Harsh Truths

Kids and parenting…

Fine in the Tub

The Child and the Swedelock were watching some “Bill Nye the Science Guy” together. I hear:

The Child: Daddy, what’s that sound?

The Swedelock: It’s a sound effect.

Child: What’s it for?

SL: Sometimes sound effects are used in an attempt to cover up bad acting.

[I cackle in the other room.]

SL: I guess you heard that? Well, I’m not going to lie to the kid.

These are the hard truths you get when your father has a masters in theatre.

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Making the Saw Sing

The following post is a walk down memory lane. I wrote this piece for a class several years ago, when Maxine Holler was not only alive but her trio played in a restaurant called the Gun Club. The Gun Club has burned down since and I moved away from Beloit. I sincerely hope that Bob DeVita and his saw are still bringing music to the people and a faraway look into their eyes.

The manager at the Ace Hardware store heard some strange sounds coming from one of the aisles, sounds he could not identify. He walked back to make sure everything was all right, and turning the corner, he stopped dead in his tracks. “What on earth is going on here?” A man was sitting on a canvas chair surrounded by several saws and a boy. He had a saw on his lap, its handle wedged between his knees. With his left hand he grabbed the end of the blade, manipulating it to curve into various “s” shapes; with his right hand he moved a violin bow up and down the back of the blade producing the otherworldly sounds. He looked up and flashed a happy smile at the manager. “Oh, we’re just picking an instrument for my student here. I think this will do fine.”

The man, Bob DeVita, is a percussionist educator and performer. Every Saturday night, he plays drums at the Gun Club in Beloit, Wis. as a member of Maxine Holler’s Trio. Their repertoire includes a wide variety of golden oldies. At a certain point of the night, Maxine introduces “Bobby” (Maxine, the piano player, is a good three decades his senior and so is the third member of the trio, Val, the base player) for something a little different. Out comes the saw. The conversation in the bar dies down; the regulars know that they are in for a treat, and the newcomers have an expression on their faces much like the ACE manager’s: “What on earth is going on here?” As the bow releases the notes from the steel blade and a melody wafts off into the smoky air, the smiles still linger but gradually, the bemusement turns into a faraway look in the eyes. There’s something about listening to the saw sing that touches you just so.

It is hard to describe the sound of the saw. Some say eerie; most say “different.” I say it’s the music of the spheres. It’s ethereal and vibrating. For Bob DeVita, it is a perfectly normal melody that requires a great deal of practice to produce. There’s nothing otherworldly to it but rather patience, sweat, and thumb muscle. DeVita, a Rockford, Ill. native, started to play the snare drum when he was 12.   He soon moved on to a drum set, a gift from his parents, and by high school, he and his brother, who plays the guitar, were in a number of rock bands. Not that he considered himself especially talented. “I had to work my tail off,” he says. “That’s why I like to teach. Some musicians can practice an hour; I have to practice three hours. But I tell the kids “With patience, you’ll get the lick.”

He has had both the patience and the dedication; he got his Bachelors degree in music education from Northern Illinois University and his Masters degree from the Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. College years are the time for students to experiment, and DeVita, too, decided to experiment, to pick up something fun on the side. Looking at a mail order musical instrument catalog, he narrowed it down to a bagpipe or a saw. The saw, being only 25 to 30″ long, seemed to be easier to carry around.

It arrived just before winter break, and by Christmas, he taught himself well enough to play “Silent Night” for his family. The family, in turn, stared at him with amused disbelief – a first response he has since grown accustomed to. Soon, the saw played its magic on all of them, and he has had several friends and relatives requesting that he play at their funerals. Sadly, he had to fulfill a few of these requests already. “I definitely played the saw at more funerals than weddings. I think I only played at a few weddings. But at funerals, it’s always the “Amazing Grace,” he says.

While DeVita earns most of his income teaching and playing percussion (he runs his own business, Ace Percussion, from his studio on the ground floor of his Loves Park house), he has been an active member of the saw-playing circle as well. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra both invited him to perform in Khachaturian’s “Piano Concerto,” which has a flexitone/musical saw solo part.          

