May 4, 2012
Hello Everyone--Wimsey here coming to you from a persistently cool and soggy Upper West Side of Manhattan where I am still awaiting further opportunities to hang out in my shared garden and terrorize the neighbor’s cat. My human Maria wishes I’d terrorize the mice that wander into our apartment instead but her friend Elizabeth has theorized that the only way I’d terrorize the mice is if she didn’t actually want me to terrorize the mice.
Having spent a considerable amount of time taking care of me during the day Elizabeth has finally come to the blinding realization that not only do I enjoy doing what no one wants me to do but I also enjoy not doing what everyone wants me to do. There is just something irresistible about a cheesed off human. And in the immortal words of Groucho Marx’s masterwork from the film Horse Feathers, “I don’t care what you have to say, It makes no difference anyway, Whatever it is, I’m against it!” I wonder if Groucho had a Hound? (Maybe one called Oucho).
Well, it’s been a quiet week around here owing to the fact that once again I managed to pull a muscle—this time in my front left leg—so I’ve been hobbling around and the ladies have been administering aspirin and massages and insisting that I rest and not take two hours to evacuate my bladder and bowels. Killjoys. But I am a Hound and being hobbly doesn’t stop me from trying to pull them for long walks by the river or to Central Park which they find completely exasperating and I find completely delightful. And my leg will give the vet another medical mystery to ponder during what has become my weekly Saturday visit wherein I meet and greet, get petted, get admired and get fed treats and my humans get to pay for it all. Were it not for the stray finger up the bum it would be a perfect setup.
Anyway, I would not be the inveterate New Yorker that I am were I to be remiss in mentioning that on this date in 1626 Peter Minuit of the Dutch East India Company purchased Manhattan Island for $24 (a sum that today wouldn’t even buy the deluxe deer antler that Elizabeth carefully selected for me and that I have resolutely refused to chew). With history’s 20/20 hindsight and a glance at real estate prices many people feel that maybe the Indians didn’t get such a good deal. But it is a little known fact that the Indians, in addition to accepting the $24 in cloth and trinkets also gave the settlers a very special “welcome to the island” gift.
An Account of The Purchase of Manhattan Island (from the diary of The Dutch Manhattan Bloodhound, Hubertus van der Waals Wimsey)
Peter Minuit: So, it is agreed that in consideration of these several bolts of cloth that my wife rejected as being too ugly to make curtains out of and whose choice is indicative of my general lack of good taste, refinement and an understanding of her esthetic, together with some beads and assorted doo dads from the junk drawer, you, The Manhattanites agree to give the Dutch East India company and its rapacious representatives, the right to use this island to set up a society devoted to the making of unlimited amounts of money, the wearing black clothing the eating of sushi and the drinking of fancy cocktails in martini glasses that don’t remotely resemble martinis. And you promise not to engage in any anti-social behavior such as killing us or scalping us when we have loud parties and our taxis try to run you over.
Indian Chief: Yes, we agree. The land is crap for growing anything by the way so we hope you know what you’re doing. And I am hoping that these beads will make up for my bringing my wife the wrong shade of beaver pelt last week. Who knew that there were so many shades of dark brown? However, because you are getting me out of a sticky marital situation and because my tribe mates want to show their gratitude for you taking this useless piece of land out of our inventory we want to present you with a “welcome to the island” gift.
Peter Minuit: Well as newcomers to Manhattan we can use all the help we can get, but I know the lads would appreciate a bit female companionship if that’s what you’re thinking.
Indian Chief: Well our gift will sleep with you and provide you with plenty of companionship, especially when you are trying to read the newspapers or writing to the East India Company to complain about the high cost of living in Manhattan.
Peter Minuit: Well whatever it is, I hope my wife will like it. I’m in enough trouble as it is.
Peter Minuit: But it’s just a big dog!
Indian Chief: No, he’s not a big dog. He is a big Hound. You’ll learn the difference, trust me. And there is no “just,” or justice for that matter, about it.
