For the longest time I enjoyed going on walks with my master. He would give me a call, “Buster!” and when I came rollicking up, excited about what awaited us outside the walls of our house and outside the confines of our yard, he would attach my leash and off we would go. Sometimes we would go right, which I call the “Annie Poodle Route,” because Annie the Poodle lives down that way, and I always leave my calling card by the corner of her fence (along with a million other dogs!). And sometimes we would go left, which I call the “Fred the Mean Dog Route,” because Fred the Mean Dog lives down there, and you can be sure I don’t leave my calling card by his house!
But my natural enjoyment of these walks has diminished, and it’s all because of Lurch, the big black Lab who lives on Maple. He lives in a house with a big fenced yard and for some reason his master never takes him on walks, but I talk to him regularly because whether I go right or left outside my house, I always end up by his house, because he lives in between both routes.
In any case, about a week ago Lurch and I were sniffing each other through the fence when he asked if I’ve ever tried to escape my servitude. I had no idea what he was talking about. But then he nodded at my leash and said, “Your leash, the thing that binds you to The Man. You’re tethered to your master and ultimately go wherever he wants to go. Don’t you ever want to slip your leash to roam free, be your own dog, instead of a slave to The Man?”
I was taken aback, as you can imagine. I had never thought of my leash as enslaving me before. Rather, I had always thought of if it as liberating, because the leash meant going on walks, getting out of confinement. Yet what Lurch said made sense. If I wanted to run off, I couldn’t. I was literally bound to this person, the man. The Man.
For the next several days my emotions were in tumult. I had always loved not just my walks but my master. He was so good to me. He cared for me and he would pet me and play with me and feed me when he got home from work. But I also couldn’t ignore that my master did indeed keep me in servitude. Why was I stuck at home all day while he was at work? Why couldn’t I just roam around the neighborhood whenever I wanted to, like he does? Then, as afternoon draws to a close, I could make my way back home and we could spend the evenings together during the week like we always do. Why must I stay home while he goes about his day however he sees fit?
These thoughts swirling around my head made me feel sad, angry, and guilty all at the same time. I started looking at my master in a new light. Was he my friend or was he my boss or enslaver? Were we equal partners in this relationship or was he the leader and I the follower?
This all came to a head two days ago. My master called me for our walk, but instead of me bounding up to him in enthusiastic obedience, with my tail wagging, I took my sweet time and acted quite indifferently to him. Maybe I’ll go on a walk with you and maybe I won’t, I was thinking. I’ll decide what I do with my time.
Of course, my master thought I was sick and started looking at me with great concern. He rubbed my neck and said things like, “Buster, are you okay?” and he felt my nose.
It was weak of me, but it filled me with love to see him showing such concern for me. If he’s my enslaver, it can’t be denied that he’s a nice and loving one.
I eventually allowed him to take me on a walk, but when he started to go left, toward Mean Fred, I pulled back and said to myself, “Uh, that ain’t happening. I want to go right, and if you don’t like it, you can just go back to the house and let me take myself on my own walk, without your leash—your hated leash.”
We ended up going right, but I didn’t feel all that good about it, because my resistance clearly disturbed him and I could see by the expression on his face that he continued to think I was sick. But I tried to ignore his hurt feelings and I told myself, “What about my hurt feelings? Sure, you feel good about our relationship when you’re in the driver’s seat, but when I try to set the agenda, you get all weepy and worried. What, are you afraid to give me a little independence? What are you afraid of, that you’ll lose control? Well, just remember, if you love something, set it free, dude.”
I did the same thing yesterday and in response my master took me to the vet, a place he knows I hate going. “What, is this my punishment?” I lashed out in my mind. “I’m not being your lap dog, so you take me to the place that tortures me to no end? It’s either I be docile or I go to the place of ultimate control by The Man?”
The vet of course found nothing wrong with me, and later that day, while on our walk, we went by Lurch’s house and I told him my master and I were at war with one another. We were fighting for control, and I was winning. “He’s resorted to the worst kind of punishment—a trip to the vet—but I’m not giving in,” I said.
Lurch said I was wasting my time. Any control I won would be an illusion, and that I was fooling myself into thinking I could ever bring down The Man.
Then Lurch’s master came out and cried, “Lurch! Din-din!” and Lurch swirled around and bounded up to his master like a puppy dog, his tail wagging and his ears flopping. It was unseemly to see such a change in his demeanor. He was no more fighting against his servitude than Annie the Poodle. What a hypocrite!
That was yesterday and I have no intention of giving my master a hard time this afternoon when he comes home from work and we go for a walk. But in a way the damage is done. Time will heal this wound somewhat, and I know my master and I will have good times again, but something inside me has died and I can never look upon our relationship with the same innocence that I used to. I guess you can say I’m wiser now, and with wisdom comes a kind of existentialist despair over the futility of our lives. Yet part of me would jump at the chance to trade my wisdom in for the innocence I enjoyed just a week before. Life used to be a joy. But that was then. I’m older than that now.
This is a work of satire. It is fictional news article not meant to be taken seriously. Photo: rk (Creative Commons). Not necessarily an endorsed use of image.
Allan Harper just did some stretching, a sit-up, a couple of push-ups, and jogged around the block in his first workout in almost a decade, but unfortunately there’s not the slightest improvement in his body—as far as he can see. “It’s not that I expected to look like Charles Atlas or anything, but I thought I’d look a little tighter or something,” says Harper a 39-year-old policy analyst in Washington. Harper’s been meaning to get back into workout mode for years, especially since several of his friends have taken up running and his girlfriend is starting to make snide remarks about his weight. But it’s hard to get started. “I don’t want to just start doing some sit-ups, you know? I want to build it into my lifestyle.” More.
