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Jon de Vos: You can judge a book by eating its cover

Jon de Vos
Friday Report

Help me.

You’ve read about rich people who keep foreign workers as slaves? Well, that’s me.

The Fraser couple, who abducted me and forced me into a stultifying life of drudgery are unbalanced and may be growing violent. They’ve kept me locked up for the past seven years to do their menial chores, leaving them free to lead a life of indolence and excess. I fear I’m a victim of the Stockholm Syndrome because, despite the harsh treatment and meager food they give me, I still try so hard to please them.

The other day, for instance, I was going over their checkbook. I had neatly categorized all their checks into tidy little piles all over my desk when I happened to notice that the cover of their checkbook was real leather. Real cowhide. I buried my nose in the cover, it smelled irresistible. I was ruminating about a missing check when my office door flew open and suddenly there she was, shrieking something about some “bad dog,” if you can imagine.

Must be that Great Dane next door. Hmm, hmm, accounting is so fun and this checkbook cover is so tasty as well. I wonder why she’s shaking the fence like that? The gate’s frozen in three feet of snow, she’ll never get out here to me, na-na-na-na-na. Hey, there’s a car pulling into the drive, the Master (ha-ha) must be home.

I knew immediately from the expression on my wife’s face that she was vigorously distressed. I say vigorously because she was waving her arms like a pterodactyl at takeoff, a warning sign I’ve come to associate with dangerous situations like radioactivity and the strong presence of snake venom. She greeted me warmly, “Your stupid mutt grabbed the checkbook and ran out the dog door with it.” Then she added those fateful words no man should ever hear, “Do something.” Once again she’s mistaken me for that guy with the six-pack abs and a big red “S” on his chest.

I pondered several scenarios surrounding me scaling a six-foot chain link fence. Several of them, too many of them, involved EMT’s in white uniforms exclaiming, “Good Lord, this guy’s heavy!” so I turned to somebody perfectly suited for the task and called my 6-year-old niece, Lydia.

“Lydia, your aunt and I want to hire you for a serious mission. Our basset hound, Freeta Goodhome, swiped our checkbook and took it out to the dog pen. We need you to go through the dog door and get it back. We’re willing to pay the princessly sum of 50 cents if you can find it.”

Lydia looked up at me and cut to the chase, “What if she ate it? Uh-uh. It’s dark, it’s cold, I want a dollar whether I find it or not.” They grow up so fast.

It was a good match, size-wise. Several dogs ago, we had a greyhound and installed a greyhound-sized dog door that leads out into a fenced-in pen. The door is so tall that Lydia marched through standing up, holding her little flashlight up bravely in front of her, determined to earn the dollar she had negotiated. I shouted encouragement,

“Do you see anything?”

“There’s nothing but poop out here,” she fired back. “I want another dollar.”

Eventually, calm was restored and the checkbook, minus a big chunk out of one of the corners, was returned to its new spot a couple of shelves higher. Slowly, surely, all of our belongings are moving to higher ground, out of reach of a certain overly-inquisitive Basset Hound.

Yesterday, I came home to discover she’d raided the bookshelf and taken down one book. Coincidence, I’m sure, it was propped up against the windowsill, open and looking for all the world like she’d been reading it. I noticed the title as I put it back on the shelf. It was a self-help, “How to Deal with Annoying People”. I paused for a moment.

Nah, couldn’t be.


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