The Power of the Pearly Whites

02/26/2004 9:07:23 AM

The Power of the Pearly Whites-Cleetus Lesson #2


In my last entry I waxed wise about the power of eyes. But in those pictures your Mom sends me I also note your smile. The day you were born you gave me a great big smile, Kaitlyn. But you know that, right?

Well it would seem that master of the power of the face, Cleetus the nasty dachshund, has yet another face-tool up his sleeve. Not that he has sleeves or anything what with arms only two inches long. At any rate, we all can learn a lesson from Cleetus, Kaitlyn. That would be the power of teeth.

I know you don’t have teeth yet, Kaitlyn. But someday you shall. When you get those teeth, Kaitlyn, two things: a)ask me how I removed my own wisdom tooth and b)read below and learn how to use those teeth to maximum effect.

I am now reminded that not too far down the road you will start to talk.

Oh you’ll start crawling and begin to walk and these are amazing things. But when little human babies begin to talk, well there’s just nothing like it.

Used to be I considered humans were the only animals to talk to each other but I now know this is not true. Though humans do perform things with language that no other animal in the Kingdom does. You’ll understand just what soon enough, Kaitlyn.

About the other animals talking to each other … yes they do. In fact, I have an admiration of sorts for the brevity of the animal language. Either of my dogs can simply show their teeth and hey, they’ve said a mouthful. More often than not the dogs show their teeth to each other but there are times that the cats must be shown teeth. Rarely, but it happens, even I have had teeth shown to me though this is mostly a spontaneous dog reaction to some sudden surprise human action that they weren’t expecting. Dogs shouldn’t be showing their teeth to their human owners is what I’m saying here, that is if they want their next meal on time or don’t want to incur human wrath.

They show their teeth to each other quite often and how simple is this act to tell the other guy to back off? All over this country, Kaitlyn, there are bars and taverns and street corners. Humans congregate and at times there is needed a method of forcefully creating space between warring factions.

Guy A makes eyeballs at Guy B’s girlfriend. Joe Blow 1 is following Joe Blow 2 too closely on the highway. John Doe I is eyeballing John Doe II’s wallet a bit to covetously.

I should think a simple matter of showing teeth would be a fine way to communicate between these disputing couples that a backing off of the insulting action is required. Though I envision a New Jersey Turnpike filled with half the drivers showing their teeth into rear view mirrors at the other half of the drivers following too close. And a fellow flashing a few ivory whites to another fellow approaching his girlfriend has a certain panache I’d admire.

Though I must admonish that the manner of flashing teeth is all important. It should not be a smile thing. The dogs have it figured out and even the cats understand it. If big Belgian Shepherd is sitting big galoot style on the floor, tongue hanging to the side and teeth visible due to the opened and panting mouth, the cats know this is not a dangerous thing though, you understand, her teeth are plainly in sight.

But let the shepherd pull her lips back ever so slightly to reveal tightly clenched teeth below, well this is not a good thing. Let those dog lips begin to quiver and any cat close by should be taking a hike. Which the cats do very quickly because no matter if said feline has committed no offense, the cat does know the dog is angry. Better to scoot and ask questions later.

The cats also speak to each other, and other species, quite well. Growling is a universal sign that an animal is angered. Almost all animals growl, that guttural sound that springs from a throat full of taut vocal chords. Human beings actually should growl more. There are plenty of times that I’d like to give my husband a simple growl that he would leave me alone. Sometimes I don’t want to make pleasant small talk, sometimes his reminisces bore me, sometimes, well who knows what? But it seems to me that by emitting a short growl my message would be heard.

Still, Kaitlyn Mae, human beings do have a way of communicating that encompasses everything from nuance to shouts. But language is language and all animals have one.

What the animals of the Kingdom cannot do, Kaitlyn, is just what you have completed doing. Which is reading this missive, my language to you preserved for later consumption.

Be pretty boring to read a whole book about showing your teeth.


The Eyes Have It

2/21/04 8:34 PM

The Eyes Have It


Your Mom sends me digital pictures at least once a week.
For which I am grateful because I live quite far from your parents right now and do not get to see you in person nearly enough.

Two of the more recent pictures have you sitting in your baby seat with balloons affixed somewhere on your person. The narrative in your Mom’s email describes how, when the balloon was tied to your leg, you quickly learned to move your foot to make the balloon float all about. Your eyes then follow what has to be a fascinating object to your two-month-old self. It’s the same thing when your Mom ties the balloon to your hand, only your Mom says you have more freedom of movement like this. Again your eyes follow the object as it floats above.

