Rendered Fat Content


John Edward Gray:
Dr. Hamilton's Paradoxurus, Paradoxurus Hamiltonii.
From The Living Animal in the
Surry Zoological Gardens
(circa 1830-34)

"I find my redemption lurking in the far back corner of my original intention."

The Muse complains when I refer to myself as her Emotional Support Animal. When I asked after her protest, she said that she didn't think of me as an animal. "Am I vegetable, then, or mineral?" She noted that my rock head strongly suggests mineral. My purpose in declaring myself her Emotional Support Animal had more to do with keeping the most serious possible business just as light as possible. My intentions were serious but also bordered upon unspeakable. I wanted to declare that I would be there for her as she went through her cancer treatment, no babying intended. Emotional Support Animals have become troublesome, as many have seized the opportunity to declare their pet as such and thereby gain the privilege of hauling them onto airplanes without paying fares. And it's not just been dogs and cats, but every manner of critter to the point where airlines and the FAA have had to make rules ever stricter. I think it was the alligator or perhaps the ostrich that nudged the practice into untenable territory. Now, one needs evidence that the animal serves as essential emotional support, a level of proof that I suspect should border the impossible to show. Emotional support rarely seems critical.

The Muse probably didn't need the support I offered, but I'd felt it important to offer it nonetheless.
It was a courtesy that, even though we've been married twenty years, still seemed necessary to observe. I did not buy the tee shirt or commission a brightly-colored over-vest. I kept my presence low key. I didn't want to offend anybody. There were people at the cancer center who were one whole lot worse off than we were, and, face it, cancer's serious business. I didn't need anybody interpreting my actions as smart-assed inappropriate in the circumstances, like a pet panther showing up in first class. I intended to make my intentions explicit, since the implicit seemed materially deficient. Even long-married couples sometimes benefit from formal declarations of love and concern, appreciation and care. I just wanted her to understand that I would be there whatever happened, even though I didn't then understand the breadth of my charter.

In my life so far, I've sometimes found it useful to employ hyperbole to mark my territory. Back when I worked for The Insurance Company, I frequently declared that I worked for The Best Of All Possible Mutual Life Insurance Companies In The Greater Portland Metropolitan Area, Bar None, even though I worked for the only one headquartered there. I'd characterize my beater car as my chariot and my yard clothes as my tuxedo more in deference than in jest. I often found that mischaracterizing up could conjure sympathetic responses. Hell if I didn't feel better when weeding my garden in my tux! Serious business demands light hearts, which seem to perform slight-of-hand magic in its presence. Put a ridiculous hat on tragic and it loses much of its dark magic. Life remains altogether too serious to take too awfully seriously.

Now that The Muse is on the mend, her Emotional Support Animal senses the end of his relevant range. She insists that I might linger until she receives her final immunotherapy infusion in ten days, but even that sure seems like a narrow charter. I'm feeling twinges of impending irrelevance, a little identity crisis coming. I might even require my own Emotional Support Animal to get over my role as her Emotional Support Animal. We'll see how this transition goes. She can be fiercely independent, snapping at even the better-intended intentions to help. She cannot countenance anybody cutting her meat for her or, really, anyone even attempting to do what she can easily do for herself. I'm well-practiced at slinking back to my neutral corner, a little disappointed that I couldn't be anyone's savior, especially anyone who never really needed my kind of salvation. I find my redemption lurking in the far back corner of my original intention. I wanted her to know that I would be there for her as she wended her way through her cancer treatments, and so I have been. Time to retire the mascot and move on and into the next chapter, where, maybe I could try my hand at becoming someone's Emotional Support Vegetable instead.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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