Software Quality Engineer, author of fun short stories and painter of positive images. See http://www.tfom.net for more details.
Example short story: Biscuits
Some people look at my dog and they are appalled by his fatness. I admit he is a happy fat dog, but he does get walked. He gets some agility training, too. But he never ever gets ‘dog food’. As long as I have lived on my own, I’ve had my dog, but never have I allowed dog food in my house. Human food is all we eat. It’s a health issue.
I don’t go to the pet store. I don’t even go down the pet food isle at the grocery store. There’s a pet food smell that permeates all of it, and I never want to experience that smell again.
Back when I was young, too young to look beyond my own adoration for my parents, they took advantage of me in a sick, sick fashion. They look back at it and laugh. They call it harmless fun, but I ask you to be the judge.
Back then, a fun Saturday morning for us was a trip to the local farm and feed store. My dad worked there and it was such a great adventure to walk in, holding his hand and mom’s hand, too. The workers always gave us a warm welcome, waving to dad, smiling at mom, and commenting on how much I’d grown since the last Saturday visit. It was the excitement of being a young family on an adventure together.
The feed and farm store was huge, with a two-story tall ceiling. It had rows and rows of barn supplies and animal feed. There was a smell of hay and earth throughout the place. Up in the rafters, small groups of Chickadees cheerfully raced from beam to beam. It was the place I learned to count up to five. Dad would start me with row one and go up to row five, not just counting, but also explaining the stock of each row. Row one held nails and screws; row two contained hinges and brackets. Dad said rows three and four were for the cowboys. Three had all sizes of ropes, along with bridles and leather gloves. Row four had saddle goods and accessories. Five had canine treats and toys.
Maybe it was my fault. Mom says I was pretending to be a dog. Don’t all kids do that? She says we were walking down row five and when I noticed all the puppies and pooches on the boxes and bags, I got down on my hands and knees. I started barking and panting. “Oh…what a cute puppy” she said. I barked. “I bet you’re a good little puppy” she replied. As she grabbed a chew toy off the shelf, she asked “How about a toy, puppy?” I shook my head ‘no’ and barked. She grabbed another one, “How about this one?” I barked ‘no’ again. She paused and looked around. “Hmmm. ..how about a treat?”
Who says no to a treat? So while I was enthusiastically barking and spinning around in anticipation of my treat, she grabbed and opened a box of Kennel Corner’s Better Biscuits. I stopped spinning when I saw she held a treat in her hand. Still playing the dog, I barked and begged. She gave me my first, but not last, dog biscuit. It was dry and crunchy and not at all sweet. Looking back, it really wasn’t much of a treat. Mom patted me on the head, and as dad came around the corner and down the aisle, mom told me to stand up, then she closed up the box and put it back on the shelf.
For the next two years, we made many of our Saturdays special by going to dad’s workplace. Even though Saturday was dad’s day off, he sometimes would help customers, folks that he knew. If he went off with the customer, mom and I would usually find our way to row five. When I was a good puppy, I’d get a treat. It wasn’t always Kennel Corner biscuits. Sometimes it was Alpo Tasty Treats or Furminator Dog Bites. Once it was Mr. Eds Natural Biscuits. I actually gagged on one of those. Good thing, too, because I later found out they contained horse parts.
I cried on the Saturday morning I found out my dad had changed jobs and we would not be going on our adventures anymore. Mom must have suspected my devastation because after she dried my tears, from her apron pocket she pulled one last treat. I wanted to wolf it down in anger, but I knew it really was my last treat so I had better savor it, just nibble away at it. Plus, I knew very well that those biscuits were dirt-clod hard and too dry to take in big bites.
I had completely forgotten all of this until I moved out on my own. At 23, I had just started renting one side of a duplex. One evening after work, I was out front watering the lawn. A stray dog, a very scruffy looking Spaniel and something mix, came trotting down the block. I watched him as he went past tree after tree without stopping. When he got to my driveway, he sat down right in front of me. He looked up at me and tilted his head as if I’d just said ‘hippopotamus”. I asked him if he was hungry. He sure looked it. He barked and spun around in a circle. Without really thinking, I said “Oh what a cute puppy. I bet you want a treat!”
That broke it for me. Memories of the feed and farm supply store raced into my mind. My mouth went dog-biscuit dry and I may have let out a little yelp. In an instant, I knew I wasn’t ever going to give him or any other dog of mine a “treat”. I marched into the kitchen and from the refrigerator I grabbed an unopened package of Kraft American Cheese Singles, a 16 pack. On my way back out the front, I went through the garage and picked up my new lawn chair. At the driveway, I snapped it open and plopped down in it. With a glutinous resolve, I tore open the cheese pack. My new dog, “Scotty”, and I easily made our way through that pack of 16, and we’ve lived happily off human food ever since. It’s a health issue.