To Serve The Rice Crispy Bars or The Tiger? I have written some awful things in this column over the years, things that I am horrified by. Yet, the only time I have had to apologize was a story I told over a decade ago and am about to tell again. I love the wonderful short story, The Lady or The Tiger?, by Frank Stockton. For those of you not familiar with the tale, a princess takes a lover below her status. When her father finds out, he has the young man imprisoned. Like an ancient version of Let’s Make A Deal, the king liked to put on a show trial for the people. The prisoner was given the choice of opening one of two doors. Behind one door is a tiger who will rip the prisoner limb from limb. Behind the other is a beautiful maiden with whom the prisoner will spend the rest of his life married to. Not the princess! Mercy or carnage?   Those of you who have been divorced, please stop yelling, “Pick the tiger. Pick the tiger. It will be less painful.” Just pretend that there are happy endings. The princess, because she truly loves the young man, does everything she can to find out behind which door the tiger will be, which she does. At the last moment she learns that the lady behind the other door is her bitter enemy, a woman she hates with every fiber of her being. The young man is lead out to stand before the two doors. He looks up to his former lover for a sign as to which door he should pick. If she signals to him to pick the door with the tiger behind it, he will be killed. If she indicates the second door, she will reward her female rival with a lifetime of happiness and joy. Which door does she choose? There the story ends. The reader never learns whether the young man was mauled by the tiger or took the hand of the maiden. It leaves the choice to the mind of the reader.  Which one would you choose? The lady or the tiger story of my life involves a dog named Socco. Everybody else in my family called her Psycho. Socco was my first rescue dog, a beautiful English Setter with the most soulful brown eyes I have ever seen. She was found on a street corner in Des Moines. For the life of me, I could not figure out why no one ever stepped forward to claim her.   It took a day to figure out why. Socco was the Steve McQueen in The Great Escape of the dog world. She was a super villain of the canine world when it came to garnering her freedom. Doors, windows, it didn’t matter. She slid under the closing garage door like she was Indiana Jones being chased by the boulder in the opening of the first movie. Another time I came home and could not find her. I finally heard her crawling around in the walls. She had popped a ventilation grate open and was in the ductwork! I put her on a chain. She figured out how to open the clasp by spinning it with her paw. I super glued the spinning part of the clasp shut. She responded by wrapping the chain around the stake until she could put the stake out of the ground. I saw her leap a six-foot wall. Once out, she would run for hours, not joking, hours. She would not stop for a break. She just ran. I got to know my neighbors extremely well. Although, for some unknown reason they thought my name was Jackass. (phone rings) Me: “Hello.” Neighbor: “Hey, Jackass, your dog just ran through my backyard again.” There would be dozens of these calls. Even when I could somehow keep her in the house, she was a hurricane of destruction. She ate a piece of corn from The Field of Dreams that my sister had given me and left the aftermath all over the house. She ate a mental can of potpourri. I don’t know how she did it and did not die, but she did it. Candles, cushions, almost anything made of wood, she was not picky about what she put her teeth into. The entire house was her toilet bowl and the problem was I had white carpet downstairs. I did not know how to handle her. It took me a long time to have the skills to train a dog properly. Then I got fired. I had a boss who never wanted me in the first place. I was forced on him. The first day I overheard him say, “I’m going to run the kid.” I threw up every morning in the parking lot before walking into work as he quietly cut my throat, blindsiding me in meetings and bad mouthing me to those in power. I could have been incompetent. I just never had the chance to show it.  [Pub. note: I have apologized] It was one of those cases of what he meant for evil, God or fate meant for good in the long run. The problem was I had to swallow my pride and move back in with my parents. My parents also got to enjoy Socco in all her glory. The only difference is now it was my parents’ phone my neighbors were calling.  That dog was making the family proud. My family is blessed to be filled with strong women. My mom is the greatest person in the world. She somehow kept a whole host of kids, their friends, dogs, cats, horses, and almost every other creature under the sun at one time or another marching forward.  