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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Bon Voyage 

With my usual impeccable timing, I’m leaving for Indonesia and Malaysia tonight for a wedding. Some of the wedding party is already there and have reported everything is fine and business as usual where we’ll be. At least until the cholera epidemic commences. I’m hoping this is not yet another bad omen, but I couldn't find my passport last night. Whenever I return from a trip I always throw it in a certain file cabinet drawer but when I tried to find it last night it wasn’t there. Its disappearence caused me to go on a hysterical rampage. After frantically rooting around in my desk and every single file in the cabinet, I still could find no passport. Instead of looking for it in a calm, methodical and orderly fashion, I ransacked drawers and rifled through papers like one of these monkeys that are terrorizing villages in India. After sacking the office, I wept a little bit and then maybe had some diarrhea. In my head I began making wild, shameful and unfounded allegations against our angelic Brazilian cleaning women, accusing her of selling the passport to her sister or being part of a stolen passport ring. I even wailed, “WHY, WHY, WHY” a few times.

I then laid waste to the bedroom. I knocked a ceramic lamp off the chest of drawers while I was rummaging through some papers on the nightstand and it shattered. E lamented, “That lamp, like 3, was just too good for this world.” (She had just watched the Dale Earnhardt biopic.) I decided to check the drawer one more time, which I was now convinced was some sort of hungry, sucking hole to another dimension, and found the passport. It had suctioned itself onto the side of the cabinet and camouflaged itself perfectly there like a gecko.

Speaking of, the last time we were in Bali we were kept up at night on several occasions by raucous geckos in our hotel room. The gecko would windup with a, “gahgahgahGAHGAHGAHGECKO.” It would then scream, “GECKO” every 40 seconds or so like a smoke alarm with a dying battery, making sleep an impossibility. We assumed that anything that could make that much noise must be the size of a Komodo Dragon, and lay there in the bed terrified of the monster we must be sharing the hotel room with, but the next morning we would find the vociferous devil somewhere on the wall and he would be the size of my pinkie, adorable and sleepy as it was settling down to go to sleep (geckos are nocturnal). I don’t know what amplification properties these little lizards have but they are amazing.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Ladies Man 

My cousin met up with an old summer camp friend in Dallas that she hadn't seen in years. As they were reminiscing at a bar, a smooth operating ladies man named Brooklyn kept trying to chat them up. He was beginning to pester them so my cousin gave him the brush off by telling him that she and her friend needed to talk alone because they couldn't decide what to get their grandmother for Christmas.

Brooklyn scratched his head and pondered for a moment and then said helpfully, "I think you ladies should get your grandmother a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Special Label and a housecoat."

Which, come to think of it, would be exactly the kind of gifts my grandmother, a Scotch drinker, would appreciate. When I was staying at her house I grabbed the milk out of the refrigerator and noticed that its original cap, which presumably was lost, had been replaced by a Johnny Walker Red cap. It fit perfectly, just like it was made for it.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

NARIZ NAVIDAD 

E reported that as one of our local homeless men was pandhandling he was lustily caroling the neighborhood with his own garbled version of Jose Feliciano's bilingual Christmas classic Feliz Navidad. He got most of the carol right but swapped Feliz for Nariz, which is also a Spanish word but alters the meaning of the song a bit, since it means 'nose,' not 'merry.'
I have G.T.T. to be with my bloods but will fly back home today.
So, Nariz Narvidad, all! I hope everyone is having a wonderful holidays.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Merry XXXmas 

A friend of mine in Virginia had a shiftless, ne’er do well uncle who had had estranged himself from his entire family. My friend had only met his uncle once in his life because the uncle, after drifting around for years, had settled far away in Nebraska to work in the dog food factories of Purina Mills. My friend’s grandfather's time was drawing near and his estranged son realized that he better begin insinuating himself back into his father's graces before the distribution of the estate. With visions of a future prodigal son's tearful welcome home as well as a sizable inheritance, he sent a home video for the Virginia family to watch as a Christmas card/peace offering. The VHS tape arrived and the Virginia family all gathered around to watch their uncle and his fifth or sixth wife’s holiday video.

