I watched them for five minutes.
Mrs. Crowbait looked at the horse, and as might be expected, the horse looked at her. Neither of them moved.
"Is anything wrong?" I asked.
"Oh no," she said. "I was just lunging him. We'll be done soon."
Not seeing any lunge line or whip, I foolishly asked how she was going to exercise the horse.
"Aren't you familiar with love-lunging?" she asked. "I read about it in that new book, "Love Training" by Kenny T. Walker.
His research has proven that horses respond to affection. If you kiss a horse on the nose, pet him, and talk baby talk to
him long enough, he will eventually do anything you want. There is never any need to use force. It's an exciting new concept."
Likening Mr. Walker to the northern end of southbound horse, I explained that his training method was nonsense and that his
book was predicated on the theory that there is a sucker born every minute. She was not happy with my opinion of her new-found
The incident reminded me of a time two years ago when Mrs. Fruitcake brought her cat, Peepers, in to see me.
"Something's terribly wrong, doctor," she said. "Peepers won't respond to the winkies. Winkies are supposed to be very important
to a cat, but he just ignores them. I read all about it in my new book, "Think Like Your Cat," by Clair Voyant."
It turned out that a winkie is a kind of squinty-blinky motion that you make with your eyes. Your cat is then obligated to
return the gesture. Supposedly, it represents some sort of cosmic mental link between cats and humans. In scientific terms,
this is known as crapola.
I explained that this was Clair Voyant's third book of stupid ideas, and that each was based on the premise that someone would
be dumb enough to spend $12.95 for it. Mrs. Fruitcake did not appreciate my book review. "I suppose you won't like this book
either," she said as she handed me a copy of "Treating Pet Ailments with Herbs and Spices."
"Who wrote this one?" I asked. "Colonel Sanders?"
She stormed out of the office.
These incidents were on my mind as I was having lunch with my friend, Arnie, last week. However, when I brought up the subject
of nonsense in pet care literature, he gave it to me with both barrels.
"You are a fine one to talk, Mike," he said. "Do you know how many magazine articles you've written? I'll tell you, 278. I
know because I've read every one of them. Not only that, but I keep a written list of everything worthwhile that you ever
wrote. Do you know where I keep the list? On a small card in my wallet, that's where."
"You surprise me, Arnie," I said. "I had no idea that you could read, let alone write. Or did you have your mommy make the
list for you?"
"Don't try to change the subject," he said. "Your writing makes Clair Voyant look like Einstein."
"Some people like what I write, Arnie." I told him in my own defense. "Try having your grandchildren explain the big words
to you. Maybe that will help."
"That does it," he said. "I'm calling Mrs. Spectacled."
I asked him not to, but I knew that he would. The call came in two hours later. "Mikey? Is that you Mikey?" she asked.
It was Bea Spectacled, my seventh grade English teacher. "Arnie tells me that you have been writing magazine articles. I've
heard it all now. You could never even diagram a sentence. Those people at that magazine must be crazy. And, one more thing,
I never did get your book report on "The Scarlet Letter." That's going to remain incomplete on your seventh grade record for
the rest of your life, young man."
A few minutes later, Arnie called, laughing like a hyena.
"Did she talk you into giving up writing?" he asked.
"Absolutely not." I told him. "In fact, it looks like I'll be writing more this month. Apparently, I owe her a book report."
"That's right," he said. "She told me about 'The Scarlet Letter.' "
"Well, I'm sending it in," I said. "But this time, I choose the title, like it or not, she's getting a book report on "Love-Training"
by Kenny T. Walker."