My father is prone to obsessions.
For the most part, they're harmless, although they can be pretty annoying. For example, I open up the window in the bathroom when I take a shower. In the warmer months, I just leave the window open all the time. But now, the heat's on. With my Dad, the heat goes on when the temperature drops below 70°. When I guess the thermostat was right on the cusp, my father discovered that although I wasn't taking a shower, the window was open. And I heard all about the folly of having an open window when the furnace is is running and oil costs so much. For about the next week, apropos of not much, the following would transpire...
Dad: Is the window in your bathroom open.
Me (not looking up from my book or whatever): No.
Dad: Are you sure?
Me: Sure I'm sure.
Dad: Go check and make sure.
Me: I don't need to check. I know it's not open.
Dad: How do you know it's not open for sure if you don't go check.
Me: Because I know.
Dad: Do me a favor. Just go check.
Dad: Just take a minute and go check.
(I go check and find the window closed.)
Me: It's closed.
Dad: Good. Thank you. You left it open the other day though. Do you know how much we're paying for oil this winter?
Get the picture?
And this will transpire again and again and again for about a week.
My father has a new obsession.
Y'see, for the past five years or so, Faithful Companion has had a benign fistula on his asshole. Originally it was the size of a grape, then a strawberry, then an apricot. Now it's about the size of a lady apple. It's always the topic of discussion at Faithful Companion's annual visit to the vet. It's benign, and he doesn't fuss about it. I asked about removing it, and apparently the problem is that surgery in that area might damage Faithful Companion's anal sphincter and make him incontinent.
So Faithful Companion and I live with it. In peace.
So the other morning, my father said, "That thing on your dog's butt. It's just dangling by a little thing."
"Right," I answered, and explained the whole history of the benign fistula on Faithful Companion's butt.
"I learned how to deal with those in school."
By "school," my father is referring to his alma mater, National Farm School.
National Farm School was founded by a man named Joseph Krauskopf. He was a russian Jew who was concerned that with all of the Jews leaving the shtetls for the Big City, russian Jewry would lose its agricultural heritage. So he wanted to found a school to teach young men how to be farmers, using the best in agricultural technology. He consulted with none other than Leo Tolstoy, who told him that with things getting so dicey here in the homeland and so many people emigrating to the United States, he might do better to open up his school then.
My father left high school a year early to become a freshman at National Farm School 1943. After the japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, my father was drafted, and never went back to earn his degree.
And his degree would have been in Poultry Management. My father, a city boy from Olney, Philadelphia, wanted to be a chicken farmer. And so for a year he matriculated in the Animal Husbandry department. So that's what he means by learning how to deal with growths "in school."
And just what was he proposing?
"All you have to do is tie some thread around it at the base really tight, then you can just cut it off and it will heal up."
I think the blood drained from my face.
"Cut it off?"
"Yeah. Just take a razor blade and cut it off below where you have the thread tied."
Faithful Companion won't stand still for me to give him a bath. Despite my pleading and promises of treats.
And then... I mean... My father is proposing that I do surgery here at home on my dog.
On. My. Dog.
"Dad, I don't know that I have the nerve for that."
"Aaaaah. Sure you do. It's no big deal."
An image of me, tears running down my face as I chase Faithful Companion around the house as he spurts blood out of his ass all over the carpet.
What am I in for?
If indeed this has become my father's latest obsession, then I fear for my sanity. He won't relent. Not until he's satisfied.
My father's life is all about sitting in a chair smoking cigars watching the Weather Channel, CNN, and football. And obsessing. He has all that pent up energy to pour into a relentless campaign to get me to do surgery on my dog. He won't let up. Until I relent.