Cone Class in Session

By Jim Hagarty

The first time our little poodle Toby was given a doggie cone at the drive-in eatery, he lapped up the soft ice cream in seconds.

I had to pull it away from him from time to time for fear he would get brain freeze. (When I get brain freeze, it’s more like a brain glacier given the size of the material we’re working with here.)

Finally, he licked the cone bare. Then he stopped. He wouldn’t touch the cone. Almost as though he was afraid of it.

So I took my cone and started eating the biscuit part, making sure he could see me doing it. He watched me very carefully. Then he lit into his cone and polished it off.

That was the last time he had to be taught that trick.

Birth Of A Salesman

By Jim Hagarty

I had just stepped up to the automatic banking machine at a grocery store on a frazzled Friday afternoon when I noticed – couldn’t help but notice – the sorrowful young face of a boy who could have stepped out of a Dickens’ novel, plaintively holding a box of chocolate-covered almonds up to me and asking me, in these words, I thought,

“Please, suh!”

“Waddatheyfor?” I barked at him, annoyed at having been, once again, ambushed. Why do business places allow these youthful pedlars to lurk around their doorways, hassling innocent customers?

“My bowling team, suh,” the boy replied. “So we can have an awards party.”

Now I was doubly offended. My hard-earned money was to be used, not to solve hunger, fix the environment, or end family violence, but to provide a bunch of kids with a bowling banquet. The problem was instantly clear to me: if the bowlers and their families could not afford an awards night, they shouldn’t have one. And yet, they thought they should and they believed that someone else should pay for it.

“How much?” I snapped at the boy.

“Three dollars,” he replied. Behind him, a nervous-looking man, probably his dad, was shuffling from one foot to another, trying to ignore the rough reception his boy was getting.

Three dollars seemed like a lot of money to spend for a couple dozen chocolate bits just to ensure a successful bowling banquet, but guilt is often a more powerful motivator than anger and out came my three dollars. As I continued my automatic banking, now punching at the keys with more intensity than usual, I could hear the adult supervisor of the chocolate-almonds heist urging an obviously reluctant boy to confront all new customers about the plight of the youthful bowlers.

“Go on!” the man would urge. “Get up there and ask that guy. Go!”

Between feeling sorry for the boy and angry at the dad and upset at myself for having said yes when I wanted to say no, I was quite a mess when I left the store. As I did, the boy approached me again, having failed to recognize me, and I decided to add guilt to my sackcloth of emotions by sniping at him, “Forget it. You already got me!”

Why am I talking like this to a 10-year-old boy I don’t even know, I wondered, as I headed to my car. Still, righteous indignation isn’t worth much if you can’t make the most of the adrenaline high it serves up by grousing about the unfairness of it all for a hot half hour or so. There was enough injustice there to fuel a whole evening of discontent. Store letting solicitors roam free. Dad coercing son to sell to strangers. Bowlers demanding money for banquets. Chocolate companies making money off kids.

The next day, my four-year-old son and his mom arrived home from his hockey practice.

“Whatcha got there?” I asked my boy, as he bounded in the front door.

“A box of chocolate bars for my hockey team,” he replied. “Can we go to the neighbours to try to sell them, Daddy?”

Fate has a nasty sense of humour. I thought about that as I made up a sign, “For my son’s hockey team. Two dollars. Thanks,” and put it beside a stack of chocolate bars in a window sill at work. Though I haven’t yet summoned up the courage to go door to door, I can see it’s coming, if only because my son is so insistent.

I have acquired a newfound admiration for the boy by the banking machine, if not for his dad. How hard it is to go up to people, chocolate item in hand, and to ask them for their money. My guess is, he has done better with his almonds than I have with my bars.

So far, I have sold two, and bought four.

But my son is so keen, maybe we could go stand by the banking machine. And I could get him to go up to strangers.

Or maybe I’ll be eating chocolate till hockey season’s over.

It does go good with crow.

