My Dog Is Only Human

Splayed the ribeyes on the counter, seasoned them both sides — pepper and salt, like a latex primer – and I told White Fang, “Don’t even think about it…” though if I turned my back for one second, at least one of the steaks would be gone. After all, my dog is only human.

Welcome to summer — shorts, sandals and sheer cotton dresses…gin by the pool, margaritas by moonlight.

At a small dinner party, talk is of how avocado trees won’t produce unless impregnated by an avocado tree of the opposite sex. By the minute, life gets more complicated for me.

So, there are male avocado trees and female avocado trees? I can’t tell Demi Lovato from Demi Moore, or Johnny Depp from a disgraced English duke. And now I need to sex trees?

I give up, though summer leaves me buoyant, inspired, reasonably hopeful (at least as cynics usually go).

I love summer’s good grilled steaks — charred on the edges and cherry on the inside, with baked potatoes the size of Peyton Manning’s head.

I love holiday weekends like this one — the trombones in front, the piccolos in back. I love the guys with shovels behind what Dylan Thomas called the “the clip clop of horses on the sun-honeyed … streets.”

I love the vintage cars carrying the ultimate VIPs: the war vets. Most still manage a twinkle in their eyes, a shimmering courage we’ll never fully appreciate. 

Vets know something about the world that we’ll never know. What it’s like to be shot at while battling some misshapen evil. Must challenge your world view. Must confirm for you some secret awful suspicion that much of the planet will always belong to the bullies and the tyrants.

Thank you for your service. Thank you for taking on the tyrants.

Once again, mankind seems to have made a mess of things – the economy, this war, the filthy oceans… modern movies, network TV.

So, for a moment on Monday, with the crisp rasp of a single snare, we celebrate the things we maybe got right.

Democracy? Check. Freedom? Absolutely. A sense of providence and well-being? Well…

I guess our ideals are always a work in progress. In a Democracy, the paint is always wet. Humans are only human.

Speaking of all wet, my physician/sidekick (Dr. Steve) griped recently over drinks that fortune cookies are “not really fortune cookies anymore. They’re affirmations.”

That resonated with a reader (Lisa O’Reilly), who weighed in too:

“Yes! What happened to the fortune cookie? I needed those little hopes! Now I get things like ‘You look pretty’ (Ok, that one wasn’t bad) and this – ‘A well-aimed spear is worth three.’ Interesting concept, but I really just want to know if I WILL win the lottery.”

I need those little hopes too, Lisa. And I’ll find them twirling batons at Monday’s parade, marching with the Brownie troop, pinging the xylophone with a heaping of smug teen-age indifference that borders on total contentment.

I love parades, for the way they celebrate kids and moms, war vets and rescue dogs, and stubborn dreams for this stupid world.

And if you think that makes me lame and geeky, I have news for you, Karen: I invented lame. Then, I invented geeky.

Know who else invented lame and geeky? Bill Gates. He may have perfected it. He’s even more lame and geeky than me, which is really saying something. I mean, those sweaters?

Super geek…super freaky…

I was scolding Gates the other day. Something he’d Tweeted rubbed me the wrong way — the sanctimony, the kind of admonishments know-it-all billionaires always make to serfs like us. Among rich cyber-putzes, it’s what passes for noblesse oblige.

BG (Before Gates), childhood had a bit of poetry to it, a resonance, a gritty, grass-stained perfection. Kids got sunburned in summer. They rode bikes. They didn’t spend July learning line coding or data compression.

Back then, kids played outside, and here’s my theory – please hear me out: “We need a sunny childhood. It is absolutely a nutrient. It builds strong bones and sunny  lives.”

It is the first baby step toward a lifetime of mental health.

So, on this kickoff to the season, let us pause a moment and appreciate the vintage joys of summer, which healthy, well-adjusted kids need. A ballfield…a lemonade stand…running barefoot on a hot driveway – all in the sunshine.

Other joyous moments can be found, in full flourish, at Monday’s parades. Riding in the firetrucks. Marching in the bands.

Like a big colorful ribbon, these things. Like something that flutters on flagpoles, full of promise and heartache, forever in the wind.

After all, we’re only human.

Please stay tuned for details of our next hike, likely on a Sunday evening, capped by drinks at a free concert in the park. Meanwhile, find columns, books, t-shirts and more at Cheers!

10 thoughts on “My Dog Is Only Human

  1. White Fang seems to be thinking, “C’mon, c’mon. All I need is a split second to grab that steak!”

    1. I have a different take on White Fang’s thoughts, having studied this pic up close:
      Left eye says: I will never stop being deeply suspicious of you.
      Right eye says: And I’m ready to kill if necessary.
      I read the eyes before reading the column. All I can say is, Well, she’s only human.
      O, and female ; /. There may be blood. Hope it’s just the ribeye juices.

  2. Thanks for your lovely, evocative and, yes, wistful words about summer and all the sacred and silly and fun facets of Memorial Day in the USA. It’s drizzly and gloomy in So Cal, but you put a little sunshine in my heart. Summer, we are ready for you. Bring on the ribeyes.

  3. This says it all! Thank you for a lovely and timely message. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, with all your family and friends!

  4. I’m (almost)) speechless with this one; such fine sintered granularity in the glittering yet somehow smooth prose. This is big heart writing, yet deeper than the console-seat gap you just dropped your car keys down, upon reading it. How did you get so exquisitely dimensional, so wide and deep at the same time? And on the money. you put a sharp cultural nail in the current zeitgeist, pinning it to the morning light for us see and feel. I haven’t read a more cogent yet elegant tribute to our real superstars, our military, than this. It would make a terrific newspaper riff this Memorial Day weekend, uniquely big yet intimate; great stylish journalism bordering on poetry. But wait, you are that guy. Nothing nearly as good will appear in the L.A.Times this weekend. How do I know that? After reading this, I just know it.

  5. You don’t have to sex avocados as they are all bisexual. It’s just that they switch their sex from morning to evening. If that confuses you, my job here is done. Enjoy your weekend.

  6. Sometimes avocados planted from seeds do grow plants that produce. Maybe because a boy avo lives next door? dang, look what you started with that gauzy dress thing…

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