Unfortunately, the uncle was so cheap that he chose to reuse a tape rather than waste a fresh one. It's a shame that he chose to economize in this way, because as the tape began the entire family was treated to raunchy amateur porn starring their uncle and his current wife, who had apparently setup a tripod in front of their bed. After about 5 seconds of "Your Friends and Neighbors" style lovemaking the tape cut off, followed by some static and the scene the uncle obviously meant to send, of him in a Santa Hat waving to the camera, giving a tour of his home decorated with Yuletide cheer.

My friend and his sister howled and screamed with laughter, while their mother said with prim fury, "I don't find that funny AT ALL." The grandfather just turned ashen, so I doubt the uncle succeeded in ingratiating himself.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Asset Forfeiture 

However squalid and sordid the content of the undercover wire tapes may have been, they weren't boring. Meanwhile, all my friends who had also recently graduated were about to gnaw through the veins of their wrists because of the drudgery and tedium of their retail and entry level bank jobs. Now I didn’t care what was waiting for me at work - I was just so grateful not to be working retail at the mall. Sales clerking for Carroll Reed remains to this day the worst job I’ve ever had, and that includes the summer in Colorado when I held a job at both Pizza Hut and Dairy Queen (My Summer of Voluptuousness) and the Christmas break when I worked in the back rooms of Honey Hams blowtorching sugar onto hams for 12 hours straight a day during the seasonal rush. This is the ‘honeying’ process. (Ooops! Did I just reveal a trade secret? I think I even had to sign a non-disclosure on that one.) When I would walk home from that job I reeked so strongly of sugary ham that dogs would howl and chase after me like I was a dog in heat.

Besides learning some practical office skills, I also mastered the metric system from converting all of the various weights and measurements (ounces to grams, etc.) of seized drugs for the narcotic’s officers’ monthly statistic reports. At last I learned what the inneffectual Jimmy Carter never had the balls to force me and the rest of America learn in the 70s. I also provided entertainment to my friends whom I used to do drugs with who enjoyed calling and snickering when I answered the phone "Narcotics." Oh, how I adored my job.

One aspect of my job that I felt terrible about was typing up inventories of people’s belongings seized under asset forfeiture, one of the most insidious weapons yet in the arsenal of the War on Drugs. If the insanely destructive and unfair policy of mandatory sentencing is the Agent Orange in the War on Drugs, then asset forfeiture is the Napalm. I also believe it is highly contradictory to what our founding fathers believed, but I guess that all goes out the window what when you go to war against your own citizens. The theory behind it was that by confiscating kingpin’s ill gotten gains through asset forfeiture, agencies would hit the bad guys were it would hurt and the proceeds would be funneled back into the war. It was supposed to be used against big time dealers, the Tony Montana types who have chained tigers at their weddings and live in vulgar, over the top yet strangely fabulous mansions. That's not the case at all. Small time dealers get all of their property seized, including cars, houses, IRA accounts and family farms. It's a cash cow, and it leads to corruption, inevitably. Departments grow fat and come to rely on it. At the time I worked at the Sheriff’s Office, any proceeds from seized items were required to be used by the agency that seized it, and they would end up buying equipment and funding positions they didn’t really need even though there were other departments overwhelmed and drowning. Asset Forfeiture creates and then feeds the big anti-drug industrial complex: surveillance equipment/helicopter/gun manufacturers, the prison systems to warehouse these (for the most part) non violent people, etc. Many people's jobs and industries that rely on the War on Drugs continuing have become a strong force against any sort of reform or legalization. To be continued…

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Bringing Down the Medillin Cartel, Part II 

HARDLY.