Although saws were used as early as 10,000 years ago, it was probably not until the 18th or 19th century, when consistently high quality steel could be produced, that conventional handsaws had the properties to be used as musical instruments. The particular characteristic that allows music to happen is the “springiness” of the steel; that it returns to the same position after bending. Most likely, the first instances of saw music indeed simply happened when a metal piece or a small pebble hit the blade and it gave off an interesting “ping.”

This was enough inspiration for the folks in the Ozark Mountains and elsewhere on farms around the world to start experimenting with how to coax a melody out of the steel for their own entertainment. By the beginning of the 20th century, there were public saw player performances, and it became a popular instrument in the vaudeville circuit. The first well-known saw player, Leon Weaver, still played the saw sitting on its handle, hitting the blade with a mallet.

It took a woman’s refined touch to bring out the ethereal sound we associate with the saw today. Weaver’s sister-in-law, June Weaver, invented both the lap-style playing and the use of the bow. Perhaps it is because of its origin that the saw is considered a percussion instrument, although DeVita believes it is not categorized correctly. He says: “If you don’t know what an instrument is, you give it to a percussionist.”

He’s padding barefoot around his studio among the many drums; he doesn’t like to wear shoes. Drums are everywhere, even in the laundry room. From a shelf, he pulls a beautifully hand-carved box with the first few notes of “Amazing Grace” engraved on the lid. It’s a gift from friend for whose woodcarving circle DeVita plays occasionally. Inside the lid, the signatures of all the wood carvers and the wait staff of the restaurant, where they meet, are engraved. His saw fits into the box perfectly.

He spends most of his mornings practicing one of his instruments, then, at about three in the afternoon, the children start to come. Most weekdays, he teaches until 9 p.m. On weekends, he plays where he is invited to: churches, restaurants, clubs. “Sometimes I wish I could just say no. I would like to be less busy,” he sighs wistfully. He doesn’t really mean it. His hazel eyes light up when he talks about teaching the kids, when a particularly difficult piece “clicks.”

It’s another Saturday night down at the Gun Club. Behind his drum set, DeVita executes a series of slick, fluid movements. His smile is both warm and mischievous as his glance sweeps over the audience from time to time. He nods towards Maxine, then to Val; there’s an unspoken camaraderie among them. They are a team. They finish the song; it’s time for his saw solo. As he pulls a chair into the foreground and takes his seat, he gradually becomes very formal. There’s a poise and concentration radiating from his backbone, his shoulders, the way he extends his left hand. You can feel the muscles in his body fine-tuning themselves.

“Watch him,” murmurs Matt Goodwin, a friend and fellow musician. “He is transformed when he plays the saw. When he is playing the drums, he provides a context for the others to shine. But this is his time to create the melody. Creating melody is powerful.”

The melody is all around us, vibrating in the air. I have a wistful and faraway look in my eyes. The saw is singing.

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“Didn’t you forget something?”

Scene: Paris. I just stepped out of the bathroom in our hotel suite, where the bonbons they put on the pillow are wrapped in designer foil. I did a quick self-inventory and established that I had on shoes, a bra, a £150 dress purchased the previous week at Harrods, modest but attractive jewelry, makeup and a purse in my hand. I did not have panties on but he couldn’t have known that. Besides, those I didn’t forget – whenever in a good mood, I like to surprise my boyfriends that way. We were to have dinner with his very rich and very sophisticated friends who regularly summered in France.

“Your hair.”
“I forgot my hair?”
“It’s wet.”
“It will dry. It always does.”
“You can’t meet my very rich, very sophisticated friends who regularly summer in France with wet hair.”

He also wanted me (although not the same night) to have my hair cut into a chin-length bob, to not to chew gum, and not to wear garish nail polish or heels that make me taller than him. A month later I was going to spend the night at his place, and after having sex he asked:

“Did you decide to drive all the way here because you are insecure about our relationship?”
“No, I came up because I wanted to sleep with you.”
“Why do you always suppress your feelings by throwing your beautiful body at me?”
I contemplated driving home but instead I fell asleep.

