Tuesday, June 18, 2019

David Norris writes

Dawg Days

You ever find yourself messing up like a big dawg when all you were trying to do was your best? You don’t even have to answer that question because I know the answer is yes. 

There you were, putting your best foot forward, minding your P’s and Q’s, when you stuck your big foot right in your mouth and nearly choked on it, sitting there flustered, trying to swallow your own words. I know; I’ve been there. I’ve been there for a day; I’ve been there for weeks when the day kept repeating itself like Bill Murray’s does in the movie Groundhawg Day. Shoot! Sometimes I feel like my whole life has been a Groundhawg Day, with the dead groundhawg tied on a string around my neck, and me forced to wander around the entire earth confessing my sins. My mother used to say we have a curse on us. 

There you sit in the boss’s office, ready to tell her how the changes she’s made at work have made your life better, but you start out by reminding her of how bad things used to be. She doesn’t let you finish. The groundhawg bites her on the leg, and she jumps up screaming at you! Before you realize what has happened, she’s booted you out of her office and slammed the door shut on your backside. No use to say you’re sorry; no use to try and say now what you should have said in the first place. You’ve just been dawged out. 

Or how about following all that good advice that people give us? I can remember when I was a boy of about twelve or thirteen. A big kid named Earl kept picking on me, and I told my granddaddy Bud about it. Bud said there was no problem: all I had to do was lie in wait to ambush my adversary, tackle him, and get on top of him, and then beat him while he was down. This sounded like a good plan to me. 

So one muggy fall afternoon, I was the first one off when the school bus stopped. And when Big Earl, one head taller and thirty pounds heavier than I am, came stepping down, I ran up behind him and sliced his legs out from under him with a rolling body block. Even a little guy can bring a big guy down if he hits him low and hard. He hit the ground with a great big WHUUFFF and somehow ended up on his back with me on his chest, both my knees on his shoulders, just whaling away. 

He put up with this for about fifteen seconds, just long enough for me to think it might work. Then he rather casually reached up, grabbed me by the shirt collar, flicked me off as if I were a bug, and proceeded to beat the daylights out of me. When I finally staggered home towards sundown, my face would have had to be searched for places that weren’t black and blue. I looked Bud hard in the eyes and said, “So much for your big ideas.” I dawged him out. 

And how about these days of being politically correct?

We live in a time when the toilets have become Female and Male, such ugly words to attach to ourselves, terms best saved for a biology lab. We have become a society afraid to be categorized by the gentility of ladies and gentlemen or the vigor of women and men. 

No, it’s a flavorless creature instead who walks out of today’s lavatory into the rooms and hallways, onto the busy streets of the modern world. The males greet the females, afraid to say “lady,” knowing full well not to dare say “girl,” and never, never, never, in a milllliioon years, even dream of saying “baby.” And with our lovers, where can love go when we can’t call one another pet names? Is it only in our songs that men still say, “C’mere, babe,” “Hey, doll,” “Be my lovergirl,” or “You my baby?” We’ve dawged ourselves out on that one. 

I might not know many things, but I do know one thing: there’s no shortage of dawg stories. As long as there have been people on this earth, there have been dawgs biting them. And still we go on, limping when one bites us on the foot, covering our behinds when one snaps at the seat of our pants, jumping out of the way when one goes for our throats. We have work dawg stories, we have family dawg stories, we have lover dawg stories. We have a dawg story for everything we have and everything we don’t have. 

That’s why I don’t own a dog any more.

1 comment:

  1. Since at least 1898 “dawg” has been a facetious spelling of “dog.” To “dawg out” is to insult someone, perhaps but not necessarily in a joking manner.

    “Mind your p’s and q’s is to "mind your manners" or "mind your language," to "be on your best behavior,” to "watch what you're doing." The expression 1st appeared in “The Ghost,” a 1763 poem by satirist Charles Churchill in which he referred to the actor Thomas Sheridan, whose “Lectures on Elocution” (1762) sought to eliminate immorality, ignorance, and false taste by promoting proper discourse: “He knows alone, in proper mode, / How to take vengeance on an ode. /… On all occasions next the chair / He stands for service of the Mayor, / And to instruct him how to use / His As and Bs, and Ps and Qs: O’er letters into tatters worn, / O’er syllables defaced and torn, / O’er words disjointed, and o’er sense / Left destitute of all defence / He strides … / Before him every consonant / In agonies is seen to pant; / Behind, in forms not to be known, / The ghosts of tortured vowels groan.” Apparently the phrase refers to cautioning children who are learning how to spell to be careful how they make their letters (although the same warning could be used to distinguish between b’s and d’s, for instance) or for typesetters, since the backward-facing metal type letters would be especially confusing. It may also have referred to pubs’ keeping track of how many Pints and Quarts their customers consumed.

    In 1993 Harold Ramis directed “Groundhog Day,” a movie about a man who continuously relived the same day; due to its popularity, the expression has become a standard shorthand to describe recurrent unpleasant situations.


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