SMUT AND MISCHIEF OFFER A SOLUTION


Smut leaned back in his favorite armchair, drew on his pipe and slowly exhaled a plume of tobacco smoke. He then laid his pipe in its holder on the end table beside his chair and crossed his paws.

Smut is the family black Labrador retriever, and frankly, sometimes is a smug, annoying ass. But I am patient with him most of the time.

“Mischief and I have been listening to the news,” Smut said. Mischief is our other black dog, a Lab-mix female. “We think that the reason people are so concerned with the trouble in the Middle East is that they worry about whether they will have gasoline to run their automobiles. Is that the crux of the problem, do you think? Have we analyzed the situation correctly?”

“OK,” I replied, amused at his precociousness, “y’all got it right.”

At that, Smut smiled smugly, and gave a nod to Mischief, who was sitting primly on the sofa. She nodded back. Both of them turned to face me.

“We know what to do about it,” Mischief said. “Smut thinks it’s so simple that you should have thought of it first,” she added, sitting very straight and proper. Smut pulled the sash on his smoking jacket a little tighter and adjusted his fez.

“We’ll tell you,” said Smut, “but could you please pour us each a bit of whisky first?”

Smut is so tiresome sometimes. His affinity for Scotch whisky leaves me with little for myself, and recently he introduced it to Mischief, who is so fastidious that one would think she would not appreciate whisky. But take to it she did, so now I have much trouble keeping any on hand. But to indulge him, I poured shots for both.

“And what canine wisdom will you impart this evening,” I asked, mocking him.

Smut gave me a reproachful stare and said, “You humans think that you’re smarter than you are. You offer complex, and often ineffective solutions to a great many problems that have rather common-sense solutions.”

“Alright, just tell me your idea,” I said shortly, reacting to his insolence.

Mischief still was sitting very straight, with her hind legs properly crossed. Smut settled back into his chair and very deliberately crossed his hind legs, tapped the burned tobacco out of his pipe and reached in his pouch for a pinch of fresh tobacco and stuffed it into the bowl of his pipe. He knew well that he was trying my patience.

“Let me ask you some questions first,” he said. “Haven’t humans known for a long time that it would become harder each year to find and process oil? Didn’t you know that the Middle East was politically volatile? Have you not planned for the eventual lack of supply due to political unrest? Why have you not drilled for more oil here, and why have you not built new refineries to increase the supply of gasoline? Why, knowing that access to oil could be interrupted at any time, have you not over the last 50 years developed alternative fuels for your noisy and dangerous machines?”

“Yeah, yeah,” I replied, “you’ve made your point. But what’s your solution?”

Mischief interrupted, “You’re not ignorant, are you? Then you must be stupid, we think. That’s not comforting, since we depend on you for our sustenance. We’re just trying to be helpful, and you seem ungrateful for our offering of a solution.”

“Well, for God’s sake, just offer it,” I retorted, my patience near an end.

Smut looked at me with pity in his eyes. “It’s so simple,” he offered. “Just walk.”

“That’s your solution, you exasperating dogs!” I shouted. “You’ve wasted my time and whisky to tell me that we should all walk? You’re skating on thin ice with me now, dogs.”

“That’s another idea,” Smut laughed, “Skating doesn’t require gasoline.”

I looked sternly at both silly canines. “Don’t offer me any more of your canine wisdom, either one of you. Walk, indeed.”

The two black dogs looked amused at my fury. “Think about it,” suggested Mischief, “it’s really a good solution.”

“How do you figure,” I spitted out, my rage not diminished.

“Take it easy,” Smut said calmingly. “You like to walk. You walk with us four times each day, and we can tell that you enjoy it. It seems to make you feel better. Sometimes you carry your camera with you and take pictures of flowers and things. Isn’t that a good thing?”

“Well, yes,” I said, assuaged somewhat. They clearly did not understand the implications of no gasoline, but they genuinely were trying to be helpful, I perceived. “But we can’t just park our trucks and cars, turn off our machines, and just walk. For one thing, the distances are too great between places just to walk.”

“Why do you want to go to a far-away place,” Smut asked. “Isn’t this a nice place? We like it.”

“Business requires travel,” I replied. “Of course I like it here, but I have to go to other places sometimes.”

“Couldn’t you just ride a horse—that’s what they are made for, I think—or ride a bicycle, or use the mail or the internet more?” Smut questioned.

“No, things have to be done faster,” I told them.

“Why faster?” Mischief asked. “You seem better when you do things more slowly.”

I was finding it difficult to counter their suggestions, because they made sense in a way, but…

Mischief sat, regarding me fondly. Smut puffed on his pipe and gave me an endearing smile. “Now that you’ve calmed down, just think about it some more. You may come to the conclusion that it’s not so silly a proposition as you think right now,” Smut suggested. “Don’t get me wrong, we like riding in your car, but it won’t bother us if you don’t drive it.” He drew on his pipe and stared serenely at nothing.

As I picked up their empty glasses, I thought: I love those dogs, but they just don’t understand human things like fuel, industry, transportation, economics and geopolitics. They’re only dogs.

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2 Responses to SMUT AND MISCHIEF OFFER A SOLUTION

  1. David Thomas says:

    A friken cool story,…….makes ya think too,….are we so selfish and self absorbed that we can put the future of our way of life at risk,.??And do it without thinking there wont be ramifications???I,m just as guilty as anyone,…..i could do more to be a help to the situation, but i dont because it would set my whole life topsy turvy. I think we all could do more to try to be the sollution instead of the problem,… I think it’s going to take a lot of adjustment for us all,….Are we ready??/,..We may have to make ourselves ready,…whether we want to or not,………

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