Some months later, we were sitting in my living room. He looked at me and said:
“I think I will switch to chinos.”
“Chinos are just more elegant. I always look like a bellboy next to you in my jeans. Chinos are casual and comfortable but elegant. What do you think?”
I thought that we’d be soon over.

I didn’t always used to be cynical like that. “You could charm the fangs out of a rattlesnake,” that’s what I used to be like. All smiles and coy, I listened attentively, and laughed when it was appropriate, and giggled when it was cute, and said “You” when asked “Who’s your daddy?” But then this You/Daddy informed me that I expected him to be my lover, friend, and father and that’s too many roles. After I had told him to leave then, he leaned against the doorframe somewhat awkwardly and said:
“Well, if any time you want to talk, or you know, wanna do the nasty…”
I didn’t. That was too few activities for me.

I don’t like to talk about relationships any more with the men I am in a relationship with. My aversion started when a man in the middle of a conversation about our relationship said:
“What I hear you say is…”
He was the kind of guy who calls having sex “making love” because that way he can make himself believe that he cares.

After ruling out talking about relationships, questions started to bore me. “How was your day?” “How did you end up in B. of all places?” “Does it feel good when I do it like this?” “Do you like chicken?” “What do you want to do tonight?” “How long have you been divorced?” “Have you ever tried it with another woman?” “Do you think this wart has changed color?” “Where are you from?” (The questions were never in that order.)

After I stopped answering questions, stories started to bore me. “Five years of marriage and she had the gall…” “My ex-wife had this annoying habit of…” “My boss was a complete ass today…” “That steak just melted in my mouth…” “In high school I was the first to…” “We all piled in his truck with a six-pack and drove to…” “No matter how much money I made, she….” (The statements were never in that order.)

Dating in silence is noisy. In the restaurant I can hear when I chew and when he chews. Walking down the street our shoes squeak and click. When we have sex I can hear strange body noises and the thudding.

Scene: my apartment. I just stepped out of the bathroom, my hair is long and wet and my nail polish is garish. This new guy is on the bed, naked and smiling at me. Maybe I will say his name now. So far only God has been mentioned.

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The Scents of War

The little girl is standing against the wall. It is early spring and she is almost five. She will be five tomorrow, which is next month but that’s all the same. She is shifting her weight and curling her toes under her feet because they are cold. She has no shoes on and the soil is moist. The sun has warmed the bricks behind her and tiny green blades of grass are poking through the earth and she knows why the blades are so eager to come out of that damp coldness that travels through her body.

It also makes her have to pee but these men won’t let her go to the outhouse and Mama would spank if she wet her panties. She wishes Mama would come home and tell the men to go away. Nowadays, Mama is gone a lot and for a long time but it’s not all bad because she can jump off the chicken coop and race down the street with the other children and tell scary made-up stories about monsters to her brother who is only four and a sissy.

The sun is in her eyes so she has to squint. The silhouette of the men are hovering in some distance, yelling at her words she can’t understand. They smell bad like Papa when she went to the factory with him and he had to give a hand to the workers. Afterwards, he was all sweaty and oily from the machines. They smell of something else, too, something burnt, and rotten cabbage leaves. From time to time she gets a whiff of cow pies and that’s good because it’s home or at least what has been home since January. She knows it’s cow pies; she fell into a heap racing the other children and it got all over her face and coat and Mama was angry.

The men dragged her out of the basement after they took her doll. She was sitting on the mattress telling her brother a monster story and she heard the women whispering, oh no, it’s the Russians. Hide the food. She didn’t have any food and the only Russian she knew was Anatoli who came to eat and sleep at the house every night. Anatoli was loud and big and had a huge black moustache. At suppertime, he would tickle her and show her faded photographs of two babies. “My Georgian treasures. That one, she will be strong Georgian woman. The little one, no soldier, ever. He will be doctor or banker.”

