Since it puts me in a bad mood to be shushed, I am going to un-shush myself.
Some shushings are more irritating than others. All women have been shushed one way or another. Sometimes it’s “calm down,” sometimes it’s “you’re hysterical,” sometimes it’s “you’re shrill.” I could go on. Censorship is another matter altogether, especially when it has to do with something as small-minded and insignificant and as infuriating to me as putting a big hairy hand down on my little Facebook compliment. The big guy is well past his rubber-sheets and minor-torture sex play persona, not a weirdo any more, goddammit. He’s Papa, and he’s not forgiving me or any other infidel for our existence.
I’ve been thinking about my father and Michael Vick, dogs, dogs in clothes, talking dogs, abused dogs, show dogs, therapy dogs, and the dogs of the Rainbow Bridge and heart-throb fiction.
My father was an upstanding citizen in the eyes of the community, but a secret drunk who gave the Chihuahua gin on Saturday nights. In my intolerant moments I would call this abusive and hypocritical. In my tolerant moments I would call it depressed, addicted, sad sad sad. So I grew up confused, suspecting that nothing at all was what it seemed. When my father was hung over my mother told me he’d eaten too much at the party the night before. I had never known anybody to put an icebag on their heads because they had overeaten, and even as a kid I knew he’d drunk too much. Once when my mother walked across the floor, blood waterfalling down her legs, I knew mommy hadn’t “spilled something” as my terrified father said. I knew it was blood, I knew it came from my mother’s body and I knew that it couldn’t be good. It was a miscarriage but nobody ever told me that.
I suppose giving the Chihuahua gin was a way for my father not to be partying alone, since the Chihuahua, whose name was Poco, staggered all over the living room and made my father laugh. I was disgusted and helpless, scared for the dog and for me too.
My father wasn’t a bad man. He had a good job, went to church, was active in his community, loved my mother and tried hard to live up to the image he’d made for himself.
I don’t know what my point is. Of course I think of SFShiba and his dogs-in-kimonos, even the regal Hiro and the manly Zen. Yuuki looks sad in hers, but at least there’s not a parasol attached this year. It’s all cherry blossoms and generosity and adorable dogs with a good Papa. The only things my dogs have ever “worn” are red scarves during hunting season in Vermont. Because they are dogs. They aren’t my children, I am not their humom, and I don’t believe in the Rainbow Bridge either.
I understand that sometimes people grasp at whatever makes them feel powerful, or good, or important. I understand why sometimes people need to cite Frank Sinatra and “I Did It My Way.” I understand why lying or calling white black drives me nuts and scares me too.
I look at Michael Vick and his Bad Newz Kennels and I see my father. Michael Vick had the hard childhood of the tough black kid, was surrounded by sycophants, was nothing but a fighting dog himself, a gladiator paid to be tough, owned by people richer than him, and hired to be a high-flying target for owned men bigger than himself. My father just had a mother who didn’t like kids, a gruff and unpleasant father, four years overseas in a world war, and a tendency toward depression that was unacceptable to his principles and to his vision of himself. Michael Vick was cruel to dogs, horrifically, criminally cruel, and he served 18 months in Leavenworth for his sins. My father just tortured one. To each according to his needs.
No, there’s no excuse. But there’s also no excuse for everlasting hatred and revenge.