In life, there are many memorable moments, none more so than the precious first.
You know -- the first step, the first words, the first time they have to report to their parole officer. Yes, the first kiss, the first marriage and sometimes the second, third, and fourth.
And so it was this weekend, a new bitter sweet first. Fat Head, the 100-pound rottweiler mix who, like the Masked Assassin (for those not culturally well versed, a wrestler from the early '70s out of Fred Ward Productions in Columbus, Georgia) from parts unknown, received his first -- and possibly only -- bath ever.
I've had Fat Head for over four years now and I didn't want to rush things.
Fat Head is not one to take very well to lifestyle changes. He sleeps under the boxwood by the front porch, come hell or high water, rain, snow, or blinding heat. He likes Pedigree dog food and table scraps. Don't show up with Jim Dandy or Alpo or Purina Dog Chow unless you're spoiling for a fight. Speaking of which, he enjoys a good fight, lose, win or draw.
If you decide to engage in such riotous fun with Fat Head, there's a pretty good chance blood will spill and an even better chance it will be yours, not his. He doesn't like cats, armadillos, possums or snakes. He also doesn't like door-to-door salesmen or solicitations by Jehovah's witnesses. I figure that alone earns him a spot at the dinner bowl.
But the master of the home -- otherwise known as the wife -- said bathe him or trade him. Even I have to admit, he was a little rank. At the same time, I'd just about as soon wrestle an alligator as try to hold Fat Head in a tub of water while soaping him up with fancy dog shampoo that only a poodle would wear. I dropped him in the converted dog washing container, actually the kids' plastic sandbox full of water, and he gave a menacing look that would make Jack Bauer curl up into the fetal position.
Yeah, it was time Fat Head and I had a little talk.
Well, he didn't actually talk, but his look said a thousand words. "Listen, master," he said. "I've been a good and loyal servant. I worked hard to earn this smell. It's four years of cherished memories, is what it is.
"Ah, the memory of stealing the chicken box off the patio table when you went inside to check the rolls. I still have a little smell under the right side of my collar. How about the run through the swamp bog after a clearly trespassing raccoon or the time (times) I managed to turn over the garbage can? What about the victory roll over the dead armadillo? Your wife carried on about that for darn near a week. Man, those are precious memories soon to be destroyed. In fact, they say that Henry VIII, or the IV, or VI -- one of those Henrys, anyway -- only took a bath once a year, and he did so in buttermilk. If it's good enough for a king, it ought to be good enough for me."
I explained to Fat Head that King Henry was a French man and I think they rank last in the world in per capita deodorant purchases. He was unimpressed, but he did manage to suffer the indignity of a full bath. I guess that means I won't need to trade him, although it begs the question: Exactly what in the world would I trade Fat Head for?
Anyway, the front porch entry now smells sweet as springtime flowers, but don't get any ideas. He still hates door-to-door salesmen and solicitations by Jehovah's witnesses.
Contact columnist T. Gamble at firstname.lastname@example.org.