These men were different from Anatoli. They were pale and had no black moustaches and they took her doll away. They were talking to her then yelling at her but the only thing she understood was, “You want doll, we want kiss.” The doll was the only one she could bring from the city. It was soft and smelled like the old house and her old bed because she always slept with it. She wanted it back but she hated kisses. Every time Papa’s sisters came to visit, they insisted the children kiss them and she would hide in the bathroom because they smelled of strange perfume and greasy lipstick. She only kissed Papa and Mama good night and her brother because that’s what you did every night when you were a family.

 The Russians smelled ten times worse than Papa’s sisters and there was no way she was going to kiss them. They grabbed her and carried her up to the yard and pushed her against the wall. Now they keep on yelling at her but every time they yell “kiss” she shakes her head. She is getting hungry; it must be close to suppertime and Mama will be home soon and send the men away. One of the men walks up to her and puts his gun against her chest. It pokes cold and hard. The man says, “No kiss, you dead. Pow! Pow!”

 He laughs and the other men laugh and she thinks it’s funny too. She can’t be dead; she saw dead people before and they are not like her at all. Papa has a big factory and they send things to the soldiers so Papa did not have to go to the war but the war came to the city anyway. And if you go to run errands with a little girl neither the Germans nor the Russians will take a man to labor camp because they don’t want to be bothered with a child. Papa and Mama had a big yell about it but Papa yelled louder and then she was walking about with Papa everywhere.

 It was very cold and it snowed a lot but when she complained Papa said, be grateful that there’s no pidemic. Pidemic is when lot of people get sick. He always walked fast and up and down little hills. She tripped and fell just like into the cow pie except as her hands pushed the snow away, a face was staring up at her. It was very pale and hard and it did not move at all, not even a blink. Papa quickly picked her up and said, that poor dead man. There are so many laying around on the streets and God knows if their families will ever get to bury them.

 She can’t be like the dead man, because she is soft and warm and she could never stay so still without moving, not even when Mama tells her. And the blinking. She would definitely blink. Now all the Russians are pointing their guns at her and there’s a hissing sound and a bang and her legs are splattered with earth and tiny grass. There’s another bang, much louder, a BANG, right next to her head. It is so fast and loud that she can’t hold her pee any longer.

 Then, there’s a lot of commotion; someone yelling very loudly and when she opens her eyes, Anatoli is screaming at the Russians and his face is very red. They are all shrugging their shoulders, which is bad manners and the one holding her doll throws it on the ground. They walk away, talking and laughing and Anatoli comes to the wall and picks her up and takes her back to the basement. He is holding her very tight, keeps on murmuring, it’s all right, it’s alright, nobody will hurt you, you will be strong Hungarian woman. Those, bad soldiers. Russian pigs.

 Anatoli puts her down on the mattress and gives her doll back. She thinks she should not be sitting on the mattress because she wet herself and what will Mama say when she finds out. She hugs her doll but it smells like the soldiers and she wonders if her doll has become Russian now.


The above story is a work of fiction. It takes place in the spring of 1945 in Hungary. I dedicate it to my Mom.

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I’m Turning Japanese and Ben Gibbard

Settle down, all of you, whose mind is as dirty as mine. This has nothing to do with pleasing myself to the angelic voice of Mr. Gibbard. It’s a description of our outing tonight just to illustrate the seductive power of Californian assimilation.

As the months of 2012 have been ticking down, we started to feel a special longing and realized that we have not seen a Ben Gibbard themed concert this year yet. A while ago Will came home with tickets for the Golden Voice’s solo performance at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre for tonight.

We kind of misread the tickets, which indicated that the doors open at 7 p.m. Yep, it wasn’t the performance that started at 7 p.m. This gave us plenty of time to forge for food and boy, we needed time. According to Yelp, the closest food available was about half a mile away on Wilshire, and that turned out to be a lie. The Palms old-fashioned karaoke lounge no longer exists. And thus, we pushed on blindly.

