My dog J. is a superhero. His power is "the arse". As in, he arses people. He's quite tall and long. And, as the vet said, it seems to take quite a long time for the signals from his brain to reach his butt. The result, a kind of Marilyn Monroe-like sway when he walks. He has learned to use this to his advantage. We call it the arse. When J. wants your attention, when he wants to corner you, when he wants to knock you down so he can eat the peanut butter sandwich in your hand, you'll get the arse. He'll pretend to be walking towards some much more interesting beyond you, and then, at the last minute, he'll swing his arse in. Whap. You've been arsed. He has a big arse, so it's quite a potent tool at his disposal.
There's a play by Euripides called the Medea. Medea is a kind of superhero with magical or witch-like powers. Her husband decides to leave her and her two children to marry a princess (and, he tells her, to thereby be better able to care for her). Medea doesn't buy it. She's one sharp cookie. So she kills the husband's new love interest and her father, the king. Then, just to make sure she has exacted sufficient revenge she kills her husband's two children. They are Medea's children as well. Medea is one cold cookie. If the play were written by ant other Greek poet, Medea would then come out of the fog of her passion, see what she has done, and kill herself, or poke her eyes out with a stick, or go into a self-imposed exile, or all of the above. Instead, Euripides sends the chariot of the Sun God, Helios, to Medea and she flies off into the sky giving her husband the finger. Euripides doesn't apologize for Medea. He doesn't show her repentant. It's a very strange and disturbing play. Is Medea just evil? Or is Euripides point that some elements of nature, and thus human nature, cannot be justly rationalized and moderated? These things have to be recognized, just as we recognized the power of the sun. And while we might where sunblock and sunglasses, it would be really stupid to stare at the sun at noon. It's just really stupid to scorn Medea.
J. is no Medea. But he has knocked birds out of the sky. And when he wants to chase a bus, you should be prepared to go under its wheel with him. But his real power is the arse. And as unsightly and embarrassing as it is, its the kind of thing we have to live with. Or else we risk the wrath of his other weapon. It is silent but deadly.
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