2005-10-13 / Sam Bari

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand

The $1,500 dog bath
By Sam Bari

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand

Have you ever noticed how something weird always happens when teenagers are given the task of disbursing money that is not theirs? In their defense, I am not saying that the strange events that occur concerning said funds are always their fault. However, more times than not, things do seem to go wrong. I’ll illustrate my point with this tale about a teenager, the family dog, and parents leaving for the weekend.

Fictitious names have been used because those involved do not deserve further suffering. In this case, the teenager and his family are of little consequence. The dog, however, shouldn’t be required to endure any more pain, emotional or otherwise.

Amale teenager, who we’ll call Pookie, was given $75 by his parents to take care of his expenses while they were gone for the weekend. (I chose the name Pookie because Pookie Grossberg was a childhood friend who was the perfect role model for the problematic teenager profile.) Anyway, Pookie was instructed to use $35 of his expense money to have the family dog, Bullwrinkle, a pedigreed English bulldog, bathed. His parents left late Friday afternoon and were returning at a non-specified time on Sunday.

Before his mom and dad pulled out of the driveway, Pookie had plans for the $75, and grooming Bullwrinkle wasn’t in any of them. Like most teenagers, the concept of money in his hands, no matter the reason, meant: How can I spend this on myself and get away with it before somebody takes it back or makes me do something else? To teenagers, quest for “free money” is a noble pursuit. To unsuspecting parents, giving cash to their offspring for any purpose other than kissing it goodbye is pure folly.

On Saturday morning, Pookie awoke to a rainy day. The weather presented a fortuitous opportunity. Since I have to take Bullwrinkle for a walk anyway, he thought, I may as well kill two birds with one stone. Rub in a little dab of Mom’s shampoo and a walk in the rain will do the trick.

To Pookie, a little dab meant half the bottle. Since he had never been a great reader of directions, the warning of “concentrate — use sparingly” — never registered in his pea-sized teenage brain.

So, with umbrella in one hand and bulldog trailing behind on a leash in the other, out the door they went. Bullwrinkle, being dumb as a post, was quite content to walk in the rain. Consequently, by the end of the first block, when they reached the busiest street in town, the bubbles generated by the liberal dousing of shampoo made Bullwrinkle look like a fat, iridescent white French poodle with an English bulldog face. Believe me — not an attractive animal.

By the time Pookie noticed that people were staring at them, they were in front of the ice cream store, a favorite teenage hangout. Bullwrinkle, aggravated by the bubbles, did what all dogs do when they are wet. He shook vigorously to rid his coat of the parasitic suds. Unfortunately, this little action generated even more bubbles. Now he resembled an iridescent-white, miniature sheep that hadn’t been shorn in at least a decade. With his bulldog face, he was indeed an extremely unattractive animal.

Pookie’s solution to the problem was to tie Bullwrinkle to the nearest parking meter and let the rain do its work while he went into the ice cream store to treat two cute girls to copious helpings of frozen goodies. Of course, this extravagance was financed with the money saved by not going to the pet groomer.

Meanwhile, Bullwrinkle was outside gathering a crowd with his bizarre appearance. The rain had stopped and he was still covered in bubbles. The poor dog then made the grave error of looking at his reflection in the door of a parked car. He was irreparably humiliated and mortified beyond description.

Unfortunately, the crowd included a policeman who immediately called a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals officer, who was on the scene in less than two minutes. This woman had the demeanor of a storm trooper and possessed little patience for pet owners who humiliate their animals. Bullwrinkle was whisked to the dog pound for a good rinsing.

Pookie came out of the ice cream parlor to find his dog stolen, or so he thought. He called the police who were not yet aware that the dog was at the pound. However, the following day when Pookie’s parents returned, an SPCA station wagon pulled in behind them in their driveway.

The storm trooper was happy to explain the entire story, which did not exactly match Pookie’s version. In the end, the attorney ($750), court costs and fine ($450), needed to be paid. Additionally, the fee for treatments for the dry skin condition Bullwrinkle acquired from the human shampoo was another $300. Thus, we have the $1,500 dog wash.

My point is: bizarre teenage behavior is an integral part of that system we have little hope of ever understanding. Don’t make it worse by giving them money.

Return to top