Trump And The Three-Point-Stance

A three-point-stance is vital to successful urination for the canine male.  I don’t know why ‘cause my yellow lab, Yogi, always sets his foot down in the puddle he’s just made. It gives me a chuckle. I’ve been trying to figure out why he does it, but only a few thoughts have come to mind. I’ve started paying attention to other dogs who do the same thing. The oddity of this behavior had me ask Siri, who says a vertical surface keeps the scent around longer. (I doubt the dog has though this through, it’s instinct.) It could be a message declaring ownership of the vertical object, or a territorial boundary. I think it is more of a pride thing, or a pride of his thing, thing. They proudly lift their leg to call attention while waving their hooter-parts around for all to see. Then, they step in it and leave little stamp marks of their paw prints down the road. This makes it easier for the next dog to follow the prints and obliterate that message with their own.

Trump does that. He calls attention to himself, makes a mess, steps in his mess, then walks away. Those staffers who follow behind will say, “Smells like Trump has been here.” We’d better obliterate his mess with alternate facts and other such hoo-ha.

My female Basset Hound, Molly, doesn’t seem to have the same braggadocious needs in her peeing habits. Although sometimes a certain smell will make her squat in her version of a dainty feminine manner; she stops, splays her hind legs, and lets loose. If she happens to do this behind me on a walk it can be a wrenching experience for my back. Suddenly, without notice, my travel companion will turn into a fifty-five pound dead weight with claws in the ground. If she is in front, I trip; if she is behind me my shoulder gets jerked out of place. Either way, it doesn’t help the sciatica, and once I tore my calf muscle and was laid up on the couch for two weeks.

I suspect this is why Melania Trump slaps away Donald’s hand on vacations. She is a slight girl, in contrast to him, who doesn’t want her shoulder jared when her hefty husband suddenly stops. This has probably happened in the past and unlike Molly who is close to the ground with wide paws and stubby legs, she is perched up on those dagger-like pointy heels. A sudden stop by the big orange gorilla would instantly knock her off those precarious things.

Molly loves going on walks with her brother. On the left is a picture of my two dogs on a walk. We are just passing the spot where that ten-foot boa-constrictor surprised us from the tall grass. Now, if you look closely you will notice there is only one leash with a y-connector for the dogs. With Yogi’s sudden bursts of dog-brained, scattered energy and Molly’s propensity for sudden stops, the use of two leashes was literally tearing me apart; I had to put them together so they would jerk each other’s sciatica instead of mine.

This becomes particularly dangerous, however, when both dogs decide to go in the same direction at the same time. Suddenly there is 110 pounds and eight legs pulling me forward with determination. I’m more than twice their combined weight but that becomes a meaningless factor given the physics involved. All their force is applied to my shoulders which makes me top-heavy, leaving my legs to do most of the resistance or start running.

I imagine the White House staff feels like I do in that situation, too. There they are, running the country, when out of nowhere an invented word on an unfinished, published text pulls them off course and out of balance. Y’know, one has to wonder how he got all those cell phones through his own security to give away to other leaders in order to bypass our own security?

I don’t think anyone is holding his leash because he’s got to have collaborators programing those security-violating phones for him. Can you imagine him up all night with a tiny screwdriver and a box of new cell phones?

I’d become quite worried if my dogs got off their leash.

A Common Cry From Curs

Did your dog ever ask you: “What the hell is going on?” I mean, like on the third day of vacation in a cottage someplace totally different from home. He looks at you with his ‘existential’ face instead of his ‘what’s next’ face; the one with knowing skepticism. The face that says: “You know I will do what ever you want, but could you please just explain all this sand?” “Yeah, and what are crabs, exactly?” “And that big water bowl tastes salty and gives me explosive diarrhea.” “Really, where is our life going and why?”

Faith in love is the most basic element of a relationship. As humans we can use words, language, gestures and intonation to convey all sorts of details and subtleties about love. We expect these techniques to work in all communication but, in some moments, it fails us completely. Our conversations can instantly be reduced to one as simple as between a dog and his master. Coming out can be one of those occasions. Sometimes there is only this answer: “Sorry, doggie, you’ll know it once it happens. Until then trust that I will love and care for you.”

In the time of YouTube and Facebook young folks have a slew of “It Gets Better” and other coming out models to follow. Something like six million people have come out on Facebook alone. In contrast, during the 1970s there were few if any role models for coming out. Each person blazed their own trail blindly. If someone was lucky, they could prepare a plan and have the time and support necessary to execute the plan. Some others were forced out of the closet door unexpectedly, which was harder, and often life-altering in extremely negative ways.  The “it gets worse” side of things is a harsh and un-cool place to be.

One commonality of gay life in the 1970s was the ritual telling of coming out stories. Everybody has one. The stories were a natural point of reference for living in the gay world. I would listen to another guy’s story and think, that’s not so bad, or wow you had it rough! Some stories were so devastating as to make the whole room cry and some were funny and surprising. All of them provided a context for what it meant to live the gay experience.

I was mystified at the stories coming from gay Catholics with their matter-of-fact discussion of abuse by priests. I heard these stories during the years I was getting my MFA in Detroit. The repetition of story after story of what must have been horrible childhoods made me, at first, question the veracity of the stories until I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of priestly experiences. I felt honored, in a sad way, to hear this discussion, as if I were now part of an elite club of secret knowledge. I wasn’t even Catholic and yet I knew the intimate details of what eventually became sensational child abuse scandals thirty years later. Child rape was a way of life in Catholic coming out story after story.  All of this was common knowledge in my circle of Detroit friends. It was almost a joke actually — another aspect of the downtrodden lives of sexual misfits. These gay Catholics seemed to believe they deserved the abuse. It was a contextual standard for the next chapter of a coming out story; insert your priestly experiences here. alterboyssmall

Hearing those stories I could begin to imagine what had happened to Mark Sobota, my eight-year-old, first, best friend who came back from Father Pedantic’s (not the real names) summer camp a different boy than the one who had left. He had been assigned the honor of Father’s ‘favorite’ that summer. Gradually, as I looked back to those awkward memories, a thought became clear: had Mark been raped by this priest? Why, after two weeks at camp, would he reject affection, isolate himself, have a fear of old friends, and act out in anger all the time; it was so unlike him? And, why would he become a priest himself later in life?

A grad-school friend of mine, David, wanted to be a priest very badly and yet, because he would not deny his sexuality, he was excluded. I watched him struggle year after year as other, less-honest gay men were taken into the training program. They had no problem stretching the veracity of their sacred vows. David had integrity while they did not, yet they got the job and he did not. Secrets are required to become a priest? I guess if your duties involve shuffling unveiled pedophiles from parish to parish, secrets might just be an essential requirement for the job.

If your dog can take you on faith alone, while theological bureaucrats require you to lie and even turn away those who are truthful, then you have to wonder who has the better moral code? It makes me want to put on my existential face and ask: “Really, where are our lives going and why?”

 

This is an adaptation of a chapter from Billy’s Moral Adventures, Featuring Serious Emotions Such as Those Brought on by Death, soon to be published. Text copyright © 2016 William W. O’Donnell