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The Soupster remembers when he could sit down over coffee with a friend and discuss the wisdom of dogs.
Originally published June 19, 2008, Submitted by Kathy Ingallinera
I turned the corner and reined in my dog, Solly, on her 16-foot retractable leash. Up ahead I could see a woman walking with her dog and I didn’t want Solly too far away and out of control. “Oh, it’s Cody. You know Cody,” I said to my four-legged companion as she pulled on the leash and strained to get closer to the other dog.
“Hi, how are you?” I said in passing to the woman.
I heard her speaking to her dog as I walked by. “That’s Solly. You’ve met Solly before.” She guided the older collie, as she waved at me and shouted, “Have a good day.”
“You too. Come on, Solly, I have to get to work.” We headed back towards home.
“Here comes Bach!” I looked at Solly but it was obvious that she had seen Bach before I did. Her eyes brightened and she yanked at the leash, looking back at me to tell me to hurry up.
As Bach and his person got closer, Solly and I crossed the street so the dogs could interact. “Hi Bach, how are you?” I bent over and scratched the old black lab on his head and offered him a treat.
Bach’s owner bent over, patting his thigh, calling softly to my dog. “Come here, Solly.” When both dogs were done sniffing, we went our separate ways calling, “Have a good day,” to each other.
We ran into several other dogs and their humans on the walk. I called dogs by their names and exchanged pleasantries with their owners.
After work I stopped by a café strategically located behind a local bookstore. I pulled a chair up to a round table to engage the Soupster in some repartee.
“Good afternoon Soupster. I’m doing a survey. Do you have a dog?” He nodded yes.
“Do you walk your dog?” I asked.
“And do you run into others walking their dogs?” I continued.
“Yes, again. Am I going to win a prize?”
“No. Do you know the names of the dogs you run into?”
“Usually. What are you getting at?”
“One more query. Do you know the names of their owners?”
“No – not unless they’re neighbors…”
“Aha! I am NOT the only one. I realized today I know the names of the dogs in my wide neighborhood, but not the names of the owners. Why do you suppose that is?” I reached over and swiped the rest of his treat.
“I don’t know, but now I have to buy another raspberry bar,” he mumbled as he headed back to the counter.
I followed him. “I am going to introduce myself to my dog’s dog-friends’ people when I meet them from now on. Well, maybe on the second meeting. Don’t want to rush things. Hey, Soupster, thanks. This one’s on me,”
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The Soupster and his friend appreciate junk.
Submitted by Rachel Ramsey
As a rule, the Soupster didn’t make a point of answering the phone before 11am, unless he happened to be awake and feel so inclined. When his land line rang shortly after 9 he caught it on the third ring. His pal Brandy’s husky voice greeted him from the other end.
“Good morning – you’re up?” Brandy chuckled. Her voice resonated with jittery excitement. The Soupster tried to respond, only to be cut off.
“As one Our Towner who lives sans social media to another, I had let you know that piles of ‘FREE Take Me’ stuff are popping up all over town.”
The Soupster cleared his throat and replied, “Finally, we’ve returned to the tried and true, rudimentary small-town way of Help-Yourself-Odds-&-Ends piles. I’m in, Brandy, and ready in 20.”
Her van was a hybrid of sorts, though not an electric kind. It had, over the decades, been reconstructed and refurbished piece by piece from salvaged parts of other vehicles, from doors to bumpers and beyond. Brandy fiercely maintained it was an ever-changing functional work of art.
“Better hop in back,” Brandy piped out the window. “Gotta mind our distancing.”
Humming Johnny Cash’s One Piece At a Time, the Soupster hopped into the van, careful not to slam the door too hard. His homemade mask boasted a blue and yellow pattern of Snoopy’s Fonz-insipred alter ego.
“I knew you were good for it!” Brandy laughed through her violet mask. “And thanks for remembering the door. She’s fragile.”
“So what stuff have you seen?” the Soupster inquired, his curiosity bubbling.
“Ribbed PVC hose, an old wooden birdhouse, bedding,” she began. “Awkward, funky-looking metal cabinets. Oh, and sawdust! All sorts of stuff, though I haven’t even begun – I wanted to partner up first,” she explained.
The Soupster said, “Well, ‘one’s man’s junk is another man’s treasure’ and I’m sure folks think thrice about what they pitch in the garbage, and what they put out for the taking.”
“I’d expect so – sometimes the junk you find is just the junk you’re looking for,” Brandy agreed.
“Maybe some of this oddball junk could be used for a project. Kids could make art or science projects with only the materials found roadside,” the Soupster mused.
“Like the cooking shows where they work magic with only the ingredients provided – yes, that’s a fine idea, Soupster, but why only kids? Adults need creative projects too.”
They pulled over near a church, where a family’s mound of garage sale storage boxes had been neatly set up. The pile yielded a Snoopy snow globe for Brandy and a brown and green, seemingly hole-less tarp for the Soupster.
“It’s a good sign.” she giggled, shaking the globe and directing her eyes at the glitter-swirled Snoopy. “Now, how about that project idea?”
“I’m sold. Let’s snag that birdhouse you mentioned and add a disco waterslide!” the Soupster chuckled. “What better way to keep Our Town’s perfectly usable junk out of a landfill?”
“Now, that is creative thinking,” Brandy concurred.
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The Soupster learns it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish fact from fiction.
Originally published May 6, 2004
“Soupster!” called Joey the Liar from the far side of the street. Joey was so named because everything he said was a lie.
“I’ve been looking all over for you,” said Joey as he settled his big frame across from the Soupster. “I was worried I would miss you.”
“Hi, Joey,” said the Soupster, who knew Joey was tough to deal with, everything he said being a lie. “What are you doing these days?”
“Same, but different,” said Joey. “Once in a while.”
“Have any plans for the weekend?”
“I thought I’d call my mother for Mother’s Day and all,” said Joey.
“She doesn’t live here?” asked the Soupster.
“Reno,” said Joey. “She’s a stage star in the casinos. She could have gone to Vegas but she wanted my younger brothers and sisters to have a more normal life, which she has found in Reno.”
“Is this true?” asked the Soupster.
“Not entirely,” said Joey. “Before Reno, she lived with me in Chicago, where she was a meat cutter at a huge plant. All her skirts had blood dripping down the front of them. It was a long time before I found out that hamburgers didn’t come out of my mother’s pockets.”
“Joey,” I really don’t have time for this,” said the Soupster.
“All right, she’s quite normal,” Joey said. “She lives in Bothell and works in a bottling plant…”
“Joey! A Bothell bottler?” said an exasperated Soupster.
“Brunette, too,” said Joey. “My mother is the spitting image of Betty Crocker and Donna Reed. She played the piano and there were always fresh flowers, even in winter. My favorite time was waking up Sunday mornings and smelling the bacon frying downstairs. Sticking my head out into the cool room from under the warm blanket. The smell of bacon.”
The Soupster almost believed him. “I almost believe you, Joey,” said the Soupster. Joey, who knew of his reputation, took no offense.
“I wouldn’t want you to do that,” he said.
“So, really,” said the Soupster. “About your mother? You wax so poetic and range so far afield that you sound like a wistful orphan. Are you an orphan?”
“Absolutely not!” said Joey the Liar.
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