During the time the Sheriff’s Office employed the Professional Confidential Informant, I was kept busy transcribing tapes of the pressured speech of 'poor white' crack users on their meandering quests to re-up. Since the CI and the suspect were usually wired in more ways than one, their missions were not well thought out and they would spend many talkative hours trolling the county's seedy neighborhoods, apartment complexes and trailer parks. The strategy for their errand was very scatter shot and time consuming, so much so that finding the drugs must have been like a full time job for them. Actually, it was their full time job, since every single one of them eventually revealed during their conversations that they collected welfare and food stamps, which most of the dealers would take as currency for crack. As the suspects jabbered away they would reveal all sorts of incriminating details about their lives that made it very hard to feel too sorry for them or for me to remain a bleeding heart Democrat. It was too bad for the targets that their drug use didn’t make them more paranoid of the Judas driving in the car with them. I noticed that white people in general seemed a little more complacent and less wary than African-Americans, whose community had already been the target of several drug sweeps. Since the CI was white he could only sucker other whites into procuring drugs for him, and what dumb, luckless white trash they were.

The CI showed me how he would put his targets at ease. When the pigeon would get in the car, the CI would show them a Santa doll (this was around the holidays).

“Look here what I got my old lady for Christmas.”

He would then pull down the Santa doll’s pants to reveal a grotesquely large penis. An anatomically exaggerated Santa Claus doll was apparently the height of hilarity and they would both cackle and slap their knees for about 5 minutes. The transcript would go something like:

CI: {...LAUGHING...} Isn't that motherfucker the best? {...LAUGHING...}
SUSPECT: {...LAUGHING...} Where did you find that motherfucker? {...LAUGHING...}
CI: {...LAUGHING...} This motherfucking store. {...LAUGHING...}
SUSPECT: {...LAUGHING...} Goddamn, that motherfucker's funny. {...LAUGHING...}
CI: {...LAUGHING...} Sure fucking is.
SUSPECT: I'm going to get me one of those motherfuckers. {...LAUGHING...}
CI: OOOO-WEEE, take a look at that pussy over there!
SUSPECT: I'd like to fuck me that pussy.

After that little ice breaker, the informant and suspect would spend the next 5 or so hours continuing along in this delightful vein and I would have to type every single word of it.

The users were just recreational, as far as you can be a recreational crack user, and none were remotely what you would call a king pin. They were procuring the drug for the CI so they could get a little piece of it as commission. After the CI had collected cases against 15 or so of them, the Narcotics Officers began their arrests. To be continued…

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

She's (working for) the Sheriff! 

The year noneofyourbusiness I graduated from college there was a terrible recession. I know you will find this hard to believe, but even though I had a very hot ticket B.A. in History from an anachronistic all girls finishing school, I was not courted heavily by any Fortune 500 companies. Instead of trying to find adult work, I decided to give myself one last summer as a counselor at a summer camp that I had attended since I was seven. That year I was in charge of a stable of 30 horses and when I wasn’t teaching riding or assigned to cabin duty I had carte blanche with the horses. I spent a lot of my free time racing through the woods and swimming with them in a beautiful private lake, which you do by clinging to their mane as they paddle through the water. I count this as one of my top five experiences of my life. When the summer ended I felt like I had been cast out of heaven into an indifferently cruel world and I had no idea what to do with my life. So I decided to (wince) follow a man and move to Virginia to be near my boyfriend, who still had a couple of years to go in an anachronistic men’s finishing school there.

I had to find work immediately, and out of desperation did so at Carroll Reed, a defunct women's 'sophisticated country casual' clothing store, where my boyfriend’s mother shopped for the lion’s share of her wardrobe. Working retail is just the pits, especially at a strip mall. I've never worked a worse job - the minimum wage salary, the fussy, humorless female supervisors who believe in the company's mission like it's holy writ, the incessant sweater folding and hanging up of clothes, the standing on your feet all day, the boring product. Because it was the South, the customers at least had manners and were pleasant to deal with, but I was still utterly miserable.

One day before an evening shift I watched Miller’s Crossing, and found myself sobbing during the scene when Gabriel Byrne takes John Turturro out to the woods to shoot him. Turturro is begging for his life, pleading and sobbing on his knees for Byrne not to kill him like some kind of animal there in the woods. And I was sobbing right along with him, not because of the intensity of the scene or because I felt the least bit sorry for that weasel Turturro, whom Byrne should have shot through the temple without hesitation, but because the woods were so beautiful and I would have given anything to be there in the woods rather than have to leave to go to work in a mall in a chain store under hideous fluorescent lighting.

