Monday, June 4, 2001

Rocky Flies No More

Welcome back to dead animals corner. This week's tale begins the other early morning as I meandered out to my car off to another fiery day in the increasingly obstinate halls of the State Capitol. At the edge of my driveway lie a squirrel belly side up, paws facing up to the sky with his privates fully exposed (believe me- I knew the feeling). I was hopeful but rather doubtful that the little guy was just comfortably taking a nap. I left him be hoping that by the time I got home later that evening either he would have miraculously have recovered and scampered away, or a neighborhood cat would carry him to another resting place.

But lo and behold when I got back home he was still there looking quite the same. I doubt your average healthy 36 year old male or construction related worker would feel tears well in his eyes at the sight of a dead rodent. One of my favorite among many favorite Bob Dylan lyrics is from "If You See Her Say Hello" a bittersweet remembrance that he wrote when he was 36, about one who will never leave the singer's heart hard as he tries, "I see a lot of people as I make the rounds/And I hear her name here and there as I go from town to town/And I've never gotten used to it, I've just learned to turn it off/Either I'm too sensitive or else I'm gettin' soft." Granted it probably isn't what Dylan was singing about and it may be the result of unbearably long hours of work but seeing the dead squirrel made me very sad. Somehow just tossing him into the garbage didn't seem appropriate. So I grabbed my shovel and dug a little grave next to the flourishing rhubarb plant in my otherwise barren garden.

Another problem endured that day was a newly discovered (and heard) hole in my muffler that was just fixed a year ago for the very same problem. When I was a kid I used to have a perpetual problem with holes in my pants' pockets where it became unreliable to store anything of value on my person. Now days I don't have the problem of pocket holes but rather I've developed an inclination of poppin a hole in the part of my car that allows me to thankfully go for awhile just a little unnoticed. My car now sounds like a burly motorcycle and I'm just sure my neighbors are cursing at my late arrivals back home just begging the question what is worse, losing the ideal place to store your most valuables or losing the ability to think above the day to day din.

So I scooped the little squirrel up and tossed him down into the freshly dug hole. He was rather stiff and went in face first with tail pointing towards the sky. I maneuvered him so that he lie a little more horizontally. I tossed the dirt back on top and covered up the heretofore unforeseen grave. I said a little prayer and went back inside.

Having endured just having to sit through hours of the tax conference committee it occurred to me that my little diversion at the very least had to do with life and death and although it's easy to forget while sitting amongst a bunch of smug and self righteous lobbyists and lawmakers nothing that occurs at the Capitol really matters that much in the end.

That point was further driven home by a book I read during the many dead and dreaded hours of the committee hearings, Carl Hiassen's delightfully wicked Sick Puppy. The book was recommended to me by my dear pal Spunky, who probably would never shed a tear for a dead squirrel but knows good writing when he reads it.

The story centers around Twilly Spree, a rather edgy young idealist who goes to extremes to punish those that violate his values. Twilly freely admits that he has no self conscious, therefore he has never had a dream. That is until a wacky series of events unfolds and he kidnaps the dog and the wife of his nemesis. He ends up falling in love with the wife, Desie Stout, who has a lovely neck. His love for Desie leads to his first ever dream as she eventually (of course) saves his life.

Desie's husband Palmer Stout is a high powered and sleazy lobbyist (is there any other kind?) who initially catches Twilly's attention by throwing out McDonald's wrappers from his polluting Range Rover window. Twilly decides it is his mission in life to teach Palmer not to pollute.

The politicians are portrayed as selling out for their own self interests (gee, do you think there might be a shred of truth in that observation of human nature?). As the events unravel and the characters connect and disconnect Hiassen's story is truly one to be savored. The man has a way with words and an observational wit that goes far beyond his most famous story, Striptease. Sick Puppy is well appreciated by one who has now seen how power and greed and corruptible seed matters more than those who only worry about the well being of their nuts.

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