I ponder how nice it must be to first discover you have eyes and how they really come in handy. Since most of us don’t remember when we first really focused our eyeballs, I thought I’d remark on the intrigue of such a thing, albeit vicariously.

While I don’t remember when I first began to use my own eyes, I’ve certainly had fun watching you start using yours.

In another picture your Mom sent, your Dad was leaning over you, singing, or so your Mom explains. He is slightly to your right and so are your eyeballs. All the way to the right, I mean. All the way to the right because you were looking directly at your father and your eyeballs had to go that way to see him. It is a most intriguing picture, your eyes so obviously focused on your father. You weren’t even two months old but the eyeballs knew what they had to do.

Eyes can do amazing things, Kaitlyn, and I’m going to relate the story of my dachshund and his Rasputin eyes but understand that his talent and use of same also very much applies to humans.

Cleetus is his name and due to an assortment of very unusual circumstances he is forced to live with another dog roughly four times his size. The poor little thing is out-maneuvered, out-weighed and out-manipulated in all things from access to human pettings to food treats.

Then Cleetus learned to use his eyes.

It’s the most amazing thing, Kaitlyn, and until you’ve seen a dog forcefully make another dog do its bidding by the sheer power of its eyes then you might not believe this missive.

For Cleetus can make his eyes bug out and effect a stare that scares even me. He then stands “toe-to-toe” with Jo-Ann though I use that description liberally. Cleetus’ toes might be even with Jo-Ann’s but his eyes are situated at about the level of Jo-Ann’s knee-caps when they stand side to side. Still, Cleetus will raise his head, bug out his eyes and stare with the force of Rasputin directly into Jo-Ann’s. Cleetus then begins to slowly move forward, never moving his eyes from Jo-Ann’s face. She, for whatever reason, backs off in step to Cleetus’ forward movements.

If Cleetus doesn’t want Jo-Ann in the kitchen he will simply perform the infamous eye maneuver and back the big dog out. The logic being, Kaitlyn, that any dropped food or spontaneous treats then fall to Cleetus as Jo-Ann has been “eyeballed” out of the surround.

Jo-Ann doesn’t like this treatment, understand, and she often complains about it. She will emit a disgruntled growl that over time we humans have figured out is the canine equivalent of “Mom, he’s looking at me”.

Us humans do go to great lengths to insure a form of equality between the mismatched dogs. But we simply are unable to stop Cleetus from “looking” at Jo-Ann. In fact, we’ve taken to laughing about it despite Jo-Ann’s obvious distress. Cleetus has figured out an effective use of his eyeballs and evidently it intimidates Jo-Ann, the big Belgian shepherd.

“We can’t cut out his eyeballs,” I would tell Billy when he fretted about Cleetus’ insane stare and how it causes Jo-Ann such stress. “Jo-Ann will have to learn to deal with Cleetus’ eyes on her own I’m afraid,” I’d conclude to common sense.

So Kaitlyn I love that picture of your eyes going to the right to see your father as he sings to you. Even when you were a newborn I would whisper in your ear and marvel as your still unfocused eyes would veer towards the sound.

Frankly I think humans could learn a lot from Cleetus’ eye methodology but, alas, such as a forceful stare from one human to another is considered bad manners in human society. Also, too many humans are afraid to use their eyes with any effect. Me included. But when the going gets tough and I’ve been tail-gated by an idiot for the past ten miles, I’m not above looking over and giving a Cleetus stare to the nitwit when he is finally in my eye range at a stop light. Not that such idiots have a clue as to why I am staring at them and they often give me the finger right back.

The stare works is what I’m saying here, Kaitlyn. May you always use those beautiful eyes to such wonderful effect Kaitlyn and may you someday learn the art of the piercing stare.


02/18/2004 5:30 PM

The Idea Behind Money

Kaitlyn, the whole notion of handling money is a simple matter. Likely they won’t be teaching this sort of thing in schools in your day in favor of those all-important lessons of diversity. But it’s no big secret, Kaitlyn. The idea is for you to get as much of the other guy’s money as you can while allowing him to get as little of your money as possible.

Those “guys” and “him” references alluding to all sexes of our species though such writing will likely be outlawed by the time you read this.

There’s a whole bevy of laws, Kaitlyn, that provide a framework about how money is to pass from person-to-person, depending upon the circumstances and who is doing what to who. A lease is a contract between a landlord and a tenant delineating monthly rent. The idea is that the monthly amount in the lease is how much of YOUR money you give to the landlord.

There’s a whole world of nuances out there, Kaitlyn, as regards how much we give the other guy for service or product rendered. Such as leases are fairly cut and dried is what I’m saying here, Kaitlyn, but in almost every financial transaction into which we enter there is some leeway. This is when the notion of giving that other guy as little of your money as possible goes into effect.

Take the supermarket. Assuming they have supermarkets when you read this, Kaitlyn. For all I know all food might be delivered flash to your front door after a quick cut and paste on the market’s internet web site. So let me explain, just in case, that a supermarket is a large building filled with shelves and freezers. On and within these things are food items that are purchased on a per item basis by a shopper cruising the aisles pushing a cart in front.

Many years back our congress critters passed a law stipulating that all items sold in the grocery must have a cost per unit-of- measurement plainly in view of the consumer. Thus if I, the customer, am perusing the shelves for instant hot cocoa, for instance, there should be a tag in easy sight that indicates how much each brand and package size sells per pound. “Per Pound” because that is the unit of measurement for cocoa. The unit of measurement could be “per foot” I suppose but I don’t know many grocery items that are sold per foot.

I regard the Swiss Miss cocoa which sells, even at its vaunted sale price, at 3.59 per pound. I view the other options and note that most of the instant cocoa was selling from 2.00 per pound to around 5.00 per pound. Quite a bit of difference per pound, almost three dollars. Still there is a quality factor, Kaitlyn, and we might choose to pay more per pound for a higher quality. I always choose the better price per pound unless I have a brand loyalty because, well I don’t want to give the guy more money than I have to in order to purchase his product. I do this with soap powder, deli meat, even cocoa.

Over in the corner I noted one brand of cocoa that had “53.6” listed as it’s unit rate. My eyes bypassed this brand, Nestles by the way, as my immediate impression was that there must be some mistake. All about the Nestles’ cocoa were varying brands and sizes, all running between that 2 and 5 dollar mark. I considered the best value for these products but my eye returns to the Nestles.

“Damn,” I muse to myself. “The Nestles is only 53.6 cents a pound.” I lean down and peer closer to insure my eyes are correct. I check the brand as Nestles is a name brand, arguably the best of the lot.

My brain runs amok as I ponder how Nestles can possibly afford to sell their quality cocoa at two to three dollars less per pound than even the anemic store brand.

It was FIFTY THREE DOLLARS AND SIXTY CENTS A POUND, Kaitlyn! Now we’re talking a difference of at least forty eight bucks a pound between the Nestles and the other brands.

The experience left me glad that our legislators once wrote such a useful law. I then pondered how the judges would be at passing such laws.

Then there was the car insurance, Kaitlyn.

With a new monthly rate of $103.56.

My eyes bulge at the notice that my insurer will now deduct this amount from my checking account every month. Before they had been deducting just a little more than this amount to insure TWO cars.

Due to a car lease and movements to different states, I was required to keep my insurance in the state of Merryland while husband had to purchase auto insurance in our new home state of Delaware.

“You’ve lost your multiple car discount,” the pleasant car insurance lady tells me. I said I had no problem with this.

“You’ve also lost your discount because you no longer have a homeowner’s policy with us,” nice lady continued. Which I allowed as we did purchase homeowner’s insurance in our new state for our new house.

The insurance lady stopped all pleasant like but I was not pleased.

The de facto cost of my car insurance was still over $1,200 a year! I only drive the damn car two days a week! I wasn’t buying that the huge increase in the cost of auto insurance was due to the homeowner’s discount or the multiple car discount.

And if it was, well I told the pleasant lady, I believe a driver with a perfect record such as myself who only drives occasionally could certainly get auto insurance cheaper than over a grand a year. No auto accidents or speeding tickets…EVER, Kaitlyn! This in over forty years of driving! I told pleasant lady that I bet I could save a bundle on my car insurance from Geico. A popular car insurance commercial of this era, Kaitlyn, but its message wasn’t lost on me.

Pleasant lady scrambled and asked me some questions. How much did I drive weekly? How many miles on my odometer? I heard keys clicking.

