Animal Antics

“I just wanted animals to do what they do. It’s very poetic, and unpredictable. You never know what they’re doing next.” — Heiner Goebbels, the director of “De Materie,” a Dutch avant-garde opera being performed at the Park Avenue Armory, on the use of live sheep in the show (New York Times Quotation of the Day, March 25, 2016).

Thanks to the universe and its animal lovers who post videos! Where would we be without them? Dying of boredom hunched over our computers, tablets and phones.

cat looking out windowThere is only so much work we can do in one sitting, only so much raunchy news and outright terror we can handle after a few minutes. And so we welcome the animals and their antics, no matter how silly. In fact, the sillier the better.

Cat videos outnumber all others (15 percent of Internet traffic, according to one article). Traditionally, dogs have been more popular pets in the United States, but cats now surpass dogs. They are easier to care for and take up less time and space in our busy lives. They may be difficult to train or stuff in cat carriers, but not to capture on video …

In the last week ALONE, here are the videos friends and family have emailed me or posted on Facebook:

  • Cat plays with new puppies
  • Cat plays with dolphin
  • Cats steal dog beds; dogs shake out cats or steal cat beds
  • Dog bounds into ocean for first time
  • Dog plays ball with machine
  • Dog greets owner after absence
  • Three dogs left home alone (and caught on camera) jump from couch to couch in living room
  • Dog plays with kangaroo. Kangaroo plays with dog.
  • Bird pecks dog on ass
  • Turtle plays ball with dog
  • Wolves and hyenas hunt together, proving Middle East peace is possible
  • Miniature horse and turtle munch on shared lettuce
  • Parakeet shoots down tiny ramp on tiny skateboard
  • Chicken rides on back of turtle
  • Butterfly perches on lizard’s head
  • Snails are pimped out with psychedelic designs to prevent getting squished. They look like walking Easter eggs.
  • Naked (hairless) guinea pig poses with food (lettuce, grapes, strawberry, cupcake …)
  • Baby goat with ADD runs around in a frenzy, jumps on other baby goats and knocks them down
  • Animals sniff flowers: cat, dog, fox, tiger, chipmunk, squirrel, gopher, rabbit, raccoon, owl, orangutans, lizard, donkey
  • Animals yawn: hippo, kitten, monkey, turtle, porcupine, panda, koala, seal, donkey
cat hanging on
Ho hum, get back to work you idiot

Yes, even animals get bored and tired and must take a break. Let those silly idiots videotape something else.






Living in Tree Houses

I love trees and have always wanted to live in a tree house – with certain amenities like a bathroom, microwave and Internet. I’d be fine with the light of my computer, iPhone and lanterns.

In fact, I’d make a good forest ranger, living in the mountains, keeping fire watch, ever on the alert for pyromaniacs and lightning strikes, big bears and wild cats. This profession especially appealed to me while working in crowded and cutthroat cubicle land.

When I played in trees and tree houses as a kid, watching for fires was the last thing on my 10-year-old mind. Playing with fire was more like it. My girlfriends and I disappeared into the woods after school and climbed up the big oak tree to the shack it held in its branches. The tree and its wooden treasure were on the property belonging to three brothers who went to our school. They were close in age, half French and half English as were many of my friends and neighbors in Montreal. The oldest of the three brothers was a bully, the next was a friendly clown and the youngest, our age, was a heart-breaker.Tree House

We were most afraid of the bully, so after we removed the “No Girls” sign covering the miniature door and stepped in, at least one of us kept nervous watch. We only stayed long enough to paw through a pile in the corner and find what we needed – strike a big-bulbed match, light a cigarette, take a few woozy drags, and rifle through magazines hoping to find naked people, having grown bored with National Geographic. We were disappointed. Cars and sports. We were never caught, but a big part of the excitement was anticipating the possibility. Who would chase us around, who would joke, and who would try to kiss us?

One afternoon we heard voices below and looked out to survey. It was our younger sisters! All four of them threatening to tell if we didn’t let them come up. We didn’t.

We always scurried down and left quickly but lingered in our minds, wishing we had our own tree house. I think we asked our fathers and were told it was dangerous or illegal. Funny how they had this mono vision photo in their minds of “women’s place,” aprons, frilly dresses and manners and girls being protected and there we were outside in all our free hours, wandering for miles, finding hobo camps, crawling out over ponds on massive tree branches, hijacking rowboats, outrunning the security guards and police and weirdo who waved his wiener. “Keep them safe” was the motto, but the reality was don’t think of them at all. While we may not have been directed to the soccer field and cheered on, we were left to define ourselves.

We tried more than once to erect our own forts, sticking to ground level, pulling bushes around us, but they were never as, well, uplifting or exciting as elevated hideaways with views. And they were easy to smash down as we’d soon discover. In those days, dogs ran all around the neighborhood and a few East Coast hurricanes traveled up the St. Lawrence lashing their tail ends over Montreal, which is an island in the river.

Today when I see little tree houses in back or front yards, I wonder who plays in them. Boys and girls, sure, but what kind of adventures do they have? Pre-fabricated like the tiny wood houses? Do they bring in their cell phones and computers? Do the parents stake out nearby? Keep careful watch from across the yard? From their tree-level windows?

Keep careful Neighborhood Watch on us all as we walk and drive by? Are they watching me snap these photos of their tree house? Don’t worry, I mean no harm, I’m not a wild dog or howling wind. Just a quiet observer. Listening for the lost voices.


Suicidal Tendencies

Something about running into the teenage boy in my building, the one with the angry expression, and then seeing “Suicidal Tendencies” carved into the alley cement a few feet from his car catapulted me back in time.

Back to when my sons were that age, still living with me but wishing they weren’t. Listening to that post-punk/thrash band Suicidal Tendencies and others like Alien Sex Fiend, Bad Brains, Biting Tongues, Buzzcocks, Circle Jerks, The Clash, the Damned, Death Cult, Death by Stereo, The Stranglers, Violent Femmes.Suicidal Tendencies

I didn’t hate the music, coming myself from rock ‘n roll era, but it was sometimes hard to take after the mellow 70s. And louder than 80s alt-rock Duran Duran, U2, Nirvana, Talking Heads, Blondie. I guess it was the underlying hard-edge anger of punk that got to me, the desire to be destructive, and I sensed some of that punkish attitude in my sons and remembered it from my own late teen years. We weren’t really punks, but we were pricks/bitches for that particular hellish period.

It’s not an easy time. We want to be free and yet we aren’t quite ready. We need our parents, usually financially and emotionally, and we hate them for it. And we also know everything. Old people are so stupid.

Fortunately I remembered how I felt and so was able to navigate interactions. Not perfectly, but with a desire to understand and communicate. In all honesty, I was still learning to grow up myself. I give myself credit for trying with sincerity.

My older son went off to college 100 miles away. My younger son and I were lonely and missed him. Then our cat died and we both blasted the music and drank and smoked too much. Then there was the unfortunate incident with my car, which resulted in my son’s doing community service, picking up trash on the beach in the early morning hours in fluorescent jackets.

He got my old car running again (I got a new one) and painted it with psychedelic designs and colors. The times when he had to give me a ride to work, I hunched down so no one could see me. His best friend’s father, who happened to be the city’s mayor, made him park down the street from their house.

By this time I was somewhere between suicidal and homicidal. When I had the chance to move, I did! I fled the not-yet empty nest. Luckily my son found a new job and home working for a few months with friends at the Grand Canyon. There I think it didn’t matter how loud they blasted Butthole Surfers.

My older son called from college. He wanted to tell me something. “You know, I used to think growing up meant that everything was going well. Now I just realized that something weird is always happening and we NEVER figure everything out.”