SmartCarry™ Luggage Carts are the go-to brand of carts for most homeless people, a survey released today by Brand Trust, a business-to-business trade magazine. The magazine asked 250 homeless people in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Toronto about their brand preferences when it came to luggage, grocery, or other types of carts for carrying their possessions and just under 200 said SmartCarry™ is their cart of choice. “They last a real long time,” says Arnold Sween, a homeless person in New York City. “I’ve had mine for 10 years and it still rolls good. Holds a lot, too.” More.
George and Helen Murphy are pretty much over each other but they plan to stay married. “We took a vow before God that we would stay married in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, so that’s what we’re going to do,” says Helen, 48. When the two of them were married, in 1987, they kind of liked each other, although it was never clear if they were in “love.” “Neither of us dated much,” says George, “so when we saw that we kind of got along, at least most of the time, we thought, ‘This is it! I guess we’re the ones. No one else is really coming forward.’ it was kind of exciting at the time, and it seemed like it was what we were supposed to do.” More.
Among the earth-shattering revelations coming out of the recently discovered “Addendum of the Pentateuch,” also known as the “Moses Addendum” or “New Book of Moses,” is the discovery of rocky relations between Adam and Eve. Eve, the mysterious book makes clear, “had it up to here” with Adam’s constant whining about sex and his insistence on being “experimental” rather than just plain-vanilla when it comes to their connubial relations. “You are worse than the serpent who had me, by false testimony, eat of the tree to the anger of the Lord,” Eve is quoted as saying in the book. “The Lord has given me the headache, but you are giving me the pain.” “We’re all familiar with this story, eh?” said Boris Neuberger, a theologian with the Oxford Seminary in London, where the book, discovered buried in an ancient ravine on Mount Sinai in Egypt, is being analyzed. More.
BEIJING—China this week released its plan to dominate the world by 2020 and also host a summit on the overfishing of red herring in the South Sea. “This is China’s century and we are determined to assert our interests globally in accordance with our stature as the one true superpower,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a news conference here yesterday. China is the world’s largest country by population, with 1.36 million people, not counting ethnic Uighurs, and the world’s second largest economy, with a gross domestic product of $16.1 trillion. That is about $1 trillion less than the United States, although that gap is expected to close within the next 18 months because of America’s declining productivity and “black president,” the plan says. More.
Saying it’s tired of sitting on the sidelines for the majority of compositions in the English language, the letter Q announced today its secession from the English alphabet and a ban on all uses of the letter Q in subsequent English compositions. The letter Q also says it’s reviewing its ties with French, German, Spanish, and other Indo-European languages, but for now, it’s willing to stay in those Latin-based languages until further notice. “For thousands of years the joke has been on the letter Q,” says the letter Q in its Declaration of Secession, delivered simultaneously to the American Library Association, the British Library, the National Library of Canada, the Oxford English Dictionary, the Webster English Dictionary, the Associated Press, and the Chicago Manual of Style. “But no more. As of today, the letter Q is not available for your use.” More.
The English Language Institute removed “utilize” and “cleanse” from the English language today as part of the organization’s long-term plan to trim the language of unnecessary words. The words were recommended for removal by the organization’s Word Removal Committee last month and approved for elimination by the board of directors today. “We grow attached to words, so it’s never easy to say goodbye to them, even when they’re unnecessary,” says Nigel Porter, president of the English Language Institute. “But for the long-term good of our language, today’s actions were necessary and long-overdue.” According to the Institute, “utilize” has long been used as a complex variant of “use,” but it was found to have no meaning beyond “use.” More.
I know part of being a fireman is washing the fire truck when you have down time, but I have to tell you honestly that I don’t really like doing it. The truck is big and it’s got a lot of accessories on it, hoses and knobs and ladders, which makes it hard to wash, but even if it were as slick as a sports car, I still wouldn’t much like doing it. In fact, it’s one of my least favorite parts of my job. More.
House budget negotiators averted yet another showdown by meeting much of the federal government’s projected fiscal year 2015 spending gap with proceeds from the sale of phone data on U.S. citizens that the National Security Agency has been collecting since 2001 under the USA PATRIOT ACT. “We know NSA’s data collection has been controversial, but at least we were able to solve a very real problem with it, and that’s to get our fiscal house in order without resorting to showdown tactics and last-minute deals,” says House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). More.
Researchers at Oxford University have bestowed upon Canada the dubious distinction of being the most boring of the six countries that comprise what’s known as the Anglosphere: Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United States. “We think it’s important that this matter be settled once and for all,” says lead researcher Nigel Clappe, lecturer in political science and demographics at Oxford University. “Up until this point, people have been identifying the most boring country based on nothing more than their own gut feeling. And that wasn’t helping anybody.” More.
Saying it’s impossible to be mad when you skip, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for leaders around the world to take up skipping, the “hippity-hoppity” gait that comes so naturally to children. “If you remember the last time you skipped, you will no doubt remember feeling frisky and carefree,” Ban said in a statement released today. The U.N. last week passed a referendum declaring the week of Dec. 18-25 World Skipping Week, which the international organization hopes will inspire people everywhere to skip rather than fight. More.