Before I became too despondent, my boyfriend’s father, the former attorney of a rural county, helped me acquire my first real office job as a clerk for the Sheriff’s Office. Thanks to a little country cronyism, I was to be a foot soldier, or more aptly a file clerk, in this country’s glorious War on Drugs. The job was funded by a federal grant and my responsibility was to manage a primitive software program called Drug Trak. I was to enter data and old case file information about drug dealers and suspects into the database. Aside from marijuana growing and some small time crack dealing (this was before meth really hit it big), drug trafficking was practically non existent and my position was completely unnecessary. I adored my sinecure, though, especially the narcotics officers, who were good old boys in the best sense: courteous rednecks. They primarily worked nights or out in the field and I rarely saw them except when they passed through the office to throw work at me. I would type up a report for them or to do their monthly statistics or for them while they good naturedly sexually harassed me. I thought they were great and loved teasing them about their latest unconvincing biker mustaches and goatees that they would grow and shave to disguise themselves. Since the country wasn’t a hot bed of drug activity, I was left with a lot of time on my hands, unsupervised and alone in the little narcotics room, which was basically a small office with a computer and a bunch of file cabinets. I used the ample downtime to teach myself WordPerfect and read books of monstrous length like Shogun and the complete works of Ayn Rand, which I found HI-larious. I guess I had missed the small window of the personal development stage (around 14-16 years of age, I believe, the acme of teenage asshole selfishness) when you can actually take her philosophy seriously.

Then the county hired a free lance confidential informant. Most confidential informants are criminals themselves - we're talking real scum of the earth. They move into a community, befriend other dirtbags, get them to sell them drugs while they wear a wire, testify in court against them, collect their money and then head on to the next town. I thought it was a sleazy practice, practically entrapment, but it’s a common tool in our illustrious War on Drugs. So, our confidential informant would wear a wire and go cruising for drugs with addicts. These were no kingpins - they were mostly addicts themselves who wanted to procure drugs for the CI so they could earn a little bit for themselves. The CI and his target would sometimes drive around for hours searching for drugs, and my main job became transcribing these conversations, some of them lasting for hours. I had to type every single tedious word or else the tapes would be inadmissible in court. I became an expert typist and Word Perfect savant. The quality of the conversation of drug addicts was not what you would call elevated or even all that interesting. Often the participants were high on crack and jabbered away at light speed on these nonsensical jags. The word m*therf*cker was used so frequently in their discussion that I taught myself how to make a macro for the word. Most discussions were boring and monotonous, although sometimes they were hilarious. Other times they were horrifying and pitiful. More often they were just plain filthy. Some of these people would spill out their life stories to make conversation, and talk about their kids and family, and I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for their doomed, soon to be mandatorily sentenced asses.
One memorable quote:

“Do you mind if I have a little piece of that rock? I promised my babysitter I would bring her some back.”

While I was reading The Canon and amusing myself rummaging through old case files up in the Narcotics room, the criminal investigators, who were dealing with real crime like rape, homicide, and bad check writing, were drowning in paperwork and desperately in need of some clerical help. That’s when my boss lent my services to them and the real fun began.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Billy and the Angry Inch 

We finally saw Hedwig and the Angry Inch last Saturday, and it has been playing practically non stop on the Tivo ever since, which forces anybody else who wanders into the apartment to watch it as well. I believe my own personal viewing count is something like 15 times. Not only is the story poignant, brilliant and unlike anything I’ve ever seen, it is riddled with some of the most hilarious one-liners I've heard ("After my divorce I scraped by with babysitting gigs and odd jobs - mostly the jobs we call blow.” And what can you say about a movie that has an Israeli drag queen named Kristal Nacht.) I’m not particularly fond of musicals, but I have been humming these beautiful songs, some of which are profound and explain Platonic theory much better than any Philosophy professor I ever had, on a constant loop. The Wig in a Box song has to be one of the most inspirational songs I’ve ever heard about pulling yourself up, dusting yourself off and doing what you have to do to get on with life. It has supplanted my previous favorite song of this type, Bobby Gentry's Fancy, which was covered superbly by Reba McEntire. “I might have been born just plain white trash BUT FANCY WAS MY NAME!” Yeah, she got herself a Georgia mansion and she ain't been back. (Billy Jack was almost named Fancy).