It is one of the reasons she does not tolerant excuses. Our church had a social hour after Sunday services. Every week two or three women would be asked to provide treats or snacks of some sort. Some of the younger women were a bit slack when it came their turn to provide something to nibble on. It finally got unacceptable and my mother let them know in no uncertain terms how she felt. The very next week was her turn. The women in my family are amazing cooks, especially my mom. I have always claimed I could make a million dollars putting their recipes together in a book and entitling it, “There’s A Reason We Are Fat.” My mom makes some mean rice crispy bars. They are covered in chocolate. You start drooling just being near them. Saturday night, my mom made a whole pan of them and left them overnight to harden. I awoke Sunday morning to my mother screaming my name. Looking around my bedroom, Socco was lying next to me, but the door was somehow open. She must have gotten out in the night and snuck upstairs. “You dumb dog,” I thought. “What did you do?” It was then I noticed the dark brown stain across her white muzzle. Running upstairs, there was the tray of rice crispy bars, just without the chocolate. My dog had jumped up on the butcher block and licked all of the chocolate off the bars. The rice crispy part of the bars was in perfect shape. Chocolate is not good for dogs, but thankfully it was milk chocolate, which was not going to kill my beloved pet. My family is never late for anything, ever. We are people who could get a flat tire on the way to church, change it, and still turn the lights on in the building as we are walking in. For one of the few times in their life my parents were late for church. There wasn’t even time to stop by the grocery store to pick something up. My mother was about to eat crow, and it was my dog’s fault, i.e. my fault. She had just scolded these young women about not fulfilling their commitments. Now, she was going to have to go to church snackless! “What am I going to do?” she demanded. Clearly my miserable life was going to get a lot more miserable. It was then that I noticed there was still a lot of chocolate in the mixing bowl, which I pointed out. She might not have to eat crow after all. Did my mom serve the church dog-licked rice crispy bars or was she humiliated in front of the congregation? The lady or the tiger? Which did she choose? It is here where I ended the story. What did I learn from this column? First, I am a moron.  Second, even my publisher is terrified of my mom. She got a front-page apology. Even though it destroys the impact of a great story, my mother did not serve dog-licked rice crispy bars to her church. I would have. She didn’t and would never think about doing such a thing.   It seems in telling this story that way I had picked the tiger. [Pub. note: Mrs. Soderstrum is a SAINT. Trevor, not so much!]
To Serve The Rice Crispy Bars or The Tiger? I have written some awful things in this column over the years, things that I am horrified by. Yet, the only time I have had to apologize was a story I told over a decade ago and am about to tell again. I love the wonderful short story, The Lady or The Tiger?, by Frank Stockton. For those of you not familiar with the tale, a princess takes a lover below her status. When her father finds out, he has the young man imprisoned. Like an ancient version of Let’s Make A Deal, the king liked to put on a show trial for the people. The prisoner was given the choice of opening one of two doors. Behind one door is a tiger who will rip the prisoner limb from limb. Behind the other is a beautiful maiden with whom the prisoner will spend the rest of his life married to. Not the princess! Mercy or carnage?   Those of you who have been divorced, please stop yelling, “Pick the tiger. Pick the tiger. It will be less painful.” Just pretend that there are happy endings. The princess, because she truly loves the young man, does everything she can to find out behind which door the tiger will be, which she does. At the last moment she learns that the lady behind the other door is her bitter enemy, a woman she hates with every fiber of her being. The young man is lead out to stand before the two doors. He looks up to his former lover for a sign as to which door he should pick. If she signals to him to pick the door with the tiger behind it, he will be killed. If she indicates the second door, she will reward her female rival with a lifetime of happiness and joy. Which door does she choose? There the story ends. The reader never learns whether the young man was mauled by the tiger or took the hand of the maiden. It leaves the choice to the mind of the reader.  Which one would you choose? The lady or the tiger story of my life involves a dog named Socco. Everybody else in my family called her Psycho. Socco was my first rescue dog, a beautiful English Setter with the most soulful brown eyes I have ever seen. She was found on a street corner in Des Moines. For the life of me, I could not figure out why no one ever stepped forward to claim her.   