Monday, January 30, 2012

costs money

when i was a child , we had a dog who we called fritz . fritz was a little black dog , probably around 40 pounds . he had brown doberman-like markings and was a scrappy little mutt . dogs weren’t called “mixed breeds” in those days , they were just plain ol’ mutts . fritz was one of the best of them darn ol' mutts .

he had wiry hair and a tail that curled into a perfect circle . he had perky ears that stood up all the time ; he did not have floppy ears , like some dogs . he had soulful eyes . fritzy was a dog’s dog . he did what dogs do , or at least he did what dogs did in that day . he was a dog . he kept me company , he played with my sisters and me , and he barked when the mailman arrived . he ate cheap canned food for dinner or chuck wagon kibble with water . he seemed to enjoy the nice , delicious and savory gravy that the powder on the kibble created .

he smelled like a dog , too , and i am not talking about sniffing things on the ground or hunting cats . he had a knack for getting out of the backyard ; we called it “running away" . he had a knack for finding his way out of the backyard and then into the neighborhood’s garbage cans . where he found these garbage cans nobody knows , but he would return home smelling like crap and rotten food , and was drunk on being a bad dog . i am sure those whose garbage cans were overturned knew fritzy well .

he wore one of those antique plastic pest control devises known as a flea collar . i honestly have no idea if they still make flea collars , since “modern” dogs like mine use frontline to control fleas – and it works . his flea collar had to be trimmed with scissors to ensure a proper fit and it carried with it the faint smell of pesticide when it was brand new . accompanying his flea collar were his dog tags : a chain with his santa clara county license and a tag with his name , our address , and phone number on it .

his tags jingled whenever he walked . you could hear him coming . tinkle-tinkle-tinkle-tinkle . when he would scratch (since those flea collars worked so well) his chain and tags tinkled even louder and faster . ting-ting-ting-ting-ting-ting-ting-ting . you could also hear him coming by the clack of his toenails . clack-a-tinkle . clack-a-tinkle . clack-a-tinkle . clack-a-tinkle . clack-a-tinkle . clack-a-tinkle . clack-a-tinkle .

when he was excited , like when we would come home or when his dinner was being prepared , he would clacka-clacka-clacka-clacka-clacka in place . we called it “tap dancing” and he earned the nickname “fritz astaire” .

he wasn’t great on tricks or commands . he could sit . he could lie down . he would come when he was called and he would stay sometimes . he would shake . he would attack and chew on your slippers if you made them out to be monsters , a game that delighted my sisters and me into fits of giggles . he would chase you in the fields at rosemary elementary school . he would catch a frisbee , he would chase a ball , he would walk on a leash . he was a good boy .

one trick was his specialty . it was called “costs money” . my mother’s father , grampa harry , taught him this trick . i don’t remember when fritz was taught this trick , but it must have been during a thanksgiving or christmas visit . grampa harry had a great sense of humor and was a definite clown . i am sure he loved teaching this little dog this trick .

here’s how it worked :

fritz would sit . a treat would be placed in front of him . he would start towards it and would be told , “it costs money” in a tone that indicated , “you can’t eat that yet .” the phase “costs money” would continue in teasing proportions as the treat was moved closer and closer to him . he couldn’t eat the treat until he paid for it . and he knew it . you could see it in his eyes . he would sit there patiently and stare longingly at the morsel , whether a bit of thanksgiving turkey , christmas ham , salami , bread , or a milk bone charcoal dog biscuit . sometimes he would drool . sometimes he would need to settle into his sit again , or regain his balance , and his toenails would clack-clack-clack on floor .

“costs money , fritzy . it costs money .“

now , it was time to pay . services were rendered . the age-old system of barter was in play . the goods were presented , desired , and waiting to be enjoyed . but first , an exchange in this commerce game . oh capitalism , how you enthrall me !

the person who was withholding the bounty from him would extend their open hand and fritz would swipe his paw into it . this was the equivalent of him reaching into his back pocket , pulling out his wallet , and then placing cash in the open palm . at that point , the keeper of the feast exclaimed , “it’s paid for !” and fritzy would gobble up his reward .

the phrase “costs money” has been top of mind for me lately . i hear that phrase everywhere i go . everything everywhere costs money . i have not been working for the last six months and my income has been greatly reduced . i have lived my entire life with income and i have lived my entire life with expenses . there has always been money coming in and i have been good at ensuring that money goes back out again . everything everywhere costs money .

eating out costs money . ordering food in costs money . groceries cost money . a new pair of mittens cost money . learning to knit costs money . buying yarn costs money . a manicure and pedicure costs money . a new pair of nail clippers costs money . a movie costs money . a book costs money . a newspaper costs money . everything everywhere costs money .

a friend said once that the minute you walk out the door in NYC , you drop at least $30 . and the sad part is that it is true . even when attempting a “cost free day" , where you do nothing that costs money , you must budget at least $5 . there is no such thing as a “cost free” day . you watch TV and it costs money . you turn on a light it costs money . you surf the internet and it costs money . you eat lunch it costs money .

from my perspective , the only thing that does not cost money is sitting in my living room , petting my dog and thinking , something i do very often . i think about how we taught my childhood dog a trick called “costs money” and then i pet my dog . i think about how it is so true that everything really does cost money and i pet my dog again . i pet my dog and i think about how maybe i should write something about fritzy or maybe something about “costs money” .

while i pet my dog , i think about how i need to get my taxes done . even that costs money . it costs money to pay the government money . pet , pet , pet , think , think , think .

it’s a good thing that there is no way to tax thoughts or petting … yet . 

don't touch my poodle ...