Speaking of, we now are more sympathetic of and sensitive to Billy's behavior problems. E theorizes that this all stems from his botched tail docking when he was a 6 week old puppy. Jack Russells’s tails are docked at 6 weeks, but only partially. Enough tail length is supposed to remain – about 5 inches - so that the tails make a convenient little handle for grabbing them and pulling them out of varmint holes. As you can see from the photograph, Billy’s tail was docked much too short and he has been spiteful and overcompensating ever since.

E has been picking Billy up and singing, “6 inches forward and 5 inches back. Billy's got an angry inch, an angry inch!” Anyway, I can't believe Rachel Griffiths didn't get an academy award for her portrayal of the transexual Hedwig. She was amazing. I'm just kidding, but you have to admit the resemblance is remarkable.

Drag queens have always fascinated me. Many of them patronize this branch and even if they are not in their full raiment they are still glamorous creatures to behold. It’s almost like they are a third sex – a combination of female and male, like angels are purported to be. Two like to come in the branch together. They are never seen without their platform heels which make them both about seven feet tall each. They take my breath away, like I'm in the presence of a fallen archangel or some larger than life being or royalty (they're not called queens for nothing). Their vanity, their star power, their overall fabulousness, their supermodel size hips, awe me. I also love their eviscerating humor. They have the feminine catty, cruel streak combined with a man’s physical power and ruthlessness. And they are not to be messed with, sister. They wouldn’t hesitate to rake their Mandarin length nails across one's face, and since they possess a man's strength, this would probably be mortal wound. I can understand why men like Eddie Murphy cruise them – it would be like having sex with some kind of fantastical creature. When they come in I always waive their fines because as that homosexual sage Buddy Cole cautions, "An angry drag queen is scarier than a minotaur!"

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Serenity in 2005 

All I want for Christmas is botox injected into my face. I want it in extreme quantities, the kind of amount that would lay waste to an entire Medieval banquet of revelers after they had ingested the tainted, improperly preserved venison. I don’t want the procedure solely for vanity, although I am certainly guilty of that little vice (and wish that more of my colleagues were as well), but for professional reasons. One of my New Year’s goals is to improve my game face/professional composure when I am on reference duty. I don’t want any facial tells betraying my shock, confusion or alarm. I aspire to be like a professional poker player or a priest or cop who has heard it all and is impossible to shock anymore. I want my face to register only a beatific serenity, even as I am picking up the phone to dial 911.

Some patron encounters at the reference desk in 2004 that have caused my composure to slip:

  • When an elderly female scholar declared that manatees have milk producing breasts and that is why lonely sailors would drag them on board the ship to have sex with them.


  • When a man with a Serbian accent expounded on his theories that Jews all go into the medical profession because they suffer from the most diseases. Then he asked indignantly why we didn’t have a copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.


  • When the woman wanted the name of the government program in which you rent your house to the army so it can store surplus weapons in it. There was a lot of exasperation and attitude when I didn’t know immediately what she was talking about. I never did find out what she was talking about.


  • When a man I had never seen before who demanded that I get that book that he was reading the other day. “It was red. You know the one that I’m talking about.”


  • When the man wanted the exact location and phone number of the radio station that exists under a nearby island because it is transmitting radio signals that his teeth fillings are picking up.


  • When the patron came in and wanted Britney Spears' cell phone number. He gave off a lot of creepy stalker agitation when I told him that it was unlisted and impossible to obtain.


