It must be a primal trait…

As you probably know we have a dog, a little 15 pounder schnauzer called Panda. We named her Panda because she was black and white at birth. If you know anything about Schnauzers you know they like to bark. Well Panda doesn’t except when someone rings the door bell, which incidentally is how we locate her by ringing the door bell when she is in one of her moods.

We brought Panda from Toronto to Calgary; she is the right size to fit under the plane seat. She actually sat there very quietly for 4 hours all the way to Calgary.

When I went to work, Jo would get up a little early in the morning and take her for a walk. Jo and I always fight about how many times per day we have to take her out. I suspect she had a bladder problem from going out so often. In the winter time we just let her out in the backyard, which leaves quite a mess to clean up in the spring. Well I am at home now, I don’t take her out too early, I let her tell me when she wants to go out. When it is really cold, she sometimes stay in bed until midday.

To get Panda to do things we bribe her with a cookie. She loves her doggie cookies. Jo has gotten in the habit of giving her a cookie for going outside on her own. Panda is a little silly that way. She needs to go outside but she expects a cookie after. It is like she is doing us a favour. We dispense these cookies on the kitchen floor, she seems to prefer it that way.

In the last couple of weeks she has gone through a change. She has determined that if we are going to give her a cookie after going outside on her own, why not give her one before she goes outside on her own.  I am telling you it’s the truth. It goes like this. I work in the kitchen, so she would mosey on downstairs from sleeping in her $150 bed, someone actually bought it as a gift, stand in the kitchen and look at the cupboard where the cookies are stored.

Well you know me right, I am from St Kitts and dogs belong outside, so why would I let a dog that lives in total comfort tell me what to do. Normally I would get up and head to the back door and she would follow me. No not anymore. She is not budging, she wants her cookie first. Ok so first I thought ill just wait, how long can she hold it. I have time. She was thinking the same thing. There was a show down. After a while she starts to smell her butt. Damn what should I do. I already waited for about 10 minutes, then she starts to stretch, not a good sign. That can only mean one thing. OK OK she wins. I gave her the cookie. She ate it then runs to the back door, bitch.

The next day the same game and the same result. She can really hold it, after the second day I am thinking maybe tomorrow ill refuse to budge and see what happens. Then I decided maybe not, damn I am defeated again by a 15 pound dog. She obviously is aware that humans don’t like dogs crapping in their house.

Panda is quite interesting. She has a boy friend called Nick, an 80 lbs German Sheppard that lives a few houses down. They can play forever. Then a little dog goes by and she growls at it. I tried to analyze if she chooses a particular type of dog to pick a fight with, but nothing makes sense so I came to the conclusion that it must be astrological like humans, or maybe smell, that’s ‘human like’ also.

She does not fight but she pretends she wants to. I should walk away one day when she growls at a big dog and see what she does.

This need to control and to conflict is also a human trait. Growing up in The Village in St Kitts, there were always a lot of opportunities for me to fight. The family I was closest to at a very young age were the Lanns. My friend Willy’s mom would always share a piece of bread with me. Not sure why but her bread tasted better than the bread from home. Anyway Willy and I would scuffle sometimes. Can’t remember why, but we would always make up.  Maybe we were training for dealing with conflicts in the future.

Behind the Lanns’ home was the Byrons’ who have a son named Larry. I don’t know why, but we had a thing going, could have been astrological or smell. I had a great relationship with his brothers, sisters and his parents, but not Larry.

Larry and I were the same age and at the time the same body mass. I must admit he was a better fighter, but I hated to lose. There is an alley just above our house and a little bit south of the Byron’s house where we would meet to play marbles and play cricket or football which always ended in a fight with him. I ate a lot of dirt. I could not tell my mom so I would wash up under the water pipe before I went home.

Conflicts with Larry escalated when we got the age of liking girls. There was one particular girl, no names please, that we fought over. First she was his girl than I took her away so we fought and he would do the same and we fought again. This went on for a while before a bigger boy from outside the village came and took her away.  In hindsight, it still can’t think of a good reason for these fights. Primal instinct?

 There were guys up and down Cardin Avenue and thru the alleys that would pick fights with me. Having an older brother that no one wanted to fight with helped, plus my dad was a little scary, it was good to know that I had someone looking out for me when I got in over my head.

At an early age I learned that running away was a smart thing.  Maybe that’s what Panda would do if confronted, plus she had Nick.

