And in a different room of his mind, another memory sparks. Dad says “Your mother loves animals more than anyone else I have ever known. She just has a way with them. I think they can sense her tender heart.”
The dogs name was spelled Chi-Chi or Tse-Tse, or something like that; a name to suggest that the little creature was of nobility, and perhaps, as well, that she was to be spoiled eternally. I am not even sure how my mom spelled her name, but regardless of the spelling, her name was always pronounced She-She. I don’t really remember why or what prompted mom and dad to get another dog, and a purebred at that, but for whatever reason, they went through the process of a finding a Lhasa Apso breeder and eventually purchasing a puppy. I imagine the whole act somehow revolved around mom “having her own small dog to take care of”. Mom would have loved to have another creature helplessly devoted to her…a cute little princess of a puppy to love and spoil and save from the world……and dad would be happy to “give her the little princess to love and focus upon” to maybe take away some of mom’s moodiness and anxiety and her hellacious mood swings. Perhaps dad’s participation had been sincere and not part of a secret plan to distant himself from mom’s unhappiness and anxiety, but it seems likely at least, that the tiniest part of his subconscious knew a distraction of some sort would reduce his martyrdom torture in some shape or fashion. So, at this time and place, it wasn’t the supposed life raft of anti-depressants or anti-anxiety drugs or a promotion or a baby or a new hobby or a new house. It was Chi-Chi.
I remember her initially as a very cute and fluffy puppy and our whole family fell in love with her like everyone always does with a puppy. I don’t remember if mom and dad ever took her to the veterinarian. They were always suspicious of anything the Vet might do, and I would guess, that mom was a strong advocate of avoiding the Vet under all circumstances, including routine vaccination and spaying, as well as recommended parasite control and any other type of preventative care.
At some point, I remember all of our dogs being severely flea infested and I also remember mom and dad’s version of a counterattack to that problem; Sevin dust sprinkled all over the garage floor, flea collars strapped tight to every dog’s neck and mom, every night, with her flea comb, spending hours in some obsessive-compulsive flea hunting mission that truly resembled a mamma gorilla delousing her offspring. The most important part of the counterattack was strict, and I do mean strict, avoidance of the Vet and any recommendations they might proffer in winning the flea
One of my favorite ludicrous and humorous memories of insanely perceived and applied pet knowledge, originated from my parents at this time. Mom and dad had consulted a pet store worker… not a veterinarian… no never a veterinarian, but a pet store worker about the flea invasion, and somehow, my parents ended up coming home with garlic pills to give Chi-Chi that were supposed to save her from the enemy combatants. A few days or weeks later, my parents “suddenly” came to the realization that the garlic pill weapon of supposed flea genocide had failed to do a damn thing, and furthermore, my parents now noticed that more of Chi-Chi’s hair had fallen out and that much of her skin was turning black and becoming very thick. So, on one memorable day of my childhood, my parents, armed with the knowledge of their convictions, marched down to the pet store where they had purchased the garlic pills and began a nasty shouting match with one of the employees in the middle of the store. And I suppose because my parents were yelling in public, they believed this somehow strengthened their illogical theory. Mom and dad could not believe that they had been tricked into buying a “medication” that one, did not work at all in controlling the flea problem and two, had the disgusting side effect of hair loss mixed with the eruption of ugly black skin all over Chi-Chi’s body. I don’t really remember the final outcome of this exchange, but I would suppose that the pet store opted to refund the monies paid for the garlic pills, just to get my parents to stop throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of their store. I would further assume that mom and dad felt even more justified as a result of the refund for lashing out at this company, at their product, and at the injustice that almost everyone else in the world directed against such cute, little, furry puppies. This had also “proven” somehow that you could not trust anybody to give you good pet advice; no veterinarian and no pet store employee. The only ones who could be trusted, the only ones with a righteous opinion of good intent, were themselves. Everyone else was obviously an idiot. And secretly of course, mom was also thinking that dad was just as much an idiot as everyone else, while dad was imagining he was mom’s champion knight, sweeping into the battle to defend her, to stand with her, when in reality, he stood behind her shield for the entire skirmish and she damn well knew that.
The whole system was toxic; from beginning to end. My parents had no justification in their behavior; no facts, no logic, no introspection, no true deduction or contemplation…. only neurotic insanity. The only righteousness that they possessed was righteous indignation, but it was far, far from righteous or justifiable. Nonetheless, that is the way of the neurotic; that is their way. Ignore logic and facts and viable considerations and in their stead, build a world, a neurotic bubble of sorts, to cover up your fear and insanity. Destroy everyone else’s credibility even if it be one-hundred fold greater than your own. Sing me, me, me as you make yourself the center of the universe and you discredit any source of truth or reality. Make the whole damn thing only, only, only about yourself…but still keep lying to yourself in your insanity…tell yourself and everyone else, that you “did it for them” or “you did it for your son” or “you are doing it for your pet” or “for your loved one”. Just spew nonsense and smile as the words leave your mouth. Chi-Chi did not have an adverse reaction to the garlic pills. She was miserable and suffering from a million fleas crawling all over her body on a constant basis, biting her skin and sucking her blood, all the while producing a severe allergic response to their presence. The condition is known as flea allergic dermatitis and it was the reason Chi-Chi’s hair was falling out in clumps and also the reason her skin was turning black and becoming extremely thickened. It had nothing to do with garlic or the pet store…only the insanity and irrationality of my parents. They could have easily obtained a diagnosis and started effective treatment if they had chosen to go to a veterinarian. But my parents did not choose that. They chose to be small and neurotic and induce the needless suffering of a living creature as they blamed the whole damn travesty upon some other entity that was completely innocent. God, how people loved to do that; a black man, a homosexual, a catholic, a republican, a Muslim, a doctor, a veterinarian, a teacher or any of the other endlessly titled scapegoats. The only one they never ever considered, the only one they always left off the list, excluded from the discussion, was their self; their me. It was always “them” to blame. “Them” were to blame for all of Chi-Chi’s problems and suffering, and “them” were also to blame for all of my parents’ problems and their suffering. And all of it, every single damn word of it, was the pure and utter bullshit of neurotic minds, determined to infect anything within their sphere with their same madness and delusion. It was a welcomed neurotic super-nova, detonated with violent chaos, to burst forth in all directions to obliterate all objective matter and reason within their tiny universe; it was the ultimate distraction of total immersion borne from the highly unstable and insecure psyche of my parents with one another and with themselves.
To be continued…