February 20, 2009
Hello Everyone. It’s me Wimsey coming to you from that wind swept bastion of High Hound Culture, Manhattan’s Upper West Side where I am apparently a famous local character. The other day I was out for a mid afternoon tow with my human Maria when two strangers approached and one pointed to me and said to the other “that’s Wimsey” in the same hushed and reverent tones with which one might say “that’s Oprah.” Maria claims not to have recognized them but it is entirely possible that I met them when out with her friend, my auxiliary human, Elizabeth. And yesterday’s evening walk was considerably enlivened when we were waiting for Elizabeth in front of her building and someone looking at Maria from the back mistook her for a man which incensed her in spite of the fact that she was dressed exactly like one. This started a heated evening walk debate as to whether it is worse to be mistaken for a man or for a child, as happened to Elizabeth all through college. I was about to chime in that in my opinion being mistaken for a Basset Hound, a St. Bernard or a female dog (someone flunked anatomy) is far worse but all conversation ceased abruptly in the face of a massive gust of wind that elevated my ears and flews in a manner that suggested imminent takeoff. It put me in mind of a new TV show:
The Flying Hound
The Flying Hound is a show about a Hound whose large flews and ears cause him to unexpectedly take flight in strong winds. The Hound uses this ability to make surprise appearances at local picnics and barbecues where, posing as a health inspector, he confiscates all the meat. The Hound also drops in on people facing seemingly insurmountable personal challenges where his sage advice is ignored because it takes the form of loud baying. Nonetheless his great physical beauty combined with his assertive attitude inspires people to overcome all obstacles in a heartwarming manner. In the end the grateful humans reward him with more meat. The Hound also sometimes drops by commuter ferry boats where he cadges hot dogs from people who still have jobs and disrupts sporting events by relieving himself on teams not from New York. The Flying Hound is looked after by two clueless humans who never seem to rethink walking him in high winds.
Anyway, these days it has been so windy that the ladies fight over who holds my leash as the leash holder stands a better chance of remaining upright. Of course the wind also makes me frisky so that my leash holder incurs a compensatory risk of going down for non-meteorological reasons but this seems never to have occurred to them. The wind is just the latest in a slew of climactic assaults that we have weathered this winter-- New York having been beset by interludes of drool freezing cold, driving snow and fierce floods. Someone up there just doesn’t like us and I am sure a plague of frogs is going to be next (frogs being my personal favorite amongst Biblical plagues—it rather sounds like fun, much better than locusts, etc-- I am looking forward to it with great anticipation--cuisse de grenouille being part of my Frankish heritage).
But our walks continue to be quite lively affairs and the importance of having a spare human present cannot be overstated. Whichever human is not holding the leash is in charge of feeding me copious quantities of cookies since I generally find myself in need of sustenance after one of my masterful early evening displays of poopage. Protocol dictates that I make my desire for cookies known with vigorous pokes to the treat pouch (or abdomen in case the pouch is absent) of the person not holding the leash thereby tripping the person who is holding the leash. And it’s all “Wimsey wants another cookie but he’s just had one!” and “Well he probably doesn’t remember the last one—don’t dogs have short memories. Or maybe it’s Wimsey’s homage to Ground Hog Day. Or maybe the island of Manhattan is like that annoying island on “Lost” that keeps moving around in time.” Or maybe I just enjoy being fed a continuous stream of cookies. But the cookies do distract me from my new role as the Upper West Side’s Great Black and Tan Poodle Hunter. Now for some reason we keep seeing quite a number of these small fluffy animals whose humans seem terrified by my baying and misguidedly assume that I have more on my mind than just the eating of cookies. But really these creatures are not of a very sturdy design and as poodle squashing is not likely to be met with much approbation I am not permitted near them. I get fed cookies instead (it’s actually quite hard to bay and chew cookies at the same time, but I am working on it). Nevertheless, I was able to approach one of these insubstantial creatures on our Sunday walk although it seemed to be under the protection of an intrepid basset.
On another topic, my Valentine’s Day post has elicited much discussion as to the paucity of boyfriends in my human’s life and the reasons for this sad condition, so I offer further evidence for her blessedly single state:
My Human on a Speed Date
Potential date: Tell me about yourself?
Maria: I have a Hound.
Potential date: And where did you go to school?
Maria: I went to school in Virginia and Texas but was not permitted to have a Hound on campus. It was very sad.
Potential date: And what do you do for a living?
Maria: I take care of my Hound. He is a very large Hound. Taking care of him doesn’t pay well but it is very satisfying. Especially for him.
Potential date: I see. And what do you do for fun?
Maria: Well, I take long walks with my Hound, I wrestle with my Hound, I watch TV with my Hound, I rub my Hound’s belly, I shop for my Hound, and take pictures of my Hound.
Potential date: Oh you like photography?
Maria: My Hound is very handsome. The camera loves him.
