• The blame game
    April 07,2014

    Americans live in a culture of blame. It is much easier to point the finger at someone

    else than take responsibility for our own shortcomings. Sometimes, when no one else is around to blame, we resort to the next available target. The other day I was rushing to get to an appointment on time. I knew it couldn’t be my own fault that I was running late. As it turned out my dog was to blame for my speeding down the interstate. He has been eating too much.

    About a week ago, a perfectly delightful afternoon was shattered by a friend who hinted that my pet might be gaining a bit of weight. Her exact words were, “Yogi sure is getting fat.” This struck me as a very personal, insensitive comment, and to say I took

    offense to the observation would be an understatement. Tell me my allegiance to a certain New York baseball team is misguided. Tell me you notice wax build-up on my bathroom floor. Tell me I look like a goober in the photo accompanying this column. But never tell me my dog is getting fat.

    Needless to say I totally denied any weight gain on the part of my beloved canine. “It just appears he is heavier because his groomer tried a new fur style on him,” I said, grasping at straws. But truth be told, I did start to notice indications that my friend might be right. Little things, like the floor would creak as Yogi walked down the hallway, and when he stepped on my foot recently he bruised three of my toes. And then there was the incident the other day when I went to take him for a ride to the store. Yogi jumped onto the front passenger seat and the seatbelt indicator began to beep. The dog had finally tipped the scales to the point where the car recognized the animal as heavy enough to be a human, and determined that this particular “human” had not buckled up. Yeah, the dog was starting to become gravitationally challenged.

    The next day I had a doctor’s appointment. I have a healthy respect for those in the medical profession since they have the ability to poke, prod and cause general discomfort at the drop of a pill. I left the house with a half hour to spare in order to arrive several minutes early for check-in. As I was driving down the interstate I looked at the car clock and saw it was already time for my appointment. Somehow I had “lost” a half hour and was going to be late!

    I had visions of the good doctor exacting his revenge for my tardiness with an impromptu prostate exam. This fueled my desire to make up for lost time, and I actually started to drive fast. Fast is a relative term, though not a term any of my relatives would use to describe my driving. While admittedly an extremely slow driver, desperate times called for desperate measures. I hit the gas and began to careen down the interstate at a blinding 58 miles per hour. Things got so out of hand that I actually changed lanes once and passed another vehicle. Granted, the driver was pulled over on the side of the road talking on his cellphone. But I blew right by him.

    When I arrived at the doctor’s office, I hurried in ready to throw myself at the mercy of the receptionist with an elaborate tale involving a train derailment, carjackers, kidnapping, and an escaped circus elephant. “You are right on time,” she said handing me a pre-registration form to fill out. A glance at the clock revealed I was 10 minutes early for my appointment.

    I was sweating profusely from a combination of hurrying and worrying about being late, and I was on time. It occurred to me that I had been driving like a lunatic for no reason at all. Clearly this wasn’t my fault. And it wasn’t the doctor’s fault because the appointment had been set weeks earlier.

    It wasn’t until I returned to the car that I realized what had happened. When the dog was setting off the seat belt buzzer the other day I was hitting every button I could find in the car to deactivate the passenger air bag, and had inadvertently advanced the time on the clock by 20 minutes. That damn dog with the weight problem was the cause of my rushing and reckless driving.

    Yup, it was all Yogi’s fault. Well placed blame can have a calming effect on your soul, and suddenly I felt better.

    And as for looking like a goober in my profile picture? That was the photographer’s fault.

    Mark S. Albury lives in Northfield Falls.

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