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the storm builds: (pt 1)

04 November 2010

MW’s dear friend Lisa’s heart is bigger than her head. It is huge. She’s generous and giving of her time, her love and whatever else she can part with. Sometimes, she gives in a lending sort of way.

Which I suspect is how two books appeared one October morning on our kitchen island. My Spidey sense tingled when I saw them.

the "BB"


The first was “The Atlas of Dog Breeds of the World” with “of the world” in much smaller type. (The third rock from the sun subordinated for once to the discussion of corgis and water dogs). It was a well-thumbed New and Revised Fifth Edition. The cover modestly proclaimed it as “The most comprehensive fully illustrated volume on dogs ever published.” Like ever, you know. The hyperbole continued. “EVERY photo in color.” To assure readers the publishers were serious, EVERY was printed in ALL CAPS. Who wouldn’t have found that convincing? It portended something potentially dark in my future. Not dark like the level of Sirius Black’ escape from Azkaban but a little bad, for sure. We’ll call it the Big Book (BB).

The other was a collaborative effort from people in white lab coats who work at Tufts University, which apparently has a competitive lacrosse program and an even more competitive veterinary medicine school. If the BB was a bit scary (I wasn’t sure, maybe it was a resource for one of OD’s grade 7 electives, perhaps?), “Puppy’s First Steps“ was an absolute Steven King chiller. There’s no explaining away the intent of that title, is there? The implications were as clear as seeing a report entitled “Earnings Growth Through Obfuscation” on Ken Lay’s desk at Enron’s HQ.

MW started carrying the BB around and leafing through it. She started affixing to select pages those narrow sticky notes that women use when catalog shopping. Some kind of weird mental inventorying was taking place. I kept my distance, just making sure that I regularly made tea and didn’t touch her toast after it popped up from the toaster.

Naked Kids and Dogs?

As November fell into place and Thanksgiving approached, I became curious and even picked up the BB. I visited the section dedicated to great danes. There’s a single page of text and five full-page plates showing the different colors (fawn, black, blue, merle, harlequin) inherent to the breed. The only strangeness – and I emphasize strange – is the photo of the naked toddler, hair worthy of Leif Garrett, straddling his family’s huge harlequin. (Note: I probably would have found another harlequin image without a naked child if I had been the publisher. But that’s just me).

Anyway, I learned that the only thing Danish about the great dane breed is the name. Otherwise, it is 100% German like Porsche, Bayer and Oktoberfest. Buffalo Bill was an early admirer after the breed arrived in the US around 1850. Large males often reach 170-180lbs, while really large examples exceed 220lbs. Steven Spielberg cast several in Schindler’s List. (Note: the BB didn’t include this trivia; I’ve seen the movie a couple of times).

I could cite more of the facts I discovered but frankly I didn’t linger within its pages. I was nervous. MW was starting to leaf through the second title.


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