  • When a regular patron wanted to know if I could pay his utility bill that month. He told me that he was good for it.


  • When the Vietnam Vet asked me how to obtain government subsidies to grow marijuana.


  • When a little girl wanted the Polar Express on DVD. But it is too out on DVD - she just saw it for sale on the street.


  • When the type-A soccer mom wanted a Charlotte’s Web with an alternate ending in which the spider doesn’t die.


  • When a patron with a history of scary behavior problems threatened to call the ACLU and the Human Right's Commission because I forbade him to scream the F word in a library. He has now cut his hair in a flat top crew cut and is resembling Michael Douglas' character in Falling Down more each day. I fear that I now personify 'the system' and he thinks of me as the agent and cause of all failures in his sad life.


  • Tuesday, December 07, 2004

    Weeding 

    Librarians have different philosophies regarding the maintenance and weeding of collections. Because I come from a corporate background, I'm a little more ruthless than some of my colleagues in the public sector, where a lot of agonizing and wringing of hands goes into the removal of even a single book from the collection. Not that weeding is a task to be undertaken rashly and thoughtlessly (or with extreme prejudice, which I admit I do with Danielle Steele books), but I don’t see the need to spend 15 irretrievable minutes of one’s life deliberating over a grimy, circa 1980’s Suzanne Sommer's autobiography whose pages are covered with peculiar stains and of which the system has 30 other copies. (Actual incident). Other librarians have to weed on the sly because their managers outright refuse to do so, even if they have been ordered by upper management. To them every book, no matter how outdated, or in what kind condition, is precious and belongs in the collection. It doesn’t matter that carts of new books are languishing in the in the workroom, inaccessible to public, because even with the assistance of a crowbar there is no way to force them onto the groaning shelves. One manager confessed that she couldn't bear to discard any book because she each one was like a child to her, like every act of weeding was as agonizing and horrific as the scene in Sophie’s Choice when she has to decide which one of her children she is to send off to die.

    It’s not as if the discarded books are destined for death camp ovens, or even for the landfill, for that matter. Weeded hardbacks are distributed to various community groups. The only exception is mass market paperbacks, which are ‘recycled.’ Most of these are uncatalogued donations we just throw jumbled together on spinner racks. Some of them circulate hundreds of times and are just not meant to endure so much wear and tear. When they are withdrawn we rip the covers with the library barcode off and then throw the books into the recycling bins like any other paper product. Even this task is too emotional for some of my colleagues. I was at a branch one day and a page was tasked with withdrawing some grungy old paperbacks. I heard some noise from the backroom where she was working. I thought at first she was laughing, but then I realized that she was crying. I asked her what on earth was the matter and she said, “It’s just so sad. I can’t stand destroying books!” I stood there dumbfounded while she worked herself up into quite a state. Her lamentations and caterwauling became so disruptive that the manager finally sent her home to pull herself together. I'm not making this up. To be fair, she does have a history of behavior problems, but come now. She'll probably be promoted to management soon.

    Saturday, December 04, 2004

    The Latest News from Skidrowbegon 

    Last reported, local street minx Loretta had been evicted from her 4th residential hotel room. Loretta was cast out because of her Looking for Mr. Goodbar habit of cruising and picking up fellow vagrants. When she is living in the park she entertains them in the public restroom stall, much to the horror and amazement of passersby, but when she has a room she entices them back there with her ample (Loretta weighs about 250 pounds) boozy charm. After working up an appetite with lots of raucous love making, she and her beau of the moment typically cook up a little something to eat on the fire hazard hotplate. They will then pair their meal with about 10 bottles of Ripple and maybe some crack. Loretta is not always a happy drunk, however, and some drunken misunderstanding inevitably ensues which then leads to a murderous fight. Loretta is real a wildcat and the police always have to come referee and let me tell you from my days as a clerk at the Sheriff’s Office there is nothing cops hate more than a domestic. These residential hotel rooms are provided and paid by the city’s taxpayers, but because this city is truly enabling and codependent, it has decided to give her just one more chance (and they REALLY mean it this time) at a room under the strict condition she has absolutely no visitors.

