Dead Cats Don’t Bounce

As an active participant in the editorial community, I hardly ever run across interesting, complex, brow-furrowing phrases that set me apart professionally.

Every career niche seems to have its own in-crowd phrasing. When I was in advertising, phrases like “what’s the spiff?” or the acronym AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action) or “let’s deadhead that one” or “pica pole” or “targeted market” were all buzzwords that set me apart as an in-the-know professional. In fact, although now outdated due to online pagination, I still have two pica poles that are very dear to my heart and collectible relics of the rapidly-changing newspaper industry.

My husband, whose profession involves Internet technology, speaks an entire language I do not understand, but I listen patiently and appear interested even though I have no idea what he is talking about.

This is what a good and dedicated wife does, of course.

Some of his catch-phrases include: “iterative approach” and “waterfall” and “MITA” and “As-Is” or “To-Be” processes, “use case development” and — my absolute favorite — “the red ball of death,” although I suspect he may have made up the last one.

I love the phrase, “red ball of death,” and visualize a red ball on-screen, bouncing over depressing song lyrics, encouraging the participant to dissolve into a puddle of despair. I am trying to figure out where to sprinkle in this delightful, morose phrase amongst the conversationally elite.

Thus far, as a humor columnist, the editorial phrases I have run across include, “query process” (the process whereby a relatively unknown columnist is repeatedly turned down by editors in various publications across the country) and “first right of publication” and “author bio” and various, rather innocuous, everyone-knows-what-it-means phrases. These are uninteresting and stodgy, actually.

Recently, in a random Internet search, I ran across the fascinating phrase, “dead cat bounce.”

Time jerked to a stop for me right then and there. Fascinating visuals and metaphors screamed through my mind. Only those in the industry (I am assuming) can intelligently discuss the dead cat bounce. This would not include me, but as a writer I can claim creative license and sling it all over the place in misplaced and inappropriate connotations.

Upon further Google searching, I found this industry also features wonderful phrases such as: “riding the bear towards the bull,” “surviving bear country,” “dawn raid,” “triple witching,” “witching hours” and “vanilla derivatives.”

The possibilities for protracted double entendre are endless.

I am speaking, of course, of the investment services industry, which for me, and apparently most of America, has always been shrouded in secrecy. Well, no wonder. The phraseology adopted by this industry sounds a bit like a wild ride through a haunted graveyard in Montana.

In my humble opinion, financial planning should be simple and easily translatable: mostly two-syllable, salt-of-the-earth words that mean savings account, retirement account and checking account. This strategy, however, is mystifying to financial analysts trying to help us invest wisely, because they have been indoctrinated in triple witching and dawn raids and bullish tendencies.

Which is why I don’t communicate very well with most of them.

After running across the various phrases described above, I have reinforced my intuitive desire to streamline my assets instead of maxing out my vanilla derivatives by double or triple witching, which, of course is impossible, because the witching hours dictate the actual witching. I have never been overly fond of witches, for the record.

I would be extremely cautious of a dawn raid; in which I may survive bear country, but not actually experience the bear market rally. At no time, now or ever, would I desire to ride the bear towards the bull; and in fact, have no desire to be in the actual presence of a bear or its progeny. Especially if it is running toward a bull.

If my stock options expire at high noon during witching hours, I may be forced to strap on my hedge funds and ride the red ball of death towards the dead cat bounce. As I understand it, should this activity transpire, I should stay calm, play dead and keep my eyes open for attractive young bulls.

If the investment business does not work out for some of the professionals that actually understand this stuff, then a whole new field awaits them as a writer.

They would have the coolest metaphors of anybody I know

Ten Pretty Darn Good Reasons Not to Own a Big Dog

Recently, my daughter visited and brought her big, energetic, German Shepherd with her. Though the dog is pedigreed and cost approximately the same as an acre of land in Wyoming, he is still a Big Dog with Big Dog needs, habits and bowel movements.

After two months of living with a Big Dog, conversations with friends that own Big Dogs, and babysitting a neighbor’s Big Dog on occasion, I have come to the following conclusions, not the least of which is that I will never own one, even if my husband threatens to cut off my hands and feet and wash my mouth out with soap. Here are ten reasons why:

1. A Big Dog is a guaranteed leg-humper when company arrives. The minute the doorbell rings, a perfectly calm, sane Big Dog will immediately leap upon your leg. I am guessing he wants to prove his Big Dog Alpha-ness to the new humans that are invading his territory, and this is his way of communicating: “See? I can completely dominate this leg. I will dominate your spouse’s too, and all of your children’s legs as well, if you  bring them in. If you stay in my house, I will at varying intervals,  continue to hump your leg the entire evening.”

