'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Black Dog

I like this time of year. The days are getting longer. In the evening you'd notice the pale blue sky through the trees where before it was just black. It's as heart-warming as any Christmas lights.

My cousin Gary once went to a philosophy lecture with two of his friends, Andy and Robert. The lecturer was supposedly a well-known philosopher, although they'd never heard of him before. They followed what he was saying for the first ten minutes, but they were lost after he finished complaining about the airline he had travelled with.

The audience could ask questions at the end of the lecture, and Andy dared Gary to ask the question 'Who am I?'.

Gary continued his proud record of never turning down a dare. He asked the question, and the philosopher said, "I don't know. Who are you?"

Gary wasn't expecting that. He spoke about himself for a few minutes, and everyone was fascinated by the black dog that kept following him around. The philosopher said, "Is this a metaphor?"

"On certain levels," Gary said. He didn't know the meaning of the question or of his answer. His sister, Chloe, once told him to say 'on certain levels' if he didn't understand something.

This is how he earned his reputation as a poet and a thinker. 'Philosopher' sounded too base. He was a thinker. He was amazed at how easy it was to use his reputation to seduce intellectual women. That sounds terribly base, but it's true. People often used to go to him when they needed a good chat-up line, like 'Aren't you the woman who inspired Kate Moss to get plastic surgery?', but he had to go to his sister for lines to keep the intellectuals happy. She taught him phrases like 'from a dramaturgical point of view' and 'conflicting modalities'. He started wearing after-shave because he was worried that the black dog would follow him again and ruin everything (he thought that the dog must have been attracted to his smell).

He was amazed at how good-looking some of the intellectual women were. He started going out with one of them. Her name was Anita, and she was more beautiful than any of the women who fell for chat-up lines that referred to his trousers. She introduced him to a new set of friends. He pretended not to know Andy and Robert when he was with his new friends. They were about as welcome as the black dog.

Chloe kept providing him with new phrases and ideas, and these were enough to convince Anita that he was a genius. She asked him to give a talk to a poetry society. He kept refusing until she made it sound like a dare, and he couldn't say no to that. The talk itself wouldn't be a problem. Chloe wrote a script for him, and he was able to memorise that. It was the question-and-answer session at the end that he was afraid of. If some idiot stood up and said 'who am I?' then he'd know exactly what to do, but he couldn't rely on that happening.

He came up with a way for Chloe to listen to the questions and provide all of the answers. The talk was taking place in a room in the college. He had a microphone attached to his coat, and Chloe was able to hear what was said through this. She was in a room nearby. Gary was wearing an ear piece so she could talk to him.

It would have gone perfectly but for Andy and Robert. They were angry with Gary for ignoring them, and they wanted revenge. They told Chloe that Gary showed everyone a video of the time a hen chased her and she wanted revenge as well.

The three of them listened to Gary give his talk. He repeated himself a lot and he improvised with some of the phrases Chloe taught him. He got a round of applause when he finished, and then the questions started. The first one was 'could you recite one of your poems?'. Chloe, Andy and Robert all smiled. The three of them came up with lines for the poem. Andy and Robert wrote theirs down, and Chloe read them out for Gary. The following is a short section of the poem.

Where are thou, little fishy fishy fish?

How I wish you had some drugs.

My head is stuck in a hole again.

There are witches in my eyes

And they light up the hole,

But all I can see is a hole.

Am I a mole?

Mr. Mouse says I'm Martina Navratilova.

Is there a funny smell in here?

The poem got a huge round of applause, probably because of the added effect provided by the black dog, who sat at the side of the stage and looked at Gary. There was a line about a black dog driving a car in the poem.

Gary didn't move for a while. He was worried that the dog would ruin the effect by sniffing his crotch. He said, "I think I've said all there is to say," and he left the room to a standing ovation.

He really believed he was a poet after this, or that he could be a poet if he just came up with any old rubbish. But he lost his reputation with his next poem: 'I Shot a Panda'. His intellectual friends pretended not to know him, and he realised who his real friends were. He got back in their good books when they dared him to eat some milk they found and he did it.

The moose's head over the fireplace has been looking at a bucket for the past few days. The bucket was a present from the wife's uncle, and in fairness, it is a nice bucket. It has a blue metallic finish, with the word 'Bucket' in white letters. It's too good a bucket to use as a bucket. He often gives strange presents. A few years ago he gave us a lamp with a shade that looked like a balaclava. Looking at the bucket is much more relaxing than looking at the balaclava when the light is on.