Dignity is easier to swallow with a little hot sauce

imageWithin our lives there are certain moments that inspire a deeper understanding of ourselves. I experienced such an epiphany yesterday morning during a quiet moment of introspection; crouched in the backyard; sprinkling dog poop with hot sauce.

To clarify, I was not attempting to create the world’s most disgusting Cajun appetizer. According to a book on canine behavior, this would train our dog to avoid eating his “leftovers.” It was in that moment, while clutching a bottle of Tabasco and trying not to be seen by my neighbors, I came to realize that somewhere along the way providing our dog with decent manners had become more important than maintaining my personal dignity.

How did this happen?

I’m a 49-year-old man who survived the diaper phases of two children — both of whom were heavy eaters. I’ve had my share of high profile, low-dignity diaper changes, one of which required quick thinking, commando-like precision, and a paper plate. I’ve sat across from my four-year-old son at a busy restaurant in downtown San Francisco, handed him a cheese stick appetizer, and watched him yak up what appeared to be everything he’d consumed since graduating to solid foods. I tried to salvage the situation by waiting for a lull in gastrol activity and then racing him into the men’s room. And let me just say had the rest rooms been clearly marked, we probably would’ve made it. 

What got me through those times, of course, was knowing, as a parent, I could look forward to eventually becoming an embarrassment to my children once they entered middle school.

However, as I crouched over Stanley’s latest pile with my Tabasco bottle at the ready, one thought kept running through my mind:

You can’t embarrass a dog. Particularly one with questionable intelligence.

This meant I had either (a) matured to the point of not caring what others thought of me based on their own one-dimensional perception, or (b) succumbed to the realization that the last of my dignity had been wrung out into a mop bucket in San Francisco.

In either case, it meant I had moved on to a new phase in my life. A time that will eventually prepare me for my later years, when I’m secure enough in myself that the opinions of others — or even the basic rules of traffic — no longer matter. However, reaching that level of self assuredness is still years away, which is why, after noticing I’d been crouched over the same pile for several minutes, I quickly sprinkled it and moved on.

As far as I can tell, Stanley is no longer interested in his “leftovers.” I know this because he has stopped coming in from outside and standing with his tongue in the water bowl. At the same time, it’s proven to be a trade-off since I can’t put Tabasco on my eggs without getting queasy.

The important thing is that the experience has allowed me to achieve some personal growth thanks to a few moments of introspection about fodderhood.



(You can write to Ned Hickson at nedhickson@icloud.com, or at the Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR 97439)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

43 thoughts on “Dignity is easier to swallow with a little hot sauce”

  1. This is outstanding. Now, if I only had the patience and extreme sleuthing skills to locate all the stray cat shit around our property, I’d have one less dog with death breath.

  2. I am trying to come up with some smart remark here but the vision of you squatting over your dog’s poop, pouring hot sauce on it, is leaving me speechless! One never knows to what level we will have to scoop.

      1. It’s this wonderful place her in LA, built on a salt dome – which basically means it’s 0.6 m above sea/marsh level. The factory is quaint, with a constant stream of free tours, ending with the tourist being given a wee bottle of the stuff. The gift shop is a riot of pepper products. The real jewel, however, is the Jungle Gardens. Beautiful southern flora – ancient live oaks and wisteria – peppered with fauna – gators everywhere (they cull out the larger ones, as there is no barrier between you and them) and a lovely egret nesting area/sanctuary. It is pretty cool. We go fairly regularly.

        With that, the State of Louisiana can give me my kickback, please!

  3. Holy Moly!!! (Not sure of the proper spelling for Moly), Such images that came to mind. Thanks though Ned for inspiring my next book–Eliminating Gastrointestinal Smell from my Dog. 🙂

  4. We were not created to eat the food which we do enjoy. No, salt should be illegal and hot sauce should be tabled. Blah should be the new normal.

  5. Oh, the stories I could tell. The only way we could get our youngest potty trained was to set the potty chair outside in the sandbox.
    So convenient! One moment he’s playing with Tonka trucks and the next he’s popping a squat in the sand. All fine and good until you have company over and remember that it’s not normal to have a toddler pooping in the back yard. And secondly, you gotta watch the dogs circling the sandbox – they think that stuff is as tasty as a Scoobie snack.
    Hmmm…got some extra cayenne I can borrow? My 2-year old niece is coming to visit…

    1. Lol! I think I might’ve considered saving a step and just got a catbox. But that’s just me… And yeah, I’m overnighting you some “Slap Yo Mama” hot sauce (family favorite) as we speak!

  6. Epiphanies happens when we’re crouched in the most obscure places. I remember bending over with a toilet brush in hand, realizing that my frenetic cleaning was not for the sake of cleanliness — it was a ritual I’d learned from my mother. It left me with a sense of control and accomplishment. I never knew mom was so insecure. 🙂

  7. Okay, she who last laughs has the slowest sense of humor…lol, i finally got it. Like your last commenter said, I’d probably clean it up. As I’m frequently reminded, I have no kids or dogs so my opinion has 0 weight. This was funny though!

No one is watching, I swear...

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