The Dinner:
We came upon a Korea Town strip mall about another half a mile later. From the usual assortment of places, we picked a Japanese place, Arado. No high expectations, as it was a hole in the wall; we simply wanted some gyoza and beer. And this is where perhaps my incredible lack of sophistication will show. Hey, Hungary and the Midwest will not introduce you to the subtleties of Japanese dining. My only previous experience can be summed up in JMK Nippon.

Those of you who know me — and I will assume it’s most of my readership at this point — are aware of my fish phobia. I will not eat, touch, or even look at fish if there’s a way to avoid it. The smell of it alone can make me physically ill. This was clearly a sushi place. OK, so we made sure we were sitting in a booth, far away from the counter.

The waitress rushing about like a whirlwind immediately brought us sushi menus and two cups of green teas (the cups tastefully decorated with… fish). Fickle as I am, I only usually drink herbal teas. Caffeine is the enemy of a person with panic attack tendencies. This tea was… very fragrant. Closer inspection revealed loose-leaf green tea leaves at the bottom of the cup and toasted sesame seeds floating on the top. After further sniffing I could not help myself and tasted it. Heaven! I have grand dreams of having my own Japanese tea party now with the toasted sesame seeds.

We ordered beer and gyozas. “Only gyozas?” the waitress asked. “Yes, for now.” In ten seconds, we also had a little dish of steamed soybeans, another dish of pickled bamboo shoots, and two cups of miso soup in front of us. The display brought back fond memories of pickled ginger and wasabi (which I love) and I suggested that we might order a no-fish roll. Yeah, that’s the California roll, we agreed. And ordered.

Newsflash: I don’t know what we were thinking, but the California roll has crabmeat and it’s sprinkled with (read: rolled in) flying fish roe. And I crossed over. I ate not only a bite but also TWO whole California rolls, fish roe crunching under my teeth. In all fairness, I was also slightly teary-eyed from the over-indulgence in wasabi, but I ate sushi!!! We also ate delicately seasoned, perfectly moist little meatballs in paper-thin dough, fried to perfection. And to top it off, we received complimentary miniature ice-cream cones as dessert. All for about $28.

As I start this slippery slope into fish-eating territory, I wonder where I am going to draw the next line. (Now I am actually slightly disturbed because I looked up on the net what exactly the caviar on the roll was, and somehow flying fish roe sounds worse than caviar or even fish egg.)

The Show:
I changed the subtitle from concert to show, because it was a one-man show. If it has not been clear so far, I am a pushover when it comes to Ben Gibbard. Even though I enjoy the “New Girl” TV sitcom, I still can’t resist to say out loud to Will: “Look how fat her thighs are.” when the opening credit shows Zooey Deschanel in a short skirt. (Background: She was married to Ben and she LEFT him. How could you, Zooey???”

I expected this concert to be the lament of a heartbroken man to his lost love and I so didn’t want to see him down. We still had some time to wait, but unfortunately, theatres also equal panic attacks for me, and this one started out bad. We settled in our “Loge” seats, which means balcony. There was a wasteland of empty seats in the upper middle part, but we were boxed into small seats (even for me with my 5’9”, let alone for Will with his 6’5”) and were surrounded by a cluster of people in stiflingly still and warm theatre air. Sorry, Damien Jurado. I am sure you were a great opening act but there was some fresh air that needed to be had stat.

After a short trip to outside, we were hanging out in the second-floor sitting area when we heard to audience roar. We scurried in and settled in the aforementioned wasteland of higher middle seats. Earlier on I noticed that I had not seen these many checkered flannel shirts during my entire four and a half months in Los Angeles as in this audience (including yours truly and Will, of course). And Ben.

He talked and he played and he sang. It was magical. I forgot all about my pinching skinny jeans, about how suffocating it was in the balcony, pretty much about anything. I felt that we were in his living room and he was just talking to his friends and showing us what he has been up to. Ben is quite an arresting on-stage character — he is very unassuming and humble but he can talk and entertain. This was something rare that people won’t necessarily get at a Death Cab concert.

