Favorite

The Observer, Dec. 13 

We have only one book left over from our childhood. Why that particular book survived the years, we don't know. But we know it was ours, because we scrawled our name and our phone number, Mohawk 6-1562, in it.

It is a picture book, “The Contented Little Pussy Cat,” by Frances Ruth Keller, about a happy cat named Abner whose contentment confuses his troubled pals, who include a rabbit who's worried that it might rain — rain messes up her fur — and a crow who has lost a shiny feather.

We used to read the book to our daughter, hoping to prevent her from being a chip off the old block. We're a worrier, see. Content we're not.

But we couldn't pass on the cat's wisdom. The page on which he gives his most valuable advice on how to be happy was ripped out, circa 1957.

This drove both The Observer and daughter crazy.

Oh, we knew this much. Abner was never sad about what had happened yesterday or worried about what might happen tomorrow. That was good advice. But we knew there was more. We knew, in our hearts, that the missing page held the secret to life, one we couldn't ever come up with ourselves.

We moved away from picture books, and “The Contented Little Pussy Cat” went on the shelf.

But last Christmas, The Observer got the gift of a lifetime. The daughter, in a spectacularly thoughtful gesture, found the book online and ordered it. She found the exact same edition, same orange cover, an un-mauled, un-crayoned and complete “The Contented Little Pussy Cat.” We were bowled over.

We raced to the last page.

Are you on the edge of your seat?

Here it is, here's how to be happy even after you've lost your best tail feather.

“No good thing was ever learned without practicing.”

Abner was a Buddhist! The hero of a Zen tale from 1949! Work at it, Mr. Black Crow! Practice, Mrs. White Bunny.

It was an answer The Observer would never have reached on our own. We had to have the book.

***

If The Observer never gets another gift, we'll be just fine.

Then there was the Christmas, several years post-pussy-cat but still a very, very long time ago, when The Observer's mother hung a hash pipe on the Christmas tree.

Yep, as in hashish. See, it was the '60s, and The Observer's mother was down with the Hong Kong flu while teen-agers partied downstairs. One of them fashioned a hash pipe out of tinfoil, using a pencil, a pin and great dexterity.

Our mother found it on the coffee table. She hung it on the tree. What did she know?

At least, that's what we thought.

Years later, we were hanging ornaments on the tree with our child. Christmas music playing, hot chocolate, the fire in the fireplace, the whole bit.

“Hand us the hash pipe,” we said, carelessly. The child's eyes grew big. “The what?”

Oops. We forgot to think before talking.

You've got to practice that, too.

***

In these days of too-grown- up teen-agers, it's nice to know that some of them can act like kids.

Like the boy we know. “He's such a boy,” the girl we know complained. What else would he be, we wondered.

She explained. Seems that this 16-year-old is late every morning for his ride to school. So he decided to brush his teeth in the car. The girls who drive him thought that was pretty ewwww. But when he tried to spit the toothpaste out the window, it got blown back on him. Ewwwwww!

Then, the girl we know continued, he wiped the toothpaste off his face with the banana peel left over from the breakfast he'd eaten in the car. Ewwwwwwwww!

You ask us, that's how 16-year-old boys are supposed to act.

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Fritz Brantley

  • Words, Dec. 20

    Introducing an old movie on the old movie channel the other night, the host told an old story. The story is untrue, although I suppose the host, semi-old, believed it.
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • He talks, and talks, the talk

    A fellow posted an old newspaper article on his blog about a Mike Huckabee speech to a religious group in 1998. A friend faxed the article to me, then called to ask if I’d yet read it, which I had.
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • Going whole hog

    A Q&A with irreverent Arkansas-raised comedian Matt Besser
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • More »

More by Arkansas Times Staff

  • Friday's headlines and your holiday open line

    What happened at the State Board of Education and what does it mean; Legislation filed for Hutchinson's government reorganization plan; Pediatric flu-related death in Arkansas reported; Suspect arrested in unsolved 2008 North Little Rock homicide.
    • Dec 21, 2018
  • New episode of Rock the Culture: "Juice In Your Own Life"

    In this week’s episode, Charles and Antwan provide perspective and conversation on the Little Rock Mayoral Election and State Board of Education’s consideration of the anticipated request to waive the Fair Teacher Dismissal Act. In addition, Charles and Antwan discuss all things happening in the Little Rock School District with Superintendent Michael Poore.
    • Dec 11, 2018
  • End of the week headlines and your open line

    Alderman candidate misses chance to cast deciding vote for himself in runoff election; Dem-Gaz to phase out print delivery in El Dorado, Camden and Magnolia; Rapert threatens UA Fort Smith over 'Drag Queen Story Time' event; The Van seeks to raise $35,000 in three weeks for new warehouse facility in South Little Rock.
    • Dec 7, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • On Walmart and state money

    No they don't need state help. Any conservative legislator who is true to their tea party principles will crow on about crony capitalism. I look forward to deafening silence.
    • Sep 21, 2017
  • On shitholes

    The Observer is at home today in our kitty cat socks, weathering a combination sick day and snow day. Way down in Stifft Station, we live at the top of a hill that slopes away in all directions. That's good in a flood, but piss poor other than for sledding during snow and ice, especially when you only have access to a two-wheel drive car.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • The job

    The Observer and Mr. Photographer were headed across town on our way to another press conference the other day when we got to talking about The Job. Newspaperin'.
    • Mar 15, 2018

Latest in The Observer

  • Phoenix

    If you're reading a paper copy of this esteemed publication right now, you're holding something special in your hands: the last weekly print edition of the Arkansas Times, the end of an unbroken chain that goes back and back, week by week, every week, to May 1992, when the Times became what the hep cats call an "alternative newsweekly."
    • Dec 20, 2018
  • Ramblin' Jack

    The Observer, like a lot of folks, is drawn to the real places: barbecue joints and honky-tonks, seedy truck stops and greasy little diners where the waitresses and clerks still call you "Hun," used bookstores that have been there since Faulkner was still drinking mint juleps, bait shops hung with dusty-eyed bass pulled up from the deep when Eisenhower was in the White House.
    • Dec 13, 2018
  • Phillips

    After many years of faithful service, it seems as if the transmission in Black Phillip — our trusty 2006 Honda CRV — is in the process of giving up the ghost.
    • Dec 6, 2018
  • More »

Most Viewed

  • Kathy Webb wants to talk about the ‘good things’ happening in Little Rock

    As Kathy Webb enters her fifth year as Ward 3 city director her priorities include improving public safety; working to reduce poverty, hunger and homelessness; and making Little Rock a more sustainable city. One of Webb’s greatest concerns is the way in which the public image of the Little Rock School District impacts its students and teachers.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2019 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation