Friday, October 10, 2014

Assorted Thoughts

Yes, it’s another one of those mornings.

I wasn’t sure why, but for a long time whenever I went a day without posting something here, I felt I should apologize for the hiatus. As of this morning, I understand the impulse.

Yesterday was a particularly intense and trying day for me. I lacked even a moment’s free time in which to write. (A condition, in case you were wondering, that severely pisses me off. I actually become dangerous to be around. That’s not a boilerplate “writers must write” homily; it’s a statement about myself and myself alone. So now you know.) Accordingly, there was no October 9 Fran Rant.

I didn’t expect the consequences: 243 emails, by actual count, inquiring as to my health and general well-being. Apparently, I’ve been so regular about pumping out this dreck that my Gentle Readers become alarmed when there’s a gap in my output.

Yes, I’ve answered them all. I came close to making a Form Email for the purpose, but retreated from the idea when I reflected on how I would feel if my expression of solicitude toward someone whose well-being I value were to be answered that way.

It wore out my fingers...but I’m wearing a huge smile this morning. Thank you, one and all, for caring.

(I’m also feeling too good to write about political crap, so proceed at your own risk.)

Why “Assorted Thoughts” this morning rather than “Scattered Thoughts?” The number of entries involved. If it’s fewer than ten, it’s merely an “assortment.” No, there’s no logic behind it.

Various authorities have assured me – yes, I’ve asked – that dogs are incapable of the human emotion called love. None of them have ever met Sophie the German Shepherd. This animal actually leaps into my arms at the end of the day. When I seat myself on our sofa (named “Sophia,” with companion hassock “Dominik”), she cuddles into my side and wraps her forelegs around me.

It can’t be a food-seeking response. My smell? Perhaps? Or perhaps it’s that she’s a rescue dog, retrieved from an MS-13-connected family of welfare cheats and spendthrifts. (Took some doin’, too.) Your Curmudgeon reports; you decide.

I’ve recently become a practitioner of what Erica Jong, best known for her utterly execrable, semi-autobiographical pudenda-centered fiction, once called “the Jewish science:” answering a hostile question with an even more hostile, more pointed question. I get a lot of hostile questions about my politics, my religion, and my various pastimes, and this is a good way to deflect them and discourage more of them.

A hostile question is not an indication of curiosity; it’s a bully’s tactic, a probe for weakness. A smashing return of serve is always the best reply, regardless of any other aspect of the situation. Imagine yourself being cross-examined as a hostile witness, in a trial without a judge or any rules of order, and the necessary attitude will fall into place without further effort. It helps to remind yourself that you don’t owe anyone an answer to a question he hasn’t contracted with you to answer. So don’t!

There’s a lot of satisfaction in watching your interrogator’s face fall when he realizes that you’re not the marshmallow he was hoping to skewer – that crossing swords with you might be more dangerous to him than to you. Reinforces the cranky-old-man image, too.

The C.S.O. and I are headed west a little later today, to Canandaigua, NY, for a weekend of foliage watching, wine tasting, and general relaxation. There’s a Culinary Institute of New York establishment there as well, where Beth hopes to take a day class or two. For myself, it will mainly be a chance to decompress in pleasant, stress-free surroundings, though I also intend to get some fiction writing done.

So if I should post lightly or not at all, don’t worry about me, please! I’ll be drinking New York wines and doing other relaxing things among the trees of Western New York State, where the Demons of FibreChannel dare not go. The Fortress of Crankitude will be heavily guarded, as usual, by Sophie, Rufus the Newfus, and our beloved house-sitter Courtney, the only woman I know who’s both more heavily armed and a better shot than I am. (Yes, she has a key to my gun safe. No, I haven’t trained her in the use of the mortars or the 155mm howitzer...yet.) The main threats to my health, physical or mental, will be eating too much restaurant food, drinking too much New York Riesling, and worrying about the New York Rangers’ prospects this season, after their spectacular run for the Stanley Cup this past spring.

That’s all for today, Gentle Reader. Wish me luck on the New York State Thruway, and enjoy your Columbus Day weekend!


A Reader said...

Mr Porretto,

Whoever said dogs can't love, or can't mourn, or don't feel never owned one. My wife and I own what we thought for the longest time was a German Shepherd mix, though we now have some suspicion she might be a Belgian Shepherd mix instead. (If we ever get a German Shepherd and a French bulldog, I imagine the GSD will go right over her to get to the Frenchie.) When one of us is home and the other is gone, she searches the house for us. She is supposed to hang out on one of her two pillows, but I often find her sleeping as close to our bed as possible or camping out right behind the front door. She's most likely to choose another, and technically forbidden, sleeping spot in the bedroom when one or the other of us is under the weather. This is not the behavior of a heartless beast. Does she depend on us for food and shelter? Of course. Does she seem to crave our approval? Undoubtedly. But the food does not come faster because she hovers when we're ill, nor the approval more emphatically because she searches the house for whoever didn't let her in from the back yard.

Guy S said...

One has to only watch one (or all) of the many videos out there, where a now deceased owner's faithful companion is parked in front of the casket, or laying on the ground (on grass...noting there has been some time passed since their owner was laid to rest) in front of a headstone or marker. The "science" may say one thing...but my heart cries out in a much louder fanfare...they LOVE. (It should also be noted....their's is a different love..than what we deal with...their's is unconditional.

Oh, and enjoy the wine tasting! Over the years I have narrowed it down to two varieties which will find their way to my glass. I have yet to meet a "Green Hungarian" or Moscato which prevented me from finishing the bottle in short order.

gwynn romano said...

That is beautiful country. Enjoy.

Reg T said...

A person who truly thinks dogs can't love can only have been so deficient in spirit that he/she was ignored by a dog sometime in his/her past. I can't talk about my recently passed English bulldog. Too painful. But he was a lover.

And for those who think cats can't love haven't seen our Maine Coon follow my wife around all day long, sit quietly in her arms when she holds him like an infant, and sit quietly at her side when she calls him to join her on the porch swing for a long conversation about what a good cat he is (yes, he does talk back to her).