E

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“Empty” characterizes my efforts at the E entry. I tossed around eggs, electric eels, and a parable illustrating that those who are

Early to bed and are early to rise

are the same people who’ll be

Early to die if they only eat fries

I’ve dropped all three. Instead, I relate the tale of Heenry Dollins, the son of my Vietnamese barber’s scissor sharpener. Heenry was born with only one “e”. As a young boy, he— no, I’ll save this story for a later time, after I conjure up Heenry’s adolescence and a crafty story of how he acquired his second “e”. Right now I don’t care to be reminded by my computer’s red dot underline that Heenry is not a recognized word. Obviously it doesn’t want to hear the story either.

It’s become clear that the commonest letter of the English alphabet will not cooperate with DCO.

F

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Flippers, fractures, frankfurters…frankly, the F entry is giving me fits. I’d rather write about Uruguay. Oh sure, I could slapdash some piece about Fitzsimmon Sitzfimmon, flounders, or how I should focus on my paying job instead of *arting around the internet. Alas, the first is nonsense, the second is just a flat fish, and the third is not on today’s agenda.

Instead, the agenda shows one item, and it is Uruguay. Why would I write about a South American country I never visited and trip up when pronouncing it? Because there’s a fun drawing of a sun on the Uruguayan flag. And it’s smiling, in a way.

OK, so no one cares about a silly sun on an obscure country’s flag. Fine. I can flop around with fluorescent fixtures, flatulence in five-year old flamingos, or the troubles with fig farming in Finland. Truth be told, I’d much rather highlight Uruguayan history, exports, and the recent lottery numbers that made some Montevidean a millionaire. Any simpleton or F. Scott Fitzgerald wannabe can pull a dozen “f” words from the dictionary and scatter them over the screen.

G

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Gros Islet, a village on the northwest coast of St. Lucia, beckons a return visit. But not a first visit.

The average world traveler would, by odds, never set ten toes on St. Lucia’s soil. Lovely as it is—indeed, named “Helen of the West Indies” (presumably after Helen of Troy and not Helen Thomas)—this volcanic rock poking through the warm aqua waves of the Caribbean Sea is one of thousands of dirt spots smooched by the sun that may entice an explorer. Browsing vacation destinations online, the island’s pitch always includes images of Les Pitons, two sheer mountains on St. Lucia’s southwestern shore. Splendid they are, but not necessarily more inviting than a hammock on Tahiti, Aruba’s windmills, or the whitewashed architecture of Santorini.

For the sake of this entry, let’s say you do select St. Lucia (otherwise you’d never get to Gros Islet and I’d never get to the end of this piece). Travel brochures may suggest a dozen local attractions, including those Pitons, a stroll through the capital’s markets, countless hiking opportunities, golf, scuba, or just a respite in the hammock that you passed up in Tahiti. You’ll also likely see a blurb about a Friday night street party in Gros Islet. It’s not really a summons for tourists; simply a statement about something to do on a weekend evening, when your golf and scuba are done.

So be it. You arrive in Gros Islet at sundown. It is a steamy evening. The village streets are full of St. Lucians standing on street corners, laughing, milling, moving their sweaty bodies to reggae playing at appropriately high volumes from speakers installed within easy reach of all ears. You also notice an oversupply of amorous street dogs doing the loco-motion whenever and wherever they get the feeling. Smells of roasted meat surround you: chicken sizzles on grills set up every several dozen feet, while vendors at crude wooden stands offer goat meat, oxtail, rice, yucca, and plantains. The local rum and beer, Bounty and Piton, are in steady supply. As you drink, you step around the chicken bones that serve as snack for the mutts when they need a break.

The warmth wraps you as a blanket. Sweat, pervasive, is but a small nuisance; it’s a welcome element of the ambiance, part of the tropics’ character. While a first time visitor from colder latitudes may question why they ventured into this unfamiliar inferno, they soon agree that a chilly breeze just wouldn’t do here; it would blow the whole experience. Goosebumps are not welcome.