It took a day to figure out why. Socco was the Steve McQueen in The Great Escape of the dog world. She was a super villain of the canine world when it came to garnering her freedom. Doors, windows, it didn’t matter. She slid under the closing garage door like she was Indiana Jones being chased by the boulder in the opening of the first movie. Another time I came home and could not find her. I finally heard her crawling around in the walls. She had popped a ventilation grate open and was in the ductwork! I put her on a chain. She figured out how to open the clasp by spinning it with her paw. I super glued the spinning part of the clasp shut. She responded by wrapping the chain around the stake until she could put the stake out of the ground. I saw her leap a six-foot wall. Once out, she would run for hours, not joking, hours. She would not stop for a break. She just ran. I got to know my neighbors extremely well. Although, for some unknown reason they thought my name was Jackass. (phone rings) Me: “Hello.” Neighbor: “Hey, Jackass, your dog just ran through my backyard again.” There would be dozens of these calls. Even when I could somehow keep her in the house, she was a hurricane of destruction. She ate a piece of corn from The Field of Dreams that my sister had given me and left the aftermath all over the house. She ate a mental can of potpourri. I don’t know how she did it and did not die, but she did it. Candles, cushions, almost anything made of wood, she was not picky about what she put her teeth into. The entire house was her toilet bowl and the problem was I had white carpet downstairs. I did not know how to handle her. It took me a long time to have the skills to train a dog properly. Then I got fired. I had a boss who never wanted me in the first place. I was forced on him. The first day I overheard him say, “I’m going to run the kid.” I threw up every morning in the parking lot before walking into work as he quietly cut my throat, blindsiding me in meetings and bad mouthing me to those in power. I could have been incompetent. I just never had the chance to show it.  [Pub. note: I have apologized] It was one of those cases of what he meant for evil, God or fate meant for good in the long run. The problem was I had to swallow my pride and move back in with my parents. My parents also got to enjoy Socco in all her glory. The only difference is now it was my parents’ phone my neighbors were calling.  That dog was making the family proud. My family is blessed to be filled with strong women. My mom is the greatest person in the world. She somehow kept a whole host of kids, their friends, dogs, cats, horses, and almost every other creature under the sun at one time or another marching forward.  It is one of the reasons she does not tolerant excuses. Our church had a social hour after Sunday services. Every week two or three women would be asked to provide treats or snacks of some sort. Some of the younger women were a bit slack when it came their turn to provide something to nibble on. It finally got unacceptable and my mother let them know in no uncertain terms how she felt. The very next week was her turn. The women in my family are amazing cooks, especially my mom. I have always claimed I could make a million dollars putting their recipes together in a book and entitling it, “There’s A Reason We Are Fat.” My mom makes some mean rice crispy bars. They are covered in chocolate. You start drooling just being near them. Saturday night, my mom made a whole pan of them and left them overnight to harden. I awoke Sunday morning to my mother screaming my name. Looking around my bedroom, Socco was lying next to me, but the door was somehow open. She must have gotten out in the night and snuck upstairs. “You dumb dog,” I thought. “What did you do?” It was then I noticed the dark brown stain across her white muzzle. Running upstairs, there was the tray of rice crispy bars, just without the chocolate. My dog had jumped up on the butcher block and licked all of the chocolate off the bars. The rice crispy part of the bars was in perfect shape. Chocolate is not good for dogs, but thankfully it was milk chocolate, which was not going to kill my beloved pet. My family is never late for anything, ever. We are people who could get a flat tire on the way to church, change it, and still turn the lights on in the building as we are walking in. For one of the few times in their life my parents were late for church. There wasn’t even time to stop by the grocery store to pick something up. My mother was about to eat crow, and it was my dog’s fault, i.e. my fault. She had just scolded these young women about not fulfilling their commitments. Now, she was going to have to go to church snackless! “What am I going to do?” she demanded. Clearly my miserable life was going to get a lot more miserable. It was then that I noticed there was still a lot of chocolate in the mixing bowl, which I pointed out. She might not have to eat crow after all. Did my mom serve the church dog-licked rice crispy bars or was she humiliated in front of the congregation? The lady or the tiger? Which did she choose? It is here where I ended the story. What did I learn from this column? First, I am a moron.  Second, even my publisher is terrified of my mom. She got a front-page apology. Even though it destroys the impact of a great story, my mother did not serve dog-licked rice crispy bars to her church. I would have. She didn’t and would never think about doing such a thing.   It seems in telling this story that way I had picked the tiger. [Pub. note: Mrs. Soderstrum is a SAINT. Trevor, not so much!]