Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

11 March 2008

Unintended Consequences of Blogging, Part II

Back on March 1st, I blogged about my favorite cartoonist, Scott Meyer and his strip, “Basic Instructions” which he’s been doing since 2003 and which inexplicably is not as popular as “Peanuts.” (The current strip hits very close to home because my friend Matt and I have a number of running-jokes that we both find hilarious while our friends definitely do not.)

I even posted a few "Basic Instructions" that I found the funniest. Three of them were about cats; Meyer has a thing about cats, evidently.

The subject of one of the cartoons was “How To Express Condolences.” In it, Meyer was on the phone, holding his own cat while consoling a friend on the death of his.

Meyer: Look at it this way, now you can get a new cat. One that’s more durable!
Friend: A heavy duty cat.
Meyer: Exactly.

That’s bad enough. Meyer continues to express his version of “condolences.”

Meyer: If I can help in any way, just say the word.
Friend: Can I come over and play with your cat?
Meyer: Ooh, I dunno. You don’t have a great track record with cats.

Later that very same day, a blogger friend name Michael published a post entitled “Family Shrinkage” in his own blog, Megaloi. No, it wasn’t about him and his brothers swimming in a cold ocean, but rather about what an awful position he was thrust into when he had to put their two cats to sleep.

Yeah, ouch.

It is one of Michael's typically touching posts. He has a knack for writing things that tug on your heartstrings. Read it here.

Talk about bad timing! I’m sure the Scott Meyer cartoons in my blog were anything but funny to Michael under the circumstances. I did not post a comment to Michael's story. If I did, I'd probably say something stupid like, "As hard as that was, I do hope you get the kids a couple of new cats."

To which I'm sure he'd be thinking, "Oh really, Bob? More durable cats this time, you heartless sonovabitch?" (Michael does not write that way, and I'm certain that he does not think or speak that way either.)

I don’t have pets. I don’t like pets. I get too attached to them. Then there’s always that time when you have to say good-bye. And yeah, I know that such things are a natural part of life, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Pets really do become part of the family, and it is so extremely sad when they die…or when you move and have to give them up.

(My family, knowing what’s coming next, are already grimacing and rolling their eyes. “Oh no, not the Rexy story again. Please, for the love of God, let it go, Bob.”)

We lived in the Bronx when I was a kid. We had a dog for a long time, a mutt. Nothing special, but great dog, you know the kind. Then we moved into Manhattan, to an apartment that didn’t allow pets. For a short time, Rex lived temporarily in the family car or spent overnights at the apartments of other relatives who likewise could not keep him. But that was not right, nor was it fair to the dog. Eventually there was simply no choice, he had to go. It was tough on all of us, unbearably so. Eventually, I did what had to be done and took him to the ASPCA. After that I said, “That's it, no more pets!” It's a vow I have kept for nearly thirty-five years.

And now you know why I’m so callous to pets, and/or so screwed-up. I understand how people get attached to their dogs and cats. I go to their houses and I pretend to like them. But inside, I’m like, “Yeah, yeah, nice doggie, now go away.” I can fully sympathize with Michael, and what he had to do that day. I know how heartbroken he must have been.

Fortunately, the rest of my family does not suffer the same psychological damage as me.


Hal Johnson said...

Oh damn, Bob. I think I know where you're coming from. One of my dogs, my main fur buddy, died last year. My favorite llama died two months ago. When I think of them gone, I feel like I'm eight years old again.

And yet, I still have pets. I'll someday probably get another dog, and put my heart out there to get stomped on again.

Is it worth it? I'll have to get back to you on that. Lets get together for drinks when we're in our seventies. Maybe by then, I'll have a better handle on what life gives, and what life takes away.

Redlefty said...

Let me at the drinking table, too!

And I truly thought the comics were hilarious. I'd never even thought about the timing of it all until you mentioned it. For me, the humor was in a separate mental bucket from the personal situation. If I was supposed to be offended then I have failed miserably.

And strangely the kids haven't even mentioned the cats. I guess this won't turn out to be quite as powerful an experience for them, compared to your Rexy story.

So get over the awkwardness already, if you still feel it, because you and me were cool the whole time. :)

Bob Barbanes said...

Thanks, Michael. No awkwardness, I just felt bad about the timing, of which you can never know in advance. Hey, maybe if Hal can route one of his go-home flights through Houston we can one day get together for that drink to our dead pets?

And Hal, if we wait to do it when we're in or 70's, I'll bring the guitar! Maybe I'll have learned "Wildfire" by then. "Cat's In The Cradle?" "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo?" No! I've got it! The best pet/guitar hero song EVER! "Cat Scratch Fever."

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain, Bob.

First we got the shep/lab mix puppy from North Shore animal Shelter on LI for the kids. Ended up biting people and the wife found a rescue person to take it (rather, me) for $300 AND the dog crate ($75 bucs). Yikes!

Then we get the Golden Retriever pup for $350, supposed to be great with kids. Not! Biting everyone hard... had to put it down. Yikes!

Wife and kids talk me into another. This time a Jack Russell, rough fur, who is a pip! Great dog, lots of fun! He is a rip!

So, moral of the story, for what it's worth... we all just have to move on from the tough ones.

But, I also could use a drink, or 2, maybe before my 70th. :)


Hal Johnson said...

Hey, Houston could be done. Maybe we'll have to have a "safety meeting" before we're in our seventies. Would the boss let you take the 206?

David said...

I just wanna hear you play AND belt out Cat Scratch Fever!
Timing is timing and ya just never know until after the release.
Glad to hear all is tranquilo.

Guanaja Sharon said...

OK Bob, now I know why you had that "Now I have to sit here and pretend I like the animals" look when you visited with us on the porch surrounded by our 4 dogs, 4 birds, 2 cats and loads of hummingbirds. Yes, lots of responsibility but lots of love in return. Hey, we all gotta go some day why not have someone/something around that gives total unconditional love?

Bob Barbanes said...

Sharon, you're absolutely right, of course. And it's not like I don't love animals, I do! Just not the idea of *having* a pet. But you know, it's hard to keep a pet when you live alone and are away from home literally half of your life, as I was when I worked a one week-on/one week-off schedule flying out in the Gulf of Mexico. Did that for thirteen years, in fact. So I'm not really a good candidate to be a "pet-guy."

Oh, and Hal? No, the Boss probably won't let me that the ship over to Houston, but as luck would have it, I-10 goes pretty much straight from here to there.