01 February 2008

Bad dog boogaloo


I enter the school lobby on a mission of mercy. I am delivering lunchtime painkillers to the son.

"Mrs. S.?" I hear from behind me.

It is Mrs. R., one of the school administrators, a very genteel and ladylike woman about 10 years my senior with whom I've become friendly during the time the children have been here. She is very precise, very proper, always impeccably groomed, and has a wicked sense of humor.

I walk to her office and say hello. We chat in general terms about the son's progress, but there are other things she wants to discuss.

"We need parents to go and talk to the kids at the Prep about careers, and well," she drops her voice, "you know everyone here is an attorney..."

I will myself to keep a straight face.

"...so I thought I'd give them the spouse's name because he has such an interesting background, and does such interesting things."

"Oh certainly, he'd love to talk to the students," I tell her warmly, knowing full well that he will talk, but not necessarily willingly. Still, I can't be the only one to carry the parental burden around here.

"Well," she continues, "I wanted to give them your name, too, because you also have an unusual background, and do many interesting things. But...I didn't know what to call you. You know, your job title."

"Troublemaker," I tell her unhelpfully.

Mrs. R. lets out the tiniest of ladylike snorts.

The son, arriving in her office and overhearing this exchange, says, "Dad just calls her a Bad Dog*."

I shrug and nod. "There you have it."

Mrs. R. guffaws.

*Bad Dog was originally the appellation of Mitzi, our late American Eskimo. Eskies are a working breed, and the baddest damn dog ever, not to mention the worst damn dog ever (and I say that only slightly tongue-in-cheek). Highly intelligent, highly motivated, full of fun, very loving, practically untrainable unless you sit on them until they recognize your Alpha status (that is, if you have Alpha status). Bad Dogs herd, they are not herded. Bad Dogs obey the letter of the law, though not necessarily the spirit. Bad Dogs roll in the new mown grass until they are green because it is FUN. Bad Dogs are highly responsible, but they need to escape once in awhile and have adventures. Because there is a big world out there. It needs to be seen. It needs to be tended to. It needs to be barked at.

With apologies to Mr. Starr, go listen to some good music: "Back Off Boogaloo" from the album Blast From Your Past by Ringo Starr.

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