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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #320
Large Coddle Dog
David Gunn

This is the story of a different house, a house by the name of Edgar Cold Lodge, an erstwhile inn that sits at the edge of a forest. In its days of hay, the Lodge attracted disparate travelers from distant lands who, intending to sojourn only the night, became enamored of its seemingly idyllic disposition and often lingered for twelve hundred more. But that was then. Nowadays, it is the house of Perez Tentfish, a small man with a large and brooding family. The family is borderline dysfunctional. Each member has a psychosis unique to him or herself, though they all carry the Tentfish "antisocietal" gene. Perez himself is not only small of stature but also small of mind. Like many of his forebears, chronic myopia from focusing on petty details has rendered him unable to conceive of a big picture, or at least of anything larger than a wallet-sized photo of an amortization contract. As his sights shrink, so, too, does his attention span, which now lurks in the microminutes. Still, nowhere is the trait of unsociability more pronounced than in the family pet, Large Coddle Dog, a quintessentially haughty and disdainful animal. Over the years, many visitors have tried to be Large Coddle Dog's friend. They have lavished attention on him, offered him treats, cooed words of comfort into his flea-bitten ears -- in other words, coddled him -- but for naught. Large Coddle Dog is very very good at receiving, but the best he gives in return is gnarls, growls, bites and off-putting intestinal gas, the last of which is in fact another trait the family shares. Most Tentfishers are so at odds with each other that they are unaware of the one room in the house that functions as a sanctuary, a room of reason amidst the familial turmoil. Located in the very bowels of the building, this small chamber is normally shunned by those family members who do know of it because of its name: Santiago Dirt Word. No one can recall who named it and, for no apparent reason, no one can think of a different name to call it. Though occasionally patrolled by Large Coddle Dog and, to a lesser degree, old Perez himself, Santiago Dirt Word, in spite of its name, is happily unencumbered by gas and petulance, and is the one room where people not of the Tentfish ilk are free to congregate, as they did in the old Lodge days. Although many of its visitors are brooding, psychotic social outcasts in their own right, none of them seems particularly myopic -- especially not the two visitors who materialize once a week and retreat to a tiny corner of the room set aside just for them: the Ivanhoe Guest Loft. These visitors, too, initially anticipated only the briefest association with the Dirt Word, but the promise of intellectual freedom persuaded them to stay, and stay, and stay. For more than six years, they have pilgrimaged weekly to the Ivanhoe Guest Loft. No one is quite certain of what they do in there, but they always neaten the room before they leave. Orderliness, however, is no longer good enough for Large Coddle Dog, and he has begun to skulk around the Dirt Word environs, sullen, snuffling, snarling and snappish.

One day as the two visitors make their weekly social call upon Santiago Dirt Word, Perez Tentfish and Large Coddle Dog are there blocking the entrance to Ivanhoe Guest Loft. No matter neither knows exactly what goes on inside the sanctum sanctorum, they do not approve. Perez has even written out in a small, cramped hand a list of grievances, either real or imagined, that he demands the two visitors address before allowing them access to the Loft. Large Coddle Dog growls in unwitting endorsement. The two visitors, accustomed to the comparative Age of Reason of the Edgar Cold Lodge days, balk. Old Perez and Dog then commence tearing down the Guest Loft, but not before the two visitors grab a few structural components and retreat to the relative refuge of the Dirt Word.

And that is where they remain to this day, a day that also accommodates the 320th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, a day that, for the moment, is as free of the restrictive Dog and Tentfish shackles as it is full of the muttered mumblings of Kalvos.