So ... this is my first post on my first blog. I really have no idea why I signed up for a blog and I really have no expectations about it. I can't even figure out how to make it look cool. It took 20 minutes to find background templates to play with and then another 30 minutes to try to remove one that I didn't want. I honestly have no idea if I actually removed the background and I have no idea if it will appear or not once I post this.

I have no idea if I can spell check either. I sure hope so, otherwise whomever reads this without it being spell checked is in for a real reading treat. That makes me wonder if anyone WILL read this. If someone is-- if YOU are -- I suppose I should be grateful and thank you for stopping by. Thank you for stopping by.

In general,I have a whole lot of nothing to say and I sometimes put it into words. Those words usually end up on facebook as "notes". They are more like essays than stories, but I call them stories. They are my thoughts, my views, my opinions, and no animals are harmed in the process of making my notes. Unless you consider notes about the food I eat equating to harming animals ... I eat meat. Not as much as I used to. OK, that's not true. I eat just the same amount as I always have. I just like it.

That reminds me of a story from when I was little. I was maybe six or seven years old. I lived on Eden Avenue. That is the first house I ever lived in. We had steak for dinner one night and chocolate cake for dessert. My mom, dad, and sisters finished their dinner first. I was lagging behind in the mastication department because once I knew chocolate cake was for dessert, I wanted nothing of the steak.

My mom wasn't having any of it -- my behavior that is, not the cake. She was having cake, and so were my dad and my sisters. My mom cut my steak into pieces and said that I couldn't have cake until I finished my steak.

Stubborn me decided that the fastest way to get to cake was by putting all of the steak into my mouth. There I was, a tiny child with a tiny mouth filled with big steak. I chewed and chewed and then realized there was no way I would be able to swallow it all and cake was not in my future. I was embarrassed, I was cake hungry, and I was frustrated. I cried. I cried hard and loudly. My mom put out her hand, I spit out my steak, and I think (I honestly can't remember) I ate cake.

My sisters, I am sure, were sitting across the dinette table laughing and making fun of me. They were excellent at that, but I love them both deeply today despite their childhood meanishness. (More about that in later posts ...)

In the meantime, i wonder if anyone wonders if there is significance in this blog's name. Well ... if you are, you are about to find out. My sisters reminded me of a family "pet name" for something while I was seeking input on a trick taught to our family dog, Fritzy. The Facebook messaging exchange went like this:

SCOTT: What do you remember of the trick "costs money" that Fritz did? Do you remember how we played this?

CANDACE: Mmmmm... I don't remember, but I remember we did it. Maybe telling him to sit ... and we would just say ... it costs money ... then give him a treat ... ??? I don't know.. I don't remember anything anymore ... I'm telling you ... I'm going to have dementia and live in a home....

SCOTT: You already have dementia and you already live in a home. You've arrived!!

CHRISTY: Hi Guys ... Here's how the trick went - (very close to what Kiki said so she doesn't have dementia!)....Put the treat out in front of him and make him sit... "cost money ... cost $, okay it's paid for". Then he could eat it.

SCOTT: I remember everything that you said above, but what was the payment? Didn't he have to do something to "pay for it"? Did he have to put out his paw? Give a kiss? Something? What equaled payment? I can't remember.

CANDACE: He would just sit ... then he could have the treat ... I remember now from Christy's story .... What ... are you trying to teach Victor that?

CHRISTY: Okay....yes. He did have to "pay for it"... he would lift his paw. I think we'd say, "you need to pay for it..." and then when he lifted his paw, "it's paid for!" I think we should ask Dad. Wasn't it his trick? Anyway, laughed last night because I told Chris about "poodle" funny :)

SCOTT: Grampa harry taught him the trick according to mom. Not sure when though. I think you're right. I know he had to pay ... I think that's how he paid ...What was the funny thing about "poodle"?

CANDACE: That is what we called your weenie!

SCOTT: Oh my. I don't remember that. That's Victor's nickname!

CANDACE: What? You don't remember that? How could you not remember that????

SCOTT:Do you remember what we called your vaginas?

CANDACE: Uh no ...I do not!

SCOTT: I don't either, but if we all knew a nickname for it, you might have blocked it out, too.

CHRISTY: Okay you two I am LMFAO! I CANNOT BREATHE!! Since we're talking vaginas .... do you know the story of Kevin and cha cha's?

SCOTT: No. Do tell.

Well, she hasn't told yet and if she does I don't think I want to know about it. But, if you are interested, look in the near future for the finished story of Fritzy and "costs money" and try to wash your ears and eyes -- and memory -- of the fact that my family had a pet name for my pecker.