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Losses and gains

September 16, 2011
By BOB SEIDENSTEIN , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

I love mornings as long as I sleep through them.

And don't tell me how it's the most beautiful time of the day or that it's a whole new beginning or the rest of that bumpf. Far as I'm concerned, every part of the day is beautiful, and if you can't find a second chance for yourself at midnight as well as at dawn, then it's due to your lack of imagination, not the time itself.

Which is why at 0530 on Saturday morning, when my dog Shaky Jake came peeling into my room and started to do something that looked like the Macarena, I was not the least amused.

There was no way to avoid what happened next: I stumbled out of bed, put on my sweats and slippers, went downstairs and leashed up Jakey and took him out. Then I spent about a half-hour watching him wander to and fro in my side lot, eating quarts, perhaps even gallons, of grass - all due to an attack of Gurgle Gut.

And what, you might ask, is Gurgle Gut? Well, just that. And the gurgles are hardly soft and subtle. In fact, when he's downstairs and has a real major GG going on, I can actually hear his stomach from the distant remove of my bedroom, on the second floor.

As for the causes? You've got a better chance of figuring out the causes of wars, runaway inflations and the French adoration of Jerry Lewis.

Not that I didn't try. As might be expected, I checked the internet in depth, and almost every answer contradicted every other answer: "It's a sign of bloat." "It's a sign of ulcers." "It's a sign of nothing." "The dog should be seen by your vet." "I took my dog to the vet, had $800 of tests done and they found nothing." And so on and so forth.

Since it doesn't happen very often and there's no pattern to it, except that it always hits Jakey early in the morning, I just go with it. I stand outside by the dawn's early light while Jakey does his finest ruminant imitation. Then when he's finished I take him back in and watch him hop on the couch and sack out. Which is more than I can do, since I'm one of those oddballs who after I wake up, I cannot go back to sleep.

So while Jake snored softly in the living room, I brewed up my first gallon of coffee of the day, hoping this was not a portent of bad things to come. Unfortunately, it was.

Everything went fine till early afternoon, when I went to buy pet food, one of the two things in town I pay for with my credit card (the other is gas). Because I don't have a wallet and don't use the credit card very much, I keep it in a small notebook which I stash in my pack.

I went into the store, bought the food, paid for it and then hauled it out to the car. After that, I did some other chores and then went to buy gas, and when I did, I got a ghastly shock: My notebook was not in my pack.

I looked everywhere in the car - under, over, and in between everything, but no dice. Then I did the most logical thing and went back to the pet food store. No dice there either.

To say I was seriously bummed out is understatement, but not because of the credit card. I didn't care a whit about the credit card. What I did care about was the notebook. First, it'd been given to me by my pal Russell Sheffrin, who made the cover himself: It was fine leather, with my initials burned on the front. And aside from its excellent workmanship, it had a whole bunch of my friends' phone numbers and addresses, jokes, sayings and all sorts of stuff that impresses me and I write down at the moment, and have been for the past three years. Now it was all lost. And to some degree, so was I. So I did the most logical and likely thing - I indulged in a full-blown, one-man pity party.

I "Woe-Is-Me'd" it for the rest of the day, taking an occasional break only to look for my notebook, after which I cursed the fates and the universe for taking it, and then went back to feeling even sorrier for myself than I had before.

The party's over

By early evening I'd exhausted every possible nook and cranny as a hiding place for my notebook, and I'd exhausted my energies. And by late evening I'd exhausted something else: my patiencewith myself.

Yeah, I lost a lot of stuff, and valuable stuff at that. Maybe not valuable in a monetary sense, but valuable nonetheless. I can get phone numbers and addresses, eventually. But the notebook itself and all the minutiae in it are truly irreplaceable. There were some real words of wisdom, reminiscences, quotes, jokes, as well as a bunch of odd little notes that meant a lot to me but to no one else. One I just remembered: "Ed Keating's green feet." And now almost all of it is gone, gone, gone.

I'd mulled over that the entire day and into the night, when I suddenly realized I really had to change my mind-set.

I no longer had the notebook, and never would again. That was reality. But it wasn't the only one, because aside from that, I'd lost nothing. I still had all the important things in life I value - my health, my family, my friends. I've a job that's always been fulfilling; I live in my favorite place in the universe.

Even Jakey's Gurgle Gut is a wonderful thing, because as much as it bugs me now, I'll miss it terribly when he's no longer around.

Ultimately, it's not enough to only count your blessings - you've also got to appreciate them as well.



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