“I think we can get your rate down to $83.00 per month,” pleasant lady says.

Well darn if that ain’t a good twenty bucks lower than they were going to charge me! Which translates into $240 per year. $240 bucks of my money that the insurance guy was going to get out of my pocket beyond what I really had to pay. Had I not questioned it is what I’m saying here.

The anecdotes listed here Kaitlyn are but a snapshot in time. Every day, when money is involved, there is always some discretion.

There is no honor, Kaitlyn, in paying more than necessary, no matter your wealth, class or status.


2/18/04 4:16 PM

Guy Marries Guy

I hope, Kaitlyn Mae, that when you eventually read my wisdom, that marriage still consists of a solemnized and legal union of a male and a female.

If not my sweet granddaughter, you may thank the Massachusetts Supreme Court, the lesbian and gay activists all across the nation and most importantly little baby of innocence, you may thank the entire country which allowed the liberals to take over the country while it slept.

Of course a few airplanes flown intentionally into our national monuments woke up quite a few of us, a whole bunch of us were asleep for the entire Clinton presidency. The same President who made a mockery of our legal system, allowed Osama Bin Laden to run free, and packed the court system with judges who failed Civics as a child. If they even offered Civics, Kaitlyn, because this is a subject not taught in our schools any longer that we may learn the lessons of diversity.

Now I don’t want to rant too much about politics in my tome to you, Kaitlyn. Because in a distant future a Bill Clinton will be nothing more than just another president whose name must be memorized. So I’ll concentrate on the buzz words of “judges”, “Civics” and “Diversity”.

The United States’ constitution provides for three branches of the government, Kaitlyn. There is the judicial, the legislative and the executive. The executive branch is the president, vice-president and his cabinet. The legislative are the congress critters. The judicial is, of course, the judges. Maybe by the time you read this Kaitlyn they will be teaching this sort of stuff in school again. But if not than you may thank me for the enlightenment. The legislative guys pass the laws, the leader guys can veto them, and the judge guys check that new laws are congruent with the constitution. The idea is for a system of checks and balances, a prevention that would avoid having certain parts of the government wielding too much power.

Only the judges in this year of our Lord 2004 Kaitlyn, have decided to make laws directly from the bench, bypassing that bit about our elected leaders doing the deed. It’s a different kind of government, Kaitlyn, what with having unelected judges telling us how to live our lives. It’s not how America is supposed to be but given time I might adjust to it. Kind of like Pakistan, which has an army that runs the government. Actually we’re probably better off with Judges running things because at least we can shoot the judges, if need be. Having an army in charge is probably much worse.

Though not much worse I’d argue. Because don’t the judges in Massachusetts demand that their legislature pass a law allowing marriage between a guy and a guy? Or a lady and a lady. Next thing I know, way the hell over in California a whole bunch of same sex people are getting married. California has a law mandated by their people, that marriage, -in the legal, government sense- would consist only of a union between a male and a female. Of legal age and all that, of course, but note the sexes because that’s the important part. Still the city hall of San Francisco is granting marriage licenses to people in violation of its own state law so why the hell have laws?

During this day and age, the American people don’t want a marriage to be anything but a union between a male and female. The people are waffling all over the place about “civil unions” and such but about the distinct act of marriage as it is called today, the public wants it to be only a male and a female.

Much the way that nature intends it, Kaitlyn.

But I digress.

Anyway, Kaitlyn, I know what they’re up to. The whole liberal diversified lot of them. In the year 2004 the liberals really do not want to allow marriage to be anything but a union of a male and a female. The plan is to scare the hell out of Americans by having judges demand that legislatures pass laws or just willy-nilly opening City Hall to issue marriage licenses between any combination of sexes of two people. All of the publicity and sight bites of guys marrying each other is to suppose to so horrify us that, gasp, we will accept civil unions with smiles upon our relieved faces.

It’s what they’re up to Kaitlyn. This would now seem to require a list of my wisdom as regards civil unions. But I’m not going to go there just yet.

Which is why I hope when you read this, Kaitlyn, that marriage will still be between a male and female and that they have not yet allowed the civil unions they hornswoggled us into in 2004 slippery slide into a quasi-marriage. Because YOUR children, Kaitlyn, will then be mellowed and ready to accept same sex marriages, Kaitlyn.

Remember it all started in 2004 and it was all part of the plan.