July 13, 2012
Hello Everyone, it’s me, Wimsey with another quick and dirty (especially the dirty part) summer post from the Big Apple which this week resembled more of a Baked Apple. But the Upper West Side of Manhattan where I live thrives in all weathers—we New Yorkers complain a lot but we are tough. You have to be to pay a king’s ransom to live in a closet-- not to mention enduring the running commentary of one’s fellow citizens on everything from one’s clothes to the fact that one is accompanied by a very large, very smelly, very drool flinging very loudly baying Hound. Some people are charmed, others are horrified. But everyone lets you know.
And speaking of horrified, the hallway outside my apartment (my human Maria thinks it’s her apartment but I know that it is mine, and so is her friend Elizabeth’s where I spend my afternoons) is being painted. Now this was discovered when Elizabeth came to pick me up for our walk (or our dart between air conditioned apartments, depending upon your point of view) this afternoon. She generally peers out of the peephole to see if there’s anything calamitous in our way (like the upstairs ginger cat or a neighbor with a bag full of tasty smelling groceries) before we exit.
This time there was a painter applying a very attractive yellowish cream paint on the wall just outside my door. Well I decided that the wall needed a faux finish of swirled Hound hairs (black and tan harmonizing wonderfully with the chosen color). Elizabeth and I, however, had quite a disagreement about the aesthetics of my choice. I just felt (and acted) as if a magnet were drawing me to lean on that wall and the harder Elizabeth tried to push me to the opposite wall the harder I leaned towards the freshly painted one. She should know by now that if she really didn’t want me to lean on that wall she should have said “Look Wimsey, a freshly painted cream colored wall! I’ll give you a cookie if you go and lean on it and smear yourself all over the paint!” Fortunately the painter had a sense of humor—people usually do when they are not the ones being humiliated.
But I was speaking about the resilience of New Yorkers in the face of this week’s heat-- Central Park was a hive of activity on Sunday. It’s hard to see but here I am preparing an attempt to crash a performance of Hamlet going on behind me. I think that a large Hound charging into the action would add a touch of drama of which Shakespeare would have approved (for those unfamiliar with the play, I refer you to my post of August 14, 2009 for a Twitter synopsis).
Anyway, this week I am spoiled for choice about what to talk about—July 10th was my idol Marcel Proust’s birthday; a great literary figure like myself who turned his life into art and was consequently forced to endure the hostility of those around him who objected to how they were portrayed. I can relate. My humans not only resent the fact that I portray them as disheveled, smelly idiots badly in need of a life (methinks the ladies do protest too much) but they are terrified that someone I discuss will read about themselves. I could also have revealed my plans for a Proustian sequel, “Remembrance of Hounds Past” in which the smell of Hound stink rather than of a tasty madeleine cake, takes the narrator back in time to his childhood where he never got to experience the taste of madeleines because his Hound stole them from him. But I won’t.
I could also have discussed the fact that today is Friday 13th and all the things that could befall a Hound’s beleaguered humans on this day (like the liquor store running out of gin), but I won’t. Instead of Friday 13th I will discuss Saturday 14th which is Bastille Day, a day on which I like to honor my French heritage. Generally this takes the form of sliming someone wearing couture, but this time, I have unearthed a first hand account of how we bloodhounds came to be established in Europe from the court annals of one of my ancestor’s humans, the Sieur de Baskerville.
Court Annals of Le Sieur de Baskerville
Le Comte Wolfe de Blitzer: Bienvenue mes amis. Merci for joining us. Aujourd’hui we are talking with the Sieur de Baskerville, head of the Knights of the Round Table Full of Foie Gras.
Sieur de Baskerville: Merci M. le Comte de Blitzer for having me. But I am afraid that the Round Table has not been full of foie gras since we returned from the Holy Land with those loud, food-filching Hounds.
Le Comte Wolfe de Blitzer: Yes, I want to ask you about that. How did that happen? What were you thinking of!?
Sieur de Baskerville: I wish I knew. It was a Saturday night in the Holy Land and we marauding knights had had a few too many glasses of mead and decided to maraude. Everyone thinks that international assignments are very glamorous but really all the gold and the silk and the spices and the exotic women are pretty boring. Anyway, we decided to go out looking for some unicorns when we saw these amazing baggy creatures instead.
Le Comte de Blitzer: Where were they?
Sieur de Baskerville: That’s the thing. They were on the property of some mega rich sultan so we assumed that they were very valuable. We did what any self-respecting marauding knight would do. We stole them.
Le Comte de Blitzer: And when did you realize your mistake?
Sieur de Baskerville: Do you mean before or after we got a whiff of them? Did I mention that they not only smell, but that they also produce smell? But I’m getting ahead of myself. Well, the sou really dropped when we sat down for our usual a post-pillaging snack and this unleashed a cacophony not heard since the Duke of Burgundy bought the Duchess the wrong color barbette. I mean some knights were putting their helmets back on to try and block it out.
Le Comte de Blitzer: And then what happened?
Sieur de Baskerville: Our food disappeared. I mean they were relentless—food was snatched from right under our noses and from right out of our mouths. Then they chased Cook out of his kitchen and had the contents of the larder as well.
Le Comte Blitzer: I can see why they thrived here in France—we admire an appreciation of fine food.
Sieur de Baskerville: Well unfortunately it wasn’t just food they had an appreciation of. Fabric is apparently high on their list too—clothing, bedding, seigniorial banners, you name it, they had it. Have you any idea what they can do to a tent?
Le Comte de Blitzer: I think I have some idea. Well why didn’t you just take them back?
Sieur de Baskerville: But that would have been admitting not only that we stole them in the first place but also that we made a mistake. And who knows where that could lead given that we’re running around in armor building castles 2,000 miles from home. Also we figured these animals just had to be good for something. And of course they were very cute.
Le Comte de Blitzer: Ah The Trouble With Tribbles paradox.
Sieur de Baskerville: What’s that?
Le Comte de Blitzer: Nothing. Just something Nostradamus told me about. So how did you discover what they were good for?
Le Sieur de Baskerville: Well when the Comte d’Urbervilles lost his surcoat one of the animals tracked it down. Apparently they are very thorough when wreaking havoc.
Le Comte de Blitzer: So did Le Comte d’Urbervilles get his surcoat back?
Le Sieur de Baskerville: What was left of it, yes. But we realized that if we could incentivize them to hunt edible animals instead of surcoats we could foist them upon the nobility of Europe as the ultimate hunting Hound.
Le Comte de Blitzer: But isn’t it true that they are the ultimate hunting Hound?
Le Sieur de Baskerville: Yes, but it just depends what they’re hunting.
Well technically of course the French knights didn’t foist us on the nobility of Europe; they foisted us on the monks of the Abbey of St. Hubert who foisted us on the nobility of Europe. And the rest as we say is history and Hound hair textured walls. So France has even more to answer for than even American tourists in Paris think.
Anyway, this week I also decided to beat the heat by visiting one of my favorite pet stores, Unleashed. After an extensive sniff of the merchandise I engaged this fellow in an extended game of tennis ball soccer wherein I scored goals by batting the ball under the displays forcing him to get on his hands and knees to retrieve them. We Hounds don’t play fetch. We get other people to play fetch for us.
Well I think I will leave it there for this week. Happy Bastille Day and when you look at your Hound (and what he just did) think of the French. It’s all their fault.