Dear Zachary

Dear Zachary,

You’re probably surprised to hear from me. Seeing a Biblical Jewish name on the class roster caught my attention. I have to admit that when I found out that you were a dog I was tempted to back away. I found myself confronting a touchy dilemma. If I did ignore you I could be accused of being an animal hater, and with a racist bent at that. Being the private and reserved man that I am it was difficult to openly share my inner conflicts, therefore I chose to drop you a few reassuring lines and flee overseas until the fallout subsided.

We have only been together for a dog-week, hardly enough time to strike a relationship. However, our Jewish names are not the only thing we have in common. Judging by your looks, I would say we are about the same age about seven dog years give or take a few months. I am a tad older but its character more than age that counts. We both feel the economic pressures of the times. Many of my ranks have been downsized, off-shored and out-sourced, as have many of your closer relatives. Greyhounds and Salukis have seen their mats by the fireplace handed to more physically attractive and marginally more intelligent Dobermans. The Doberman, in turn, has lost its stature of butcher guard dog to the less messy Rottweiler, which was fortunate to be employed, now that killer dog positions have been banned. Pit Bulls can no longer find jobs and have reverted to eating the neighbors. It is fast becoming a dog-eat-dog world out there. As secure and lovable as your species seems, your downfall might come when genetic research conjures a less fierce breed of Chihuahua that will not bite off the finger that feeds it. Have you seen what they can clone and cross breed these days? They are talking about reviving the Wooly Mammoth from the few strands of DNA which they found.

We share more mundane common ground as well. I believe it would be fair to say that no other member of your species is more humiliated by the barber, but rest assured you have my sympathy. I took many hair cuts in my time, and my memories remain fresh despite the fact that it has been many years since my last visit. I vividly recall the helpless feeling not being able to control the outcome. The horrors of facing society the day after still bring a chill to my spine. But you did not have hair cut around the tip of your spine! You say? That is a fair point, but I was circumcised, the ultimate tip cut of no return, where mistakes do not grow back. Of course you get to lick your lower parts, or have they neutered you?

As I passed through Airport security I thought of you in that bag you live in, passing through the X-Ray machine, both of you seeing each other’s internals. Without implying too much about your social status I assume we both fly in the mind-your-own-business class. In the newer planes there is an opening in the bulkhead which separates the privileged from the likes of us. Looking through that window I can get a glimpse of how the elite dine and sleep while I struggle to keep blood circulating to my legs and avoid pressure sores. But I’m not bitter; such experiences give me an opportunity to see how you live most of your life.

You might have been spared the humiliation of the health food mania. I cannot remember when I last had a genuine piece of meat dripping fat on my plate. I have been reduced to greens and beans, fish and lentils, white turkey breast without its skin, nuts and bolts. Do you know that my teenage boys will forgo premature sex to go to Tony Roma’s, so severe is their deprivation? On rare occasions we sneak over there. Do you remember ribs? I have seen dogs which have been forced to eat fruits and vegetables by demented owners who have lost sense of caninenimity. Some dogs can no longer tell the difference between a hamburger and a Portobello mushroom.

There is this veterinary clinic situated right next to a 7-Eleven (I have learned to spell the name of this establishment thanks to the feedback I got from the class) in Sunnyvale, a block up from the corner of Wolf (it’s just a name of a road) and Fremont Avenue. Perhaps when I come back we could meet in the small parking lot up front. I’ll buy us some beef jerky and we can sit by the clinic window and watch a cat get a colonoscopy or something. That would be nice.





One thought on “Dear Zachary

  1. Shalom Yiftah,

    You not only got my name right, but many other details too. I just turned seven on November 29th, the day after I flew back from Spokane. While in Spokane I wore my yarmulke and tallis, so you would have been proud (if not offended). The flight attendant had a rescue dog that had survived Katrina and she quickly learned my name and checked on me frequently. And I was groomed the Monday before Thanksgiving, and that experience hurts my pride and my one descending testicle…which brings me to the possibility that I still might get neutered to reduce the chance of testicular cancer. I’m still laughing from your letter, and need to re-read it.Of course I congratulate the readers in your class for offering the valuable feedback that resulted in the proper spelling of 7-Eleven….and I’m sure they’ll enjoy your five minute reading tomorrow—-Bonnie will sell you her five minutes for free. (if you want i will sit by you while you read your work….are you going to read your letter to me?)