Peter Minuit: Well he is very majestic looking, although he seems rather baggy. But apart from pleasing the wife what other useful things does he do?
Indian Chief: What doesn’t he do!! Well he can help with the farming--and especially the harvesting part. And although the land isn’t very fertile he has a special system for dealing with the problem--although I recommend always wearing shoes.
Peter Minuit: OK, what else?
Indian Chief: Well he has a very powerful nose and will find all manner of succulent animals.
Peter Minuit: Great! We could use a good hunting dog.
Indian Chief: I don’t know about the good part but he is an excellent hunting dog. It’s just that he’s not big on sharing what he finds and I wouldn’t try getting anything away from him unless you fancy running a marathon. But if it’s edible, he’ll find it. Especially if it’s on your dinner table.
Peter Minuit: But he will help to keep us warm at night.
Indian Chief: Certainly. If he lets you in the bed.
Peter Minuit: He sounds a lot like Mrs. Minuit.
Indian Chief: Oh, and don’t worry about him getting lost—you can hear him all over the island. In fact it’s impossible not to.
Peter Minuit: Well thank you Chief for this most generous gift!
And, as they say, the rest is history. And speaking of history tomorrow is Cinqo de Mayo which means that all weekend long New Yorkers will be piling into Mexican restaurants and chowing down on enchiladas and tacos and swilling pitchers of margaritas all in celebration of our Mexican heritage. In multicultural New York City (an estimated 800 languages are spoken here, not including the English that New Yawkers speak) everyone is Mexican on Cinqo de Mayo just as everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. And if your nationality has a festival day that involves highly caloric food and plenty of alcohol we’ll celebrate that one too! It’s our way of honoring diversity and promoting world peace. One drink at a time.
But I think there should be a special holiday honoring Hounds:
Things People Can Do On Houndo de Mayo
Spit on each other
Yell at each other
Push each other
Hit each other
Poke each other
Knock each other over
Ruin each other’s clothing
Take what they want from everybody else
Refuse to do anything everybody else wants to do
Dig up plants, especially expensive ones that don’t belong to you
Knock over garbage cans
Pee on cars
Track mud everywhere
Chase the neighbor’s cat
Bathe in city fountains
Steal anything you want
Shred books and newspapers
Spit on computer screens
Turn household objects into toys
Shove others off couches, beds and furniture
Vomit food that you decided you didn’t like
Sneeze in people’s faces
Use people’s clothing as napkins
Have pillow fights
Climb into other people’s cars
Tell everyone what you think
Tell everyone what you think some more
Don’t apologize for anything
Don’t feel guilty about anything
Drink a lot of gin
And of course it is very apropos that Cinqo de Mayo celebrates a Mexican victory over French invaders because France has been in the news so much on account of their election. The great thing about French elections is that no matter who wins everything stays exactly the same so no one need fear for their Parisian vacation. And although there are many problems facing the Republic these days we Americans have our own list of important French problems:
Top 10 Problems Facing France
1. Rude people
2. Rude people who don’t speak English
3. Dog poop on the streets
4. Too many other tourists ruining the atmosphere
5. Hotel and restaurant staff treating you like you’re wearing a coonskin cap and carrying an axe.
6. Figuring out how to tie those scarves
7. Figuring out how to get the money to pay for those scarves you can’t tie
8. The $10 cup of coffee
9. A language that no one can pronounce and few people want to try
10. The French
I’m guessing that the people in the UK have a similar list, but it’s all in the spirit of Anglo Saxon fun. As those of you who read this blog know, as a Chien de St. Hubert I am quite proud of my French heritage. So maybe #11 on the list should be that they made me!
Well I think I will leave it there for now. Hope you all are enjoying the Merry Month of May which is even more Merry with a Hound around. At least for us. (I was sad not to be able to find a May Pole on Tuesday; I had big plans for it).
Until next time,
Wimsey See, Wimsey Do, Wimsey No