It is not often that I am able to secure a copy of your magazine which I believe is referred to as “O”. But thanks to my male cat’s urinary tract problem, wherein he’s been peeing continually - and outside the box - for the past two weeks, I was able to glean your latest edition as part of my (repeated) daily visits to clean comforters, blankets, etc at the local laundromat. Here’s the thing: Someone left your magazine next to the soap dispensing machine. It was truly my lucky day.
I wanted to comment on one of the cover articles – Tell Your Story! (a top novelist shows you how) – which I read at least four times. I wish under the stars in heaven that I was able to tell my story too. But I have no story; nothing of a critical nature to relate whatsoever. How does one go about telling a story when there isn’t one? Is it OK to make things up?
Here’s what I mean. Last year my brother and his family came for a visit. It was nice, of course, but not the kind of stuff you would write about. We had a function at my home and invited most of the family (parents, siblings, nieces, nephews) so we could all be together. My family is typical of our nation’s citizens - loving their country and viewing life through the American lens.
And it isn’t easy to arrange a reunion, especially at my home, because I have cats.
And they hate cats.
When my mother arrived, as expected, she retold this one story which takes place just after the war (oh, sorry, I’m referring to WW II) and is about a teenage boy that lived on her block. It seems that every day on his way home from school, the boy would pass by a certain fenced-in yard with a big brown dog, and he’d always tease the animal by poking, barking, and rattling the fence. Some times he would hit the dog with a stick. Other times the boy would bring his friends along to watch the fun.
The dog would go nuts running back and forth trying to defend his territory. The boy did this because, well because, it made him feel like a super power. And he knew he’d be safe…because of the fence and also because the boy was certain the dog was inferior. Best of all, no one would suspect him – or rat him out.
This went on for years. The dog, once quiet and well behaved, became irritable and nasty. The dog’s owners were dismayed at their pet’s unfounded behavior. Because they were at work when the taunting occurred, the owners were unaware and never considered any foul play by their fellow citizen.
At this point, since we had all heard this story many, many times, I tried to change the subject by remarking that my daughter was busy applying to law schools. But that didn’t work.
Because my family hates lawyers.
So my mother continued as if there had been no interruption.
One day the boy was walking home from school and the dog was not in the back yard. Somehow he was able to get outside the fence. Do you know what that dog did when he had the opportunity to attack the person who had made his life miserable? He tore that boy to shreds.
OK so now I tried to move on to a more current topic by remarking that as of yesterday, there were over 4,000 US soldiers killed in Iraq. But that didn’t work.
Because my family hates statistics.
My mother continued.
After the boy was mauled by the dog, he spent months in the hospital, lost part of one ear, and was left with a scar on his face the size of Mississippi. All the neighbors were shocked, and angry at the dog’s owners. How could this happen in their community, in their back yard, for God’s sake? What the hell was wrong with those people?
Who would protect the children?
So, the neighbors – who never again walked through the community without looking over their shoulders - rallied for new laws against terrorizing animals and their owners. Of course, they called for the dog’s death. All similar breeds of dog were suspect from that day forward.
(I’m pretty sure it’s one of the reasons why we’ve never owned a brown dog.)
Then, my mother remarked that she and her friend Martha wanted to go on a trip overseas but they were unsure if it was safe, considering all the bombings.
End of story.
See? Nothing to write about.
After everyone left, I needed to get some fresh air so I took a walk through town. As I passed by the local Burger King, I nodded to myself in agreement reading their sign: Home of the Whopper.