Words to Live By

Me and Pool

According to family lore, my first three words in life were: “dog,” “shit” and “pretty.”

I have always found this astounding. First, that I so smartly whipped out three words that could be used in a sentence. And not just any sentence, but a few,

“Pretty dog shit.” – Yeah, no one but a toddler would really use that in real life.

The more likely possibility would be, “Shit, pretty dog!” That would show not only my total coolness, but also reflect a bit of my Jamaican heritage, if said with just the right flavor.

The second reason why I’ve found those three words so amazing is how they totally foresaw my life and encompass my current state.

There’s a third reason too. And I’m going to admit to being pretty fucking proud of it. One of my first words was a swear word. That too was a harbinger of the future for me.

So you may ask – what’s up with this? Prideful of being a little girl who uttered “shit?” That my first words included “dog?”

Well, actually I was thinking about this because I’m currently in a sort of shitty mood. Because I’ve been cleaning up dog shit.

Yup, those words could not have been more of a prophecy.

But before I get to that, first let me explain that I have this bit about those first three words on good authority. My family.

Me and Ma. My mother first told me this when I was quite young. She told me more than a few times. The context was usually 1) I was admiring a dog, or 2) I was swearing. Ma’s dead now, so you’ll just have to trust me on this.

I never did learn in what order these words came out for the first time. Most seemed to think it was “dog.” Of course, that would be the logical way of things. A twisted part of me though sort of hopes it was either “shit” or “pretty.” Just think how clever I would have to be to have a first word that was such a descriptive choice.

My paternal grandmother, Grammy Ouida, backed my mother up on this.But Gram gave a lot more explicit details and provided an actual scenario for this precious bit of precociousness.

Apparently, I was strolling along with her on the Western Promenade of Portland, ME – a fairly ritzy area, especially then – with my first dog, a standard Poodle named Clicquot. She seemed to remember me saying something about “dog shit pretty.”  I think that seems doubtful, but she did remember reprimanding me for my inappropriate and surprising choice of “shit.”

Anyway, Gram too is now dead, so again you’ll have to trust me on this.

So yes, my first dog was a Poodle. A very grand Poodle. He was elderly and very stately and I adored him. He was also a Jamaican import, hence the name Clicquot. As in Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, the French champagne house. It took me literally 30-something years to figure that out. Jamaicans have a resplendent way with names. Trust me on this.

Back to the recent dog shit cleaning scenario. After a very fun day involving a bit of agility and a lot of exploring a fabulous new hiking/walking place, I returned home to a not so fabulous stench. Initially, I thought I had to clean out the cat litter box. However, I found only a tiny turd in there, and while I wholeheartedly agree that cat shit stinks horrendously – that was not quite the odor. Still, I figured maybe it was just an extra stinky bit that was still lingering. Then I went into the main area of the house.

What I encountered was almost Poop-a-Palooza. Not nearly as bad as the time that Youke as a puppy got into Sylvie’s tasty old dog joint supplements and devoured nearly the entire bucket, followed by a cocktail of olive oil pulled down from the top of the refrigerator – yes that really happened, trust me – but nor was it just a lump in the middle of the living room.

Since I’d spent the entire day up until that point with three of the dogs – Youke, Brady and Camm – that left one guilty party. Jasmine.

What was so incredibly frustrating too was that the mess was fresh. Not as in odor – that was freshly disgusting, but as in freshly eliminated just for me. No crusty bits or anything.

Since I immediately started swearing, and trust me when I saw that “shit” was one of the milder words that spurted from my mouth, the dogs wisely thought to disappear into other rooms and lay, very, very still.

Not really the way I wanted to end my almost perfect day, by cleaning and scrubbing for nearly two hours and glaring at anything with four legs, but so fitting really I realized as I threw my garbage bag full of icky paper towels, used wash cloths and two bottles of enzyme cleaner in the trash.

Pretty dogs shit.

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