It’s eight o’clock at night and I arrive at the dog park with Buster, my joint custody pooch. Frustrated because he’s been cooped up in an air conditioned house all day, my dog selects a Chihuahua for destruction and begins expending his pent up energy by trying to flip him over.
“Take him out, Buster,” I yell encouragingly.
“Don’t take that shit, Taco,” the owner of the Chihuahua says. “Get him.”
Buster sticks his head underneath Taco’s low slung body and unsuccessfully tries tossing him in the air – but to no avail. The Chihuahua’s center of gravity is too low.
Albert, Taco’s owner, snorts happily. “Taco’s like a wrestler,” he says. “Compact and low to the ground. Buster’ll never take him.”
“But he’ll knock himself out trying,” I reply. “And that’s a beautiful thing.”
“That’s true. They’ll both sleep tonight.”
Albert and I quietly watch the canine pair wrestle. As the Buster emits his tiny barks and growls, I find it hard to believe that he’s descended from wolves.
“So your book out yet?” Albert asks.
“Next week,” I reply.
“Excited, happy, and a little scared.”
“You’ll be fine.”
“Anything else going on besides the book?”
“Yeah,” I reply. “Now that you mention it, I think someone’s stealing gas out of my car.”
“I threw $30 bucks in my tank on Saturday but by Monday morning I was running on fumes.”
“You do any driving?” Albert asks.
“I think I drove 50 miles in two days,” I reply.
“Someone siphoned out your tank.”
“I think you’re right.”
“It could’ve been worse,” Albert says. “Some thieves are drilling holes into gas tanks.”
“I heard about that when I was in Texas,” I say. “Makes gas siphoning look almost benign.”
“I remember a guy siphoning gas out of my father’s car when I was a kid in the Seventies,” Albert says. “You remember that shit?”
“I remember,” I say. “You could only get five bucks worth of gas. There were long lines. You could only get gas on Tuesday if your license ended in an even number. It was crazy.”
“Oh yeah,” Albert says. “I forgot about the odd and even thing.”
“They got rid of daylight savings time too, remember?”
“Sure,’ Albert says. “We’d go to school in pitch black darkness.”
“Ah yes, the good old days.”
“So what are you going to do about your gas thief?” Albert asks.
“I was thinking about hiding in the bushes and surprising him with a Zippo lighter.”
“It’d serve the bastard right.”
“Yeah,” I reply. “But the neighbors would probably complain about the smell.”
“So I just settled for calling the cops,” I continue. “I’ll pick up a gas cap with a lock tomorrow.”
“Your gas tank doesn’t lock?”
“No,” I say. “Lots of new cars don’t have tanks that lock.”
“But they had locks for the longest time,” Albert says.
“The locks were introduced because people were stealing gas back in the Seventies,” I say. “Then, when gas was cheap again, there was little theft and the car makers decided to save money by trimming back that option.”
“I’ll bet they make locked gas tanks mandatory again.”
Taco and Buster stop their little grudge match. After they both grab a drink of water, the dogs start happily start licking each others rear ends.
“There’s nothing new, is there?” Albert asks. “Stealing gas, OPEC, high prices. It’s like the Seventies are being recycled.”
“Yep,” I reply. “First the kids started wearing bell bottoms, growing their hair long, and sporting mutton chop side burns. But when Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow started to become cool again? Oil shocks and economic collapse were sure to follow.”
“I just hope disco doesn’t come back,” Albert says.
“You and me both.”