Potential date: And where do you like to go on vacation?
Maria: My apartment. My Hound doesn’t fly.
Potential date: And what do you do when you are not with your Hound.
Maria: Excuse me. I don’t understand the question.
So you can see the problem. People find out very little about my humans but a great deal about me. (“Hello, my name is Maria and I have a large and fantastic Hound named Wimsey after Lord Peter Wimsey. Let me tell you all about him.” Or even worse “Hello my name is Elizabeth and I don’t actually have a large and fantastic Hound named Wimsey but a friend of mine does so let me tell you all about him.”—I don’t recommend you invite either of my humans to a cocktail party any time soon). Perhaps I should go on the dates and attend the cocktail parties instead—it would save time.
But of course the ladies do meet quite a large number of people because of me especially when we all go food shopping at Fairway. Basically one person shops while the other person stands around outside with me and coordinates all the petting and adulation, and answers questions (about me) and poses me for pictures (Fairway is opposite a hotel). Personally I find theses shopping trips exhausting even though I am not the one inside being mowed down by strollers and out of control shopping carts (shopping at Fairway being one of New York City’s most popular contact sports). And as each of my humans emerge battered and bruised they are required to present their bags to me for inspection—I take these Homeland Security duties very seriously—I need to make sure that they are not harboring any dangerous devices, such as Gentle Leaders or no-pull harnesses (really “so-called” no pull harnesses as none of them have ever had any effect on me). In any case these bag inspections cause no end of amusement to passers-by—just until I attempt to inspect their bags. So I think the Wimsey TV Network should produce a TV show about a band of heroic Hounds protecting the homeland:
Legion of the SuperHounds
Narrator: Welcome to the secret headquarters (it looks like a kitchen!) of the Legion of SuperHounds—America’s secret weapon in the fight against evil doers. Group Captain Wimsey has assembled a team of specialists whose missions are so secret they never talk about them. As these heroes are frequently under cover(s) they are known only by their SuperHound designations. Let’s find out more about them and their extraordinary powers—will you introduce them Group Captain:
GC Wimsey: Certainly. Here we have one of our most determined recruits:
Beagle: I make food disappear.
GC Wimsey: Yes, Beagle deprives our enemies of every type of needed sustenance. He can also make electronics disappear—quite quickly I might add. Next we have our smallest member:
Dachshund: I dig holes that trip fleeing villains.
GC Wimsey: Dachshund’s small size causes people to underestimate him, but trust me he can wreak an amazing amount of havoc. Next we have a key member of the team:
Basset: I’m your man on the ground—I destroy everything from needed footwear to secret plans to things you thought you hid from me. Like Beagle I have an unlimited appetite for electronics.
GC Wimsey: Next we have the team member we call the Flash:
Whippet: Now you see me, now you don’t. One minute I am holding your wallet and car keys and the next minute I’m gone. And unless you’re a cheetah or something you ain’t gonna catch me.
GC Wimsey: Our next team member:
Afghan: I interfere with vision. One shake of my mane and my enemies are looking at nothing but hair. I am pretty good at causing blinding bouts of sneezing also.
GC Wimsey: And last but not least, we have the muscle:
Ridgeback: Go on, make my day. I wasn’t born with hackles on my back for nothing.
Narrator: But what do you do Group Captain?
GC Wimsey: I am multi-purposed and am often known as The Disrupter. First and foremost, I am the Master Thief. If it exists I can steal it—everything from top secret communications to your lunch. Also I create sensory deprivation—I blind my enemies with drool (creating a new definition of “wet operations”) and deafen them with my supersonic baying. And then of course there is my near miraculous super power of just getting in the way. As the largest member of the team I can appear in your path suddenly and without warning and send you flying.
Narrator: Well that’s quite impressive. But what do you all do when you are not working?
Beagle: I make food disappear!
Dachshund: I dig holes!
Basset: I eat shoes!
Whippet: I run away with your stuff!
Afghan: I shed hair!
Ridgeback: I wait for people to make my day!
Wimsey: I represent!
Anyway, all this talk of artistic endeavors means it’s time for another visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. Today we have another lush Renoir to look at: The Promenade (Pierre-August Renoir, 1870, The Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California) painted at the height of Renoir’s powers. Here we see a woman who is being led along a garden path (probably in more ways than one) by a young suitor. But the lady is looking backwards, apparently at nothing, which I think is very puzzling. But see how much more sense the painting makes if the lady is also escorting a magnificent Hound! She is looking back at her Hound, perhaps to entreat him to move forwards, whereas he appears to want to go in another direction entirely. I think perhaps she should listen to her Hound. A Promenade with Wimsey.
Well, that’s all for this week-- time to give myself a wash and make myself more sleek and aerodynamic.
Until next time,
Wimsey, a flight of fancy
Friday, February 20, 2009
Posted by Wimsey at 8:07 PM