    Loretta, like a puffy incarnation of Donatello's Repentant Magdalene, was quite the picture of pathos as she and her stolen Safeway cart brimming with her urine soaked blankets wended their way toward the park. Even if the taxpayer has to underwrite it, I can’t help but be glad that she is being given one more chance to be off the streets now that winter is here.

    Loretta's comrade Steve-o took the loss of Punky particularly hard, and vanished from the neighborhood like so much crack smoke in the wind shortly after Punky's untimely death. I feared the worst, although I really shouldn't have, because his type seems to disappear and return cyclically and unwelcomingly, like a herpes outbreak. The Feisty Old Broad informed me that Steve-o has been emotionally and spiritually convalescing in HAWAII. He used his new SSI income to finance his vacation.

    Thursday, December 02, 2004

    Spanky, the Black Narcissus 

    One day my mom found a note in my aunt's car that read:

    Whacker Farm
    Intercourse, Pennsylvania
    Bring $500 cash


    Before she became filled with grave misgiving about what my aunt might be up to, she made the connection between the note and my aunt's errand to Pennsylvania Dutch country to purchase a Schipperke dog a few weeks before. When my aunt took the tiny puppy, then about the size of a goose's egg, for its first vet visit he asked her where it had come from. When she told him that she purchased it from a nice Amish farm he screamed, "How could you! The Amish run horrible puppy mills! They are notorious! The most defective animals I've ever treated come from the Amish. I wish you luck with this animal – you’re going to need it!" Although you would think that the Amish would practice sound animal husbandry and would be above impure motivations like money they apparently are not.

    Spanky is a testament to the amazing power of human love, and by that I mean that it's amazing how human beings have the capacity to love and mother anything, no matter how dangerous or monstrous that creature may be. Spanky was the runt of her litter and even now is only 7 pounds, which has probably been the only reason my aunt has not been forced by the authorities to destroy her. Spanky has a horrible fear of children (we suspect she was tortured by the Amish children who were charged with raising her) which she expresses by trying to kill them. Any time a child visits Spanky has to be locked securely away behind several doors. Schipperkes are difficult dogs anyway - I understand the breed rescue organization is quite active – and Spanky is no exception. Although she is intelligent and cunning, there is a strange absence of emotional connection, like she has a canine form of Asperger’s. It’s like having a dangerously undomesticated animal around. I liken her to a cross between a javelina and a scorpion.

    Spanky is an inky black imp that zips and flits about my aunt’s floor and furniture. E said she reminds her of one of the creatures unleashed when Pandora opened the box. She shrieks and twists like a mandrake root if anyone besides my aunt tries to pick her up or breaches her personal space, which is arbitrary and constantly shifting. She also has several territorial spheres/No Man's Lands surrounding her food bowl, tennis ball and the BBQ grill. If anyone intrudes, even innocently, she will charge and bite them like a black mamba. Every one of us, with the exception of my aunt, has been bitten at least once, including my cousin through the lip when she bent down to kiss her goodnight.

    Several pet names for her:
    Spooky, Sketchy, Shrieky, Squealy, The Black Narcissus, Satan's Merkin

    One day I was sitting on the couch and looked down and noticed Spanky had raised her tiny hind leg, the size and weight of a green bean, and rested it upon my foot. I first thought she was raising her leg to urinate on me like a male because she is so aggressively masculine, but my aunt explained that Spanky was dominating me. This was her way of displaying that she was the boss of me. After she made me her bitch, she actually allowed me to hold her in my lap. Her heartbeat was impossibly fast, like a shrew or hummingbird's.

    Although Spanky is terrifying, she’s also exciting to be around because she is so fascinatingly, dangerously unpredictable. She genuinely does love my aunt and adds an element of thrilling excitement to my visits to her house, like a trip to a Fun House where things pop out at you. When we visit she hates the disruption in routine, though, and a few Thanksgivings ago expressed her displeasure symbolically by diarrheaing all over the welcome mat.

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