Today’s news brings out reminiscence of the past |

Today’s news brings out reminiscence of the past


Whenever you have a meltdown, aren’t you glad you don’t have hundreds of paparazzi flashing their cameras in your face?That’s been my reaction to the whole “Britney Shears” thing, when pop star (notice I didn’t say “singer”) Britney Spears flounced into a hair salon and shaved her head last weekend, causing all the television pop psychologists with nothing better to do (I mean, they’re on TV – they don’t have any REAL patients to take care of) to interpret her actions as a “cry for help.” In other words, spoiled or not, the girl’s having an honest-to-goodness meltdown.All of us have meltdowns. I mean, that’s what dogs are for, right? The old term for meltdown used to be “nervous breakdown,” a condition that caused people to do things like run off and join the circus. Now, they shave their heads and get tattooed while listening to Janis Joplin. Same complaint, different remedy.Hearing about high-profile meltdowns makes you think of the outlandish things you actually DID do when you were young, out of rebellion, extreme stupidity, or both.During some of my more outlandish years, I was once tempted to join a troupe of Renaissance Festival performers, and even tried to learn to juggle (I still can’t). Only a lucrative career as a nightclub musician – and the fact that I couldn’t juggle – held me back. I guess the most outlandish thing I ever did was to become a street performer in London, but I did that to make a living, not a personal statement.As we get older, mercifully, a sort of selective memory kicks in, causing you to actually forget some of the more surrealistic episodes in your life – if you’re lucky.Last night, Tim and I got fed up with cable and started listening to those TV music channels – you know, the ones where they play just the music, no videos. Suddenly, thanks to a prodding of my memory cells by the Classic Rock station’s playlist, I remembered the unimaginable: I used to sing “Bebe Le Strange” by Heart with a rock band in Saint Louis.The band was called “The Surgeons” because the musicians were all pre-med students doing their residency at Barnes Hospital. For a garage band, they were pretty good, and since I could do a passable imitation of Ann Wilson, they got me to do a lot of Heart songs. To be honest, we never performed publicly – we just rehearsed, which I’m convinced now is a good thing, because for our upcoming gigs they were planning to wear surgical garb and outfit me in a candy striper outfit.They say that the biggest regrets in life are over the things you haven’t done, rather than the things you have. Considering some of my memories, I’m not so sure about that.***And now, on to more important news …Let’s hear it for Velvet, the black Lab! If there’s some kind of doggie medal for heroism, combined with a lifetime supply of jerky treats, this dog deserves it.For those too caught up in this week’s celebrity crying jags to keep up with the real news, Velvet helped to rescue his human companions who, while climbing Mount Hood, got caught in a snowstorm. With canine compassion and a lot of Labrador savvy, he climbed on top of them at night and kept them warm so they wouldn’t freeze to death.Velvet’s heroic deed reminds me of something that Bosco, my black Lab, did once. I was lying on the sofa in my parent’s house, struck down rather pathetically from some illness or other, and was visibly having chills. Bosco was watching me with some concern from his sofa when suddenly he slid down, came over to me and, with great difficulty (he had an iron rod in one leg) climbed on top of me and stretched himself out completely over me to get me warm. I’ve never forgotten it; I guess it’s something that black Labs do. But with all the sleazy celebrity news lately, it’s rather telling of us (and our interests) that it took the story of a dog saving lives to bring us back down to reality a bit – the kind of reality that makes you glad to be alive and inspires you to go out and do something good for somebody, somewhere. Thanks, Velvet, and long may you wag.

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