2. A Big Dog consumes 1-1/2 – ton bags of food that cost $135 apiece. They can be finicky eaters, and if they do not like the increasingly expensive dog food that is bought to encourage them to eat, it will sit in the bowl and eventually get stale and be thrown out to be replaced with more of the expensive dog food that they do not like. This could waste approximately $3500 per year. While they ignore their expensive food, they are waiting anxiously by the table at meal time to pick up whatever scraps end up on the floor. I suppose the cost of the dog food could be mitigated somewhat by the fact that they are something of a floor cleaner.

3. A Big Dog has really big, scary teeth. Several opportunities arose for me to throw things and pull things with my daughter’s Big Dog during their visit. The Big Dog liked to play ‘tug-a-rope’ and when his teeth missed the rope they sank into, well, me. Then I tried to throw a ball, which my daughter told me that her Big Dog liked. After I threw the ball, the Big Dog brought the ball approximately three feet from me, and, as if taunting me, ran away whenever I got within a foot of him. When I finally apprehended him and snagged his collar, the ball was a wet, soggy, mess. To make matters worse, because the Big Dog would not readily relinquish the prize in his mouth, I had to pull the wet, soggy ball out of a mouth full of big, scary teeth. This cycle continued throughout the duration of play. Sound like fun? No.

4. A Big Dog barks longer and more loudly than other dogs. Since we have a couple of knee-biter dogs adjoining our fenced back yard, my daughter’s Big Dog engaged in a barking competition with them. The more they yapped, the louder and longer he barked. The more we yelled at him to stop, the more he barked. And so on.

Well, not a dog, but still…you get the idea, right?

5. Their poop is three times as big as other dogs, and is indescribably gross to pick up even if I have a plastic bag on my hand. Who cares? It is still hot and steamy and looks like turd sausages.

Trust me, this kitty is terrified. Completely terrified.

6. A Big Dog scares any cat within spitting distance into various fits of hysteria which include, among other things, shredding furniture or disappearing for days at a time, which results in later discoveries of kitty poop in closets or under beds. It does not matter how long the Big Dog is around, a cat does not like a Big Dog (at least my two don’t) and will fight tooth and nail to escape it. This bemuses the Big Dog, causing him to bark loudly and long. Again.

7. A Big Dog smells really, really bad. I understand the dog has been bathed just last week. I understand that the dog has to go outside, even in the rain, to go potty. I get it. But the smell makes me nauseous and bathing a Big Dog is a good thing, really, it is – but it merely delays the inevitable recurrence of dog-stench.

Now THAT…is a huge tongue!

8. A Big Dog has a huge tongue which explores many things and pants mercilessly and often. This tongue, even though Big Dog owners love to tell me that dog mouths are oh-so-much-cleaner than human mouths; drips big, fat drops of doggie saliva all over my off-white rug. This tongue also licks the kitty poop in the cat box and doggie privates and little dead critters in my yard.

9. A Big Dog is destined for monthly vet bills that equal a mortgage payment. It’s a fact that Big Dogs have big, unwieldy skeletons and a propensity for kidney stones, hip dysplasia, and all manner of doggie ailments. Since most people do not have pet insurance, the bills can be outrageous. I would have a hard time loving a Big Dog all the way to bankruptcy.

10. And finally, last but certainly not least, a Big Dog must be babysat if one wishes to take a trip, even for a few days. If one cannot afford a kennel (which is really, really expensive) one must arrange for unsuspecting, but generous, friends to attend the dog not one, not two, not three, but FOUR TIMES A DAY. Really? Yep. Plus feed and water them and pick up the indescribably gross poop in the bag and listen to them bark and perhaps, while the unsuspecting friends are walking them (out of the pure goodness of their hearts) the dog, weighing roughly 200 pounds, yanks on the leash, pulls them over because he outweighs them by fifty pounds, and, as a result, they BREAK BOTH LEGS. Can you imagine the lawsuit? That you would keep these friends? That you would even HAVE any friends? Something to think about.

Muscles like this will ensure you do not get pulled over and break both legs.

So, in conclusion – if you don’t mind loud barking, huge, drippy tongue action; poop the size of Louisiana, and do not have a sensitive nose –you are a perfect candidate for the unique joys of Big Dog ownership. Just make sure you have several kind,generous, unsuspecting – and preferably heavy – friends that live close by if you want to get away for a few days; bulk up to roughly Schwartzenegger-esque muscle mass,and make sure you do not own – or ever want to own – a cat.

And, oh yes! Don’t forget to keep those plastic bags handy! The extra-big ones.