He played and assortment of songs from all eras. He played the guitar and the piano, and that was it other than his voice. He sang backup for himself. He played his solo stuff, The Postal Service stuff, All-Around Quarterbacks stuff, and Death Cab For Cutie stuff. The entire balcony audience was taking pics and recording it on cell phones (there were no notices anywhere to forbid this). I myself have a few songs recorded, and if I can get it off my iPhone and on the interwebs, I will share. The night ended with a beautiful rendition of “Follow You Into the Dark,” which might seem somewhat depressing, but most everyone was leaving with a smile on their faces. We certainly did.

So this was a chronicle of a low-key Wednesday night in LA brought to you by the wonderful Mr. Will Hoffmann, who keeps me in Japanese food and Ben Gibbard concerts.

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Twitter — a blessing or a blight?

I have come to understand that Twitter nowadays is a social media tool that no self-respecting entertainment industry wanna-be should ignore. So I started a Twitter account and started to follow a few of my favorite artists. (One of them, the talented and gorgeous Megan Mulllally [or one of her minions — bless their heart whoever they are], started to follow me back!) She is my only follower to this day. Why? B/c ordinary people follow the stars or whoever they are interested in. No one is particularly interested in what I am doing or thinking from day to day, and frankly, that’s just as well. There are very few exceptions to where any one person can come up with enough content or wit that would carry them through a once a day posting. (The one notable exception I detected so far is Christopher Moore or @TheAuthorGuy, who makes me laugh every single day!) But he is a writer, which means he has his followers but he is not a STAR in terms of a world that’s not mainstream media consumption. He is by far the biggest star for me though! You guys all should go and buy/read one of his books.

So back to Twitter. Based on my limited experience, it is a double-edged sword. It allows everyone (celebrities and normal people) to take control — to a certain extent — of what is said about them in public. In Twitter, one can express their own version of what happened in their lives that day, give heads-ups on ready-to-be-released news, and express their own opinion on social and other important issues. I applaud that. We have all been, one way or the other, disappointed in media coverage. Even my own self who only had a couple of articles in WI and IL local newspapers written about me. All sorts of people, including stars, should have the right to speak for themselves.

But when I read the tweets, they are… sort of disappointing. I don’t honestly think that anyone on Tweeter is sharing any intimate thoughts or secrets. You sort of participate b/c it is expected, but because it is open to your followers (and if you don’t detect who psychos are, that includes a great variety) you do an edited version of yourself for commercial reasons. And that’s not bad; you let people know what you want them to know about your comings and goings, about your romantic endeavors, about your upcoming or ongoing projects. That’s lovely for us, pedestrians, to know; we can also brag that we knew it way back when!

Now, do I have a problem with Twitter? After this short time, it seems like a tool for celebrities to get out what they _want_ to get out into public consumption. That means, that you will rarely get an honest to goodness statement from it (unless it is a socially accepted stance on some public issue) from the people you follow. You will get self promotion. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that — I think that people should have an equal opportunity to state their own side, separate from median — but I don’t find it useful for my own purposes. Sure, it’s nice to know what my favorites want to share with the world, but you can’t retweet it on Facebook so if I want to spread the world I’ll have to paraphrase.

So please use Twitter. First — follow me! Then follow your fave actors or athletes or politicians. It is all what _they_ want to express about themselves but they deserve to be heard. As for what you have to say: stick to FB unless you are a celeb….

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So, I was bitten by a dog…

My first unpleasant experience in sunny Santa Monica. I was bitten by a hyper-active Bichon-Frise at our “regular” dog park, half a block down the street from us. We go there every day. The dogs sometimes get into some scuffle but _all_ of the dogs I have met here are obedient and good-natured, who would not bite a human being unprovoked, not even the pit bulls. I walked in today with Will at my side and Sassy a bit ahead of us into the “small dog” territory, chatting merrily away about something. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, this white blur of fur attached itself to my left calf, and what it seemed to be several seconds later, I felt pain.

