DogHouse Manifesto

Frank Sinatra

I was busy at work in The Doghouse, but I wasn’t ‘in’ the doghouse, if you know what I mean. Lately, I have managed not only to stay out of trouble, but I have actually been wonderful in the process- go figure.

I have to think how I did that- be wonderful, I mean- so I can do it more often…

Anyway, it was knife-sharpening day. We have four different kinds of knives in our house: butter knives, which nobody cares about, because, well- they’re butter knives: (okay, in my house, it’s unsaturated, low fat, low sodium Oleo, which costs more than actual butter, but I’m healthier and living longer- at least that’s what she tells me!) steak knives, which, again nobody cares about, because I rarely get steak: (and let’s face it, if you need a steak knife for butter, fish, chicken, or a truly and correctly aged and ‘perfection’ grilled steak, then you’re just a big sissy!) her stupid little, impossibly dull  paring knife, which she uses for literally everything and forbids me to sharpen because- actually, I have no idea why (!)- and then, there are my expensive collection of high quality carbon content, exquisitely crafted, German Butcher-Grade set of steel blades, that nobody except me gets to use.

In the big book of the DHMF, (Doghouse Manifesto) the rules are: “A dull knife is more useless than tits on a bull: for more on this, see the following chapters on: Steers and Eunuchs- Why They Are Not The Same.

And, I have the whole nine yards, when it comes to my knives. I have the big French, the medium and the small French; the big, medium and small scalloped edge French knives; a cheese knife, (A knife just for cheese?! I know, right?) three different sizes and shapes of paring knives; a serrated bread knife, an extra long standard carving knife for turkey, ham and ‘Roast Beast’, for those Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations we never have; four different lengths of all service utility blades, two different sizes of boning knives- some weird looking little ‘skinner’ for, I don’t know what; a trio of cleavers and a coarse and a fine grit steel for honing them!

And, I keep them all “Sweeny Todd”, murdering, shaving sharp.

I don’t ever get to use them, because she never lets me in the kitchen to cook anything- but just in case hell ever freezes over, I have them, and they are razor quick, because once a month, I take the whole set out into ‘The Doghouse’ for a whetting session.

I have two dry stones, both coarse and fine grit blocks; two wet stones, both coarse and fine grit, two oil stones, coarse and fine grit, and two oversized leather barber’s strops for finishing.

All in all, it makes for a good day, and it keeps me out of trouble. Mostly.

I had Frank Sinatra’s, “Ocean’s Eleven” in the VCR and was busy at my workbench.

          “That’s a pretty bad movie, grandpa.” Timmy said.

I looked up to find little Timmy, ‘the Missionary’ behind me. I squinted at him.

          “How did you get in here?” I quizzed him with a pointed finger.

He took in a deep satisfied breath and pointed;

          “Through Eightball’s dogdoor.” He said proudly. “You never even heard me!” He giggled. Eightball stirred momentarily at hearing his name. He farted and went back to sleep.

I made a mental note-

          “Get one collar bell for her, and an extra small one for Timmy!” I thought to myself.

I turned back to my work.

         “Whaddya mean, ‘that’s a pretty bad movie?’” I asked him.

Timmy crawled up on the stool next to me. He was bathed in the glow of the TV screen, in the semi-darkness.

          “What’cha doin?” He asked as he picked up one of my knives. “Those guys aren’t very good actors.” He added.

I reached over and cautiously took my knife from him.

          “Careful,” I warned, “That’s VERY sharp! And, they don’t have to be good actors; they’re ‘The Rat Pack.’”

          “Can I help?” He asked me as he pointed to the knife I had just taken from him. “They’re the who-what?” He added.

I narrowed my eyes at him, and paused.

          “Can we have just one conversation at a time?” I asked him. “I’m getting confused.”

Timmy grinned wide.

          “You’re not very smart, are you?”

I feigned a great insult.

          “I am too!” I insisted.

          “Yeah?” He asked me, as he put his hands on his hips. “I can multiply 15 x 45 in my head, can you?”

I paused a moment.

          “Uhm… well, let’s see-”

          “675!” He shouted.

I took in a breath through my nose and snorted it out.

          “You’re a little smart-ass, aren’t you?”

It was Timmy’s turn to feign shock.

          “I’m gonna tell Auntie- you said ‘ass!’”

That got me. I had to admit it; he had me on that one.

          “No, you’re not.” I told him.


          “’Cuz ‘real men’ don’t squeal on each other.” I said. “And, you’re right. I shouldn’t say ‘ass’, and neither should you. I’ll tell you what; I won’t say it, if you won’t. And, as for the movie, that’s Frank Sinatra.”

When in doubt, always change the subject, just remember: it works with kids- mostly- but not women, unless they’re truly really dumb and I have to tell you, I have never run into a truly, really dumb woman. The ones you think are truly really dumb are only playing truly really dumb, and they’re doing it for a reason, (usually to take advantage of a man) and that’s smart, not truly really dumb.

That most men never seem to catch on is- well- you get the idea…

Timmy was surprised. He leaned into the TV screen.

          “Really? Which one?”

I pointed to the screen.

          “Him. That guy. And, that’s Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr., and a bunch of other guys”

Timmy wrinkled his nose.

          “I think I like listening to him more than I like to watch him.” He said.

Timmy looked at the other movies I had on my shelf.

          “The Great Race?” He asked. “Like on TV?”

I pulled the movie down from the shelf, and shoved it into the VCR.

          “No. You’re thinking of ‘The Amazing Race’ ™, that idiot television show! This is an old time movie about a couple of guys and a girl racing cars from New York City to Paris at the turn of the century.”

          “At the turn of the what?” he asked.

Knife sharpening could wait. Timmy was just about old enough for Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood and some slapstick car race hi-jinx. Besides, the big book of the DHMF, (Doghouse Manifesto) states, and quite clearly: “All ‘real men’ take time for children- their own, or somebody else’s, it doesn’t matter- and introducing a child to a good old movie, always makes for a good old day!”

I grabbed a couple of rootbeers from the Doghouse fridge, threw a packet of ‘Crackle Snap’ microwave popcorn into the oven, and pushed ‘play’ on the VCR.

I would teach Timmy the pleasure of sharpening knives another time.

For now, Tony Curtis- ‘You good Leslie, you!’- Jack Lemmon- ‘I used to ride my pony up and down this corridor… then I grew up, got drunk, and fell off!’- and the gang were about to have one of Hollywood’s best all-time pie fights:

“I… am Professor Fate!”

Eightball Sneaky Laugh




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