After a few hours in Gros Islet, you’ve likely committed to a return trip to St. Lucia and this small village. You begin to work out the particulars as you board your flight back to Manchester or Munich or any drab Midwest destination.

Gros Islet is a mouthful of mango, wet and sweet. It may not be on your list of places to visit, but it might just be on there twice.

H

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“Hams’s head smells like garbage.” This quote was the most recent addition into the annals of animals who smell. My wife was referring not to a pig, or to a processed pig product, but our domesticated dog Hana (aka Hams). She is half dingo, half hyena, though the vet insists she trends towards the genetics of border collies and Australian cattle dogs. Whatever. She loitered with litter, and now she smells.

A stinky pet head presents a problem. When Hams rolls in dog droppings or wades into a mucky canal topped with putrid green algae, a quick shampoo and hose-down—accompanied by some rough handling signifying our disapproval of her behavior—normally do the trick. But when she dives head first into stench-filled filth, surrounding her face with nastiness, there’s a dilemma. I can’t simply force her head into a bucket of water or ask her to stand against the backyard fence while unleashing a torrent of water at her head. With little hope of success, I can try detailing her chops with a toothbrush, leading her through a field of lavender, or allow her to pick a favorite from my wife’s perfumes. With even less chance of success, I can plead with Hams to elevate her standing in society by reconsidering any future forays into filth. I am defeated. None of these efforts will dissuade the flies from orbiting her snout. The only future assurance against a rancid scalp is a whole-head leather helmet.

I

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“I’m only speeding cause I really have to POOP” announced the bumper sticker of a car in front of me at a traffic light. Yes, someone thought to make such a sticker, and another someone thought to buy it and adhere it to one of the most expensive material possessions this person owns. It wasn’t just stuck on the bottom edge of their bumper, partially obscured by an “I Heart Hooters” message or a fading blue capital W. Oh no, this driver’s plight was front and center (well, rather rear and center) on the trunk of the sedan. It was clearly meant to vie for attention with the license plate and indeed the actual color of the vehicle. It was a winner.

The “poop” was capitalized, as I have it above. Such uppercasing of a low-class word stressed the immediacy of the matter. Though after a paragraph of reflection, perhaps I jumped to a premature judgement. Maybe the POOP was an acronym, throwing the reader off the scent of its true meaning. It may have stealthily alerted us of the driver’s rush to print out oval pricetags, plant orange oranges and pumpkins, pinch Olga once painfully, or for any other kind of POOP. All these preoccupations could have merited a disregard for the speed limit.

Still, I’m not convinced POOP meant anything else for this bold, yet proud individual. They’re in their own league. Each of us has had some or other occasional bodily emergency, be it a sunburn, a fork through one temple, a fork through each temple, or a hickey on our instep. Do we go buying bumper stickers to show it off?

J

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Jumping for joy is the leading cause of sprained ankles in excitable people; sprained ankles are the leading cause of loss of excitability.

My aunt Irma was an excitable soul who nursed more than a few sprained ankles since 1971. That year, her enthusiasm for life jumped a few notches following eye surgery restoring her sensitivity to colors. I often wondered why she didn’t restrain her leaps, as her ankles were not made of the same stuff as those of kangaroos. To be sure, she wasn’t as massive as a kangaroo. Even is she had been, she’d have lacked that giant meaty tail for support.

K

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Keystrokes and kimonos are the first and last terms on page 381 of the desk dictionary that got me in trouble with “M”.  Another letter, presumably another post for the dustbin. Let’s see:

Anyone with some fashion sense can stroke keys in a kimono. Let them. I find the loose arm sleeves of the garment invite too much airflow for a comfortable typing experience. I rather my elbows stay warm during a blogabout (with this I claim the term “blogabout” for dogchewedopals before a lesser competitor dallies with it). Kimonos are better suited for a stroll down a boulevard bordered by blooming cherry trees, perfectly cut for lounging on a short sofa while holding a carafe of hot sake in one hand and a glossy copy of Power Sumo in the other.

Mercifully the keystrokes remaining in this entry are coming to an end. Though I can’t pledge this is the first write-up linking keystrokes and kimonos, I suggest it be the last.

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