As I got older I avoided physical fights. I had a friend name Bubba that was a really good fighter. We travelled together and being with him made me safe. I recalled once a team of us went up to Springfield pasture to play cricket. The pitch there was a little better than the one we played on normally. That day Bubba was not with us. A cousin of mine, again no names, was upset at me because I stole his girlfriend, primal instinct. Back then it was all talk and no action. Anyway he had a friend that lived close to Springfield who was going by on his bicycle and saw us and rushed to get my cousin. He was aware of my conflict with my cousin. They were both weight lifters. I was a scrawny 80 pounder. To make a long story short, he ‘bang’ me up really good.

A few days later we went back this time Bubba went with us. I had broadcasted that we would be there and my cousin simply could not resist, he showed up.  Let’s move on.

Bubba and I became very close as time went on, by now I was in Grammar School, he went to Senior School across the field, we would walk home together and he would sometimes come to my football games. There was a certain young lady whose boyfriend was my teammate in Grammar School.  She saw Bubba and liked him. I did what I could to help him out. That certain teammate and I were mortal enemies, he was from a competing village, New Town. I just had to say that.

One day, Bubba, the girl and I were walking home after a football practice. We had stayed back in the park so they could be together. We did not realize that my team mate was watching us. He was a couple years older than we were. When we got to the Boys School gate, he jumped Bubba. I told the girl to go home. Bubba then proceeded to put a’ lickin’ on him. As I stood there looking at them, I could see a policeman coming toward us. I shouted at them to stop and tried to separate them but they were really into it. My early instinct was to run, but I could not leave my friend.

The policeman ‘arrested’ both of them and put them on the ‘bench’ at the police station. I had to go get Bubba’s dad, it was not a happy ending.

After that incident I don’t recall ever having another scuffle, except with my siblings, I had become a lot more humble as I was in Grammar School now and expected to act a certain way, having to wear socks and shoes and be a gentleman.

I had not lost my competitive spirit however, always wanted to be first.

When I was little, pre teen, like most kids I did not care what I looked like, dirty feet, dirty face, I read recently that eating dirt is good for your immune system. One of the ‘styles’ then was holes in your pants. Mine was always in the bum area. That would always piss my dad off.

When I got to high school that had to change, so I started wearing my brother’s clothes, he really took great care of his clothes. Yeah, we would fight, I was bigger. After school I would go home and change into my best casual clothes or his and go gallivanting.

My primal instincts were always getting me in trouble, sometime I could not run away.

I was an excellent cyclist, got that from my dad. I have three older brothers and one of them told me that my dad would have all three of them on his bike as he rode around the village.

I had a friend GH, that lived a little east in the Fort Lands area. He was 4 or 5 years older than me and we both liked a certain girl, actually I liked her and she liked him was more like it, so I had to find a way to show her I was the better choice, had a better gene.  I imagine it’s like what peacocks do, display their colourful feathers and strut around. Of course we don’t have feathers so it was the next best thing, a bicycle race. I kept challenging him, ‘just one more time’, he would always win, but as I hated to lose so I would challenging him again. He was probably enjoying beating the crap out of me.

 I recall one day we started the race about where Southwell lived on St Johnston Ave heading downhill. The finish line was at the end of the avenue by the tennis club.  As usual he was ahead of me, we had just gotten to the big drain area where the road took a dip then uphill. He was a bicycle wheel ahead of me. Oh, I forgot to mention, he had a racing bike with the bent handle bars and I had my old man’s bike that I sometimes rode to school. But I was catching up. I was going to depend on my stamina, I could go forever.

He saw me gaining and as I got close enough he cut me off, he denied it. Great spill, probably died, I am bleeding all over, my nice pants torn, that was the worst part. My bike frame is bent. I got myself together and dragged myself home. My mom didn’t say a word, she just patched me up, took my best afterschool pants, I only had one nice pair really and she began to sew them.

Later on I was sitting on the front steps eating bread and cheese, all patched up when my dad came home. I put on my sulky face expecting sympathy. He did not ask me what happened; my guess is that someone had already told him. He just looked at me and said, ‘’you better win next time”.

GH never raced me again, I was glad too, that was one of my most difficult life challenges and oh yes I never got the girl, she preferred older boys. All of that for nothing.

As I sit here I can see Panda in the kitchen looking at the cupboards, maybe this is the day I will take a stand, I am feeling strong.

The only Kittitian Couch Potato in Calgary.

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