By then, the dog was sort of off me, and there was a general sort of chaos with the owner being mortified and apologetic, everyone staring in disbelief (it was fairly well attended at the time), Will concerned, and me confused. Yes, my leg hurt. Did it break the skin? I pulled up my loose cargo hemp pants and I could tell, yes, the skin was broken at several places. The woman swore the dog had all his shots. All I could think of was that I was glad I had a tetanus booster just a few months ago before I quit my job (to make up for the past 20 years when I had not). There was all sorts of conversation going on what to do next. I did not have my phone or backpack on me and no one else had anything to write with. I felt something running down my leg. Pulling up my pants, to everyone’s horror, I revealed rivulets of blood. There were stains on my white sock and even the pants. This is where the stuff becomes serious.

Thankfully, Will was there and so we could multitask, although both of us were a bit dazed. He went with the woman to their place to obtain verification of the dog’s vaccination record and to get contact info. I rolled up my pants and limped home with blood dripping and with poor Sassy, thus deprived of a nice walk, to take care of my wounds. Our landlady was out front and was appropriately horrified and helpful. Do I need anything? Help with my wounds, pain killer, a ride, anything at all? She told me that this stuff ought to be reported (No, the dog would not be put down but would get a black mark. If it happened again, the dog would not be allowed in public places without a muzzle but still would not be put down.)

I assured her I was OK, and headed up to flush out the bite marks with water and apply some disinfectant. There was none. I left my hydrogen peroxide in Beloit and I was not about to pour rubbing alcohol into the bites. On closer inspection, it turned out that I had three bite  marks: two of them more of a larger surface laceration and one is a smaller punctured wound. After I rinsed the blood out of my pants, it was clear that there were no large rips in it. What must have happened that the dog intended to nip/bite (OK, it ha to be a bite if it went through my pants) and got me when I was moving. The dog released immediately on contact but as I was moving, there was laceration. It seemed that none of the wounds were deep but two of them were maybe the size of a dime surface damage and those were the ones bleeding.

I patched myself up with bandaids and was about to set out with Sassy to get some disinfectant. Walking out, I ran into Will and the dog owner lady. She felt just horrible, on the verge of tears. I told her that I might have to report what happened (in the past we had a similar incident between our friend and our cat and there was a consequence of two vet’s visits and so on) but that she should still be OK in terms of the dog’s well-being. We parted ways, I obtained disinfectant, leg doesn’t hurt, life is good.

And here comes the moral question: As a good citizen is this something that should be reported to the authorities? Will and I had a conversation about it tonight and ultimately we agreed on the outcome I chose. The argument is that on the one hand, if there is a dog that is ill-behaved and the owner clearly has no control over it (which fact was supported by Will’s observations of how the woman and the dog acted after the incident and while he was obtaining the info for me), it is a civic duty to report such a dog b/c in the future it might cause more damage to others and should be on the radar screen.

On the other hand, as a fellow dog owner, would I want my dog — if she ever acted in such a way b/c she felt threatened by something someone did accidentally — have that scarlet B for “biter” in her file? After all, I was fine with three smallish wounds caused by a dog who was updated on vaccination and me fully updated on my tetanus booster. Had I worn jeans, I might not have been hurt at all. Had I worn shorts… well, I didn’t.

So, this is what I decided — and please tell me what you think if you read this! I called the woman and I told her that I decided NOT to report the incident. That based on the incident with my cat, it would cost her a little over $100 for the two vet visits that such a report would require. And that while I don’t have the power to tell her what to do, I wish that she spent that amount on enrolling her dog in an obedience training. She was very grateful and she promised me on her own volition that she would call me to tell me what program she enrolled her dog and that she has already gone out and bought a muzzle.

I do hope she’ll choose to follow through. If she doesn’t, I won’t have any recourse; not that I need revenge. I just want this dog to have a chance at being a decent canine, like our own Sassy, and like the many dogs of our friends, and the ones who visit the dog park are. Because dogs can’t teach themselves what is acceptable in a human setting.

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