson would remember, and I’d hate to have forgotten even one, let alone four. He made me an aunt and, as I mention in “My Favorite Inscriptions,” gave me my favorite name. So I’ll do some investigating. If it turns out that I forgot, I’ll write my godson a check, whether he sent that email or not. And if I find out that he sent it as a prank, I’ll tell him to come to LA at once so I can give him two tight slaps.

When he gets here, I’ll do what the Prodigal Son’s father did when he appeared in the distance. I’ll run to him and fling my arms around his neck and say all is forgiven. Then I’ll kill the fatted calf and throw a party. And since my godson doesn’t have an older brother to throw a spanner in the works (or, for that matter, a monkey wrench), a good time will be had by all.