Wow! Two months of gloom and doom essays. I can hear you saying, “Give me a break – doesn’t this guy (Ken) ever smile or laugh?” Well, yeah. So I’m going to lighten up. Let’s see what happens.
First, a few lines are taken from the Prologue in Goethe’s Faust which I modified and expanded.
The Devil tells God. “It’s funny, every time man tries jumping towards Heaven he always lands with his nose in a cowpie, just like a grasshopper.”
God smiles, raises an eyebrow, and refrains from saying this is all part of His Divine Plan.
Man picks himself up, brushes off his clothes, and walks away without consulting the grasshopper or the cowpie.
Meanwhile, back here in Milwaukee, we have a beagle named Somae. I usually take her for her first walk between 9 and 10 AM; I’m not a morning person and that can be a challenge. A couple of weeks back, I got her poop-bag from the side of the front porch while she went ahead by herself to the corner.
Since I’m conscious of the environment, I’ll often use the same bag on later walks, sometimes repurposing the sleeve from the Sunday paper. If the sleeve is ripped at one end, I’ll tie a knot to cinch it.
Somae waited at the corner and I grabbed her leash, looking both ways for traffic and then at the bag in my hand planning to unknot the top. She often takes care of business soon after crossing the street and I wanted to be ready for action. The knot was tight and I wedged the leash under my arm so I could use both hands. A little light bulb goes off in my head. I had the bag upside down. A slightly bigger bulb then flashes. The bag is the one I had used late last night. I had picked it up the wrong way and it was now empty.
We live on a corner and there was no poop behind me on the public sidewalk so it had to be somewhere back on my front walkway where it could wait until we finished this walk. I had to laugh; life may be shitty but at least I had remembered to lace up my boots. If I had left them open as kids sometimes do as a style statement, the poop could have landed in the turned-back tops and never hit the ground.
By the time we finished her walk, I thought of the story above and was glad Somae was not a cow; cowpies would have been a challenge any way you look at it.
TAKEAWAY: We can learn from everything. If we look at things in the right light, they can be funny. We all have to learn to smile and laugh more often and remember, when we fall in shit, we can get up, brush ourselves off, and continue trekking. Do the laughing ourselves; it’s all part of life.
In case you’re wondering, I did find the poop to the side of my front steps and scooped it up. All’s well that ends well.
Once again I’ve something below the line.
While this essay was aging in my back brain, I came up with the idea that you should come up with your own takeback. Meanwhile, a memory was pushing its way out to my front brain, a pleasant one that always brought smiles when I remembered it. It’s about cowpies, sort of, and may have been the unconscious inspiration for this essay.
When I was a kid, my father brought home a puppy from where he worked in the city. No mean feat since it was better than an hour ride on the train and bus and he didn’t have any carrier with him when he came in the door. It took a while, but eventually, the dog, whose name must remain hidden for reasons of computer security questions, was housebroken. It was time to visit our relatives. Both my parents came from large families so there were plenty of aunts and uncles we could visit.
Unbeknownst to my mother (at first), my father had bought a very authentic-looking plastic mound of dog poop. He would eventually leave it on a rug near the front door where we were visiting and when he “found” it would “yell” at the naughty dog, pointing to the poop and shouting at the dog. Naturally, our relatives would be upset, until he bent over and picked up the poop in his hand and we all broke out in laughs. We were asked to leave the dog home after that and the word got out.
Now it’s your turn to search your memory banks for something that you may have forgotten that can bring about a smile or a contented sigh. It’ll become another TAKEBACK, a piece of yourself that you’ve now reclaimed.
How about we up the ante. Try working through some of this with a friend over a cup of coffee or a beer (I live in Milwaukee and am a homebrewer so it’s got to be a beer if you’re drinking). Help him/her recall something fun and we’ll call this a GIVEBACK. It’s always nicest when we help others.
Ken was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, and an IBMer until downsized in 2000. He taught yoga until COVID-19 decided otherwise. He continues writing, living with his wife and beagle in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He’s a homebrewer and runs whitewater rivers. Ken is a writer and his literary works can be found at https://www.kmkbooks.com/
He welcomes feedback on his articles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.