Gross But Effective

by jkatejohnston

7 February 2014

Dear Max,

We read Enzo The Call of the Wild, and he loved it. The night after we finished it, he had me re-read highlights: Buck killing Spitz; Buck, starved and beaten, refusing to go on to the rotten ice even under the blows of a club, and then John Thornton stepping in and saying, “If you strike that dog again, I’ll kill you;” Buck slaughtering the Yeehats after they killed John Thornton.

There are some strange sentences in the book, but we rode right over those and over the fact that the author is in love with the dog. It’s a manly man’s version of My Dog Tulip, a book that I remember Alan Stephens saying made him terribly uneasy the whole way through.


Teresa got a new toaster at the thrift store. (Ours died.) Enzo: “I’ll be loving our new toaster. I love new things. Like San Francisco.” And a few minutes later, “It’s just another boring old Sacramento day.”


“Only about fifty percent of earth’s species are known to man. So Bigfoot has lots of chances to be real.” Enzo is pretty reliable about measurements, but not percents. For a while everything was 20%. He thought that was the ultimate.


Getting ready for school, Enzo was styling his hair with a wet brush so that it stood straight up in the air. (It’s about three inches long.) “Old people can’t really be hot.”

Teresa agreed; I denied.

“Ahm hot.”

“I don’t want you talking like that at school,” said Teresa, “Hot means sexy, and we don’t talk that way.”

“Is it okay if I use the word irresistible?”


Enzo and I play football. Ours is strictly a running game. I hike the ball to him, he runs, I chase and tackle. After he gets a touchdown, it’s his turn to hike and my turn to run. He’s faster than I am over short distances and I take a tiny pee every time I take a step, but I’m bigger, and I can wrap him up and take him down. He has to grab my leg and drag me down. If I’m willing to leave a shoe behind I can usually break tackle.

You know how football players on TV spit with such wonderful skill, aiming it between the bars of their face masks? Enzo decided that when we play football, he will spit too. He has not mastered it. He drools and then tosses his head to send it flying, and it doesn’t fly very well. I told him not to do that and he said, “It may be gross, but it’s effective.”