Gavel Gamut

By Jim Redwine

(Week of 23 March 2015)


Other than the Essenes, a few other religious zealots and maybe Henry David Thoreau, most people spend a great deal of time and effort seeking material, as opposed to ethereal, things. That is, many of us, Peg and I included, dream of being wealthy.

Of course, if we define wealth as Pollyanna might, that is, being satisfied with whatever life affords us, we are already wealthy. I say, balderdash; normal people want more stuff and we envy those who have a lot of it. But, a lot of what?

As that green-eyed monster devours us, we have certain markers to consider. Greed may be a deadly sin, but poverty ain’t no picnic either. So, “what do the throned folk have we simple folk do not”, as King Arthur might say? How should we keep score?

It seems a lot of the rich, especially the nouveau variety, conspicuously indulge in such items as skins of once-living mammals, automobiles that cost more than pieces of heavy construction equipment, cozy jet airplanes used to avoid the arrogance of the TSA, homes large enough for entire tribes of Native Americans seeking gambling licenses, rare wines that may actually taste like aftershave but are rolled around palates ostentatiously, and pets that have jeweled collars, unpronounceable breed names and purchase prices that would rival a price for Cerberus, if he were for sale.

In fact, wealthy people, who often act as if the proletariat is best kept at a distance, seem to revel in publicly walking expensive, and often ugly, dogs and cats. One does not need to see a net worth analysis to know that a person with a costly pet is, as F. Scott Fitzgerald might say, “…very different from you and me”.

This last indicator of wealth has given Peg and me some hope that upward mobility may, as yet, be possible for us. And this possibility helps assuage the damage done to our family budget by the veterinary bills we have incurred this month for our fifteen year old dog and our free cat.

Haley, the dog, is deaf and has cataracts. She somehow managed to catch one of her toenails in something. It bled all over Peg’s white carpet and required surgical attention. The dog is fine now. However, we had to cancel our dinner reservations for Peg’s birthday.

Ajax, the cat, was a gift. We live in the country and accepted this “free” animal because field mice see our converted barn-home as a hotel. Something, most likely one of the ubiquitous coyotes, or as Yankees say, coyotees, tried to have Ajax for supper. Ajax’s right rear leg was almost ripped off. Peg ran him into the vet who said cats and dogs can do quite well with three legs. Maybe so, but our four-legged cat barely escaped. Therefore, orthopedic surgery was the recommendation.

Did you know there were orthopedic surgeons for cats? Me neither. I grew up in cattle country where the only animals that ever saw a vet were cows and horses. All other domesticated animals fended for themselves or were “doctored” by their owners.

Well, it looks like Ajax is going to recover and keep his entire complement of appendages. Peg and I on the other hand have lost “an arm and a leg”. On the other-other hand, we now have expensive pets. What I plan to do is get a collar for each of them with the cost of their care set forth in large numerals.

I guess we might now pass for, at least, members of the hoi polloi. Somehow I am not reassured.


  1. “The hoi polloi” actually means the common people, the rabble–which is the exact opposite of the way you used it in the last paragraph. “Hoi polloi” is Greek for “the many.”

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