Frank’s Close Call

Frankster the Prankster
Frankster the Prankster

By Jim Hagarty
Renowned Terrible Limericker

We once had a cat named Frank
Who jumped in our pool and sank.
On his bed in the house
We performed mouse to mouse.
He revived, it was only a prank.

Would There Be Anything Else?

By Jim Hagarty

I am in line at the drivethrough at McDonald’s, $1.05 burning a hole in my pocket, my lips anxious to wrap themselves around a good, hot coffee.

There is one car ahead of me at the order speaker. He sits there a long time. He is either reading the poor server his Last Rites, or reciting a chapter by heart from Gone With the Wind. He finally moves on.

I pull up to the order kiosk. I see the total for the long-winded customer who preceded me:

$39.93.

How in Ronald McDonald’s name can someone find $39.93 worth of food to buy at McDonald’s in one drive through? He seemed to be the only one in the car. Either he had given up on Weight Watchers or he was the designated hunter-gatherer bringing back supper for his village.

Lips got busy but it wasn’t coffee they were tasting. They were involved in conveying the significant disappointment on the part of their owner at having to wait an eternity for eight ounces of hot brown water.

Of course, the expletives expedited matters more than it seemed possible they might, and the food wagon finally moved on.

Back to the village he went, I assume.

The elders would be pleased at the day’s catch, no doubt.

My Internet Car

By Jim Hagarty

I have bought and sold things over the Internet these past few years, chiefly through the site called kijiji.

Small things usually. Printers. Scanners. Concert tickets. Hamster cages. Snow tires.

Then I took a big leap and bought a used smartphone. So far so good.

But I heard about a guy who sold his car on kijiji and I was awestruck.

“Who would buy a car on kijiji?” I remarked.

So I went and bought one on kijiji.

A great car. It was eight years old and had only 7,461 kilometres on it, or, for you Americans who might be reading, that is 12.6 miles.

I couldn’t believe my luck.

And it cost only $6,000 Canadian ($150 US).

The car was nearly flawless. Its previous owner was an old lady (really) who drove it to the grocery store and the hairdresser. She babied it, but found the best way to stop the vehicle was to run into something. So, there were a few bruises.

A couple of other problems. The speedometer started, not at zero, which would have been nice, but at 110 kilometres per hour. So I pasted a chart on the glass showing drivers how fast or slow they are going. To go the legal limit on most highways, you have to get it up to 190. To go 50, you have to go 160, etc. It is a good system.

The temperature gauge also didn’t work right. I told all the drivers in the house that if the needle hits C (for cold), the engine is overheating. Everyone is on board.

I have spent the past two years bragging about the 7,461 kilometres on the odometer. People have been amazed. And only $6,000, they say, smiling with admiration. It feels good to be known as a literal wheeler dealer.

But there is a spoilsport in every crowd. There really is. Some guy who studied logic in university. Who studies logic? At a recent gathering, I was holding forth about our Internet auto and, of course, detailing the incredible fact of the 7,461.

But I also described the car’s few hiccups, such as the gauge issues.

Up stepped a cousin with this crazy theory: If some of the gauges are wonky, what made me think the odometer reading was exact when I bought the car.

I hate that guy.

I really do.

I am going to buy a bag of dog crap on kijiji and make a mess of his front door.

Then I will take off in my car at 190 and get the hell out of there.

What My Father Taught Me

Michael Earnie Taylor

By Jim Hagarty

I love this song by my friend and Canadian singing/songwriting treasure Michael “Earnie” Taylor. It is from his album Folk ‘n’ Western which is in my Corner Store, right next to the leather belts and gossip magazines. No littering please.

Nursery Rhyme Crime

By Jim Hagarty
Renowned Terrible Limericker

There once was a girl named Jill
Who pushed her friend Jack down a hill.
To disguise the crime
And avoid doing time
She fell down too, the pill.

OR

There once was a girl named Jill
Who pushed her friend Jack down a hill.
They took her to jail
But then she made bail.
Convict her? I don’t think they will.