With all eyes on Rome this week, and this being the Ides of March, my always relevant mom and dad decided to throw a Roman-themed Pope Party. Sparing no expense, they featured take-out pizza from Caesar’s and cheap Italian wine. The new Pope, who is apparently into the whole austerity thing, would undoubtedly approve. I understand that he eschewed the trappings of his office as cardinal and now as Pope in favor of more modest and humble attire, transportation, food and a general approach to life. He fashions himself a man of the common folk. He enjoys soccer, he tangos like a native Argentinian (so what’s new Buenos Aires?), likes cooking his own simple meals, and is even fond of watching old movies. He took the name Francis, ostensibly after St. Francis of Assisi, who was the patron saint of animals, and probably the first vegan. But insiders confide that he actually named himself after one of his favorite 50’s movie stars, Francis The Talking Mule (a gesture that would probably amuse St. Francis).
But back to the party. Mom and Dad invited a few friends over, and set out all the food. One couple brought their two canine companions, Casca and Brutus. Casca is a small cocker spaniel, and Brutus – a long-time friend of mine- is a burly bulldog. While all the humans were watching the U.S. lose to the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, I decided the time was right for the buffet to lose a few items. I’m not big on pizza, but I love the sides, particularly the bread sticks which are to die for. So, I quietly lifted a few of them from the table, as Casca and Brutus looked on.
For no apparent reason, Casca decided to bark at my audacity. But, with the excitement of the baseball game, nobody heard her feeble cocker croaking, and I thought I was home free. But then, to my amazement, my old friend Brutus betrayed me and joined Casca in alerting the humans to my thievery. Brutus had a tremendously strong bark. Mom and Dad quickly turned and saw their beloved, noble Aussie with no fewer than five bread sticks hanging from his guiltily smiling mouth.
As I was led unceremoniously on the walk of shame to my dog kennel, I looked back at my former friend and couldn’t help but wax Shakespearian as I muttered, “Et tu, Brute?” Later, while lying on my toga and licking my wounded pride, I recalled the warning of a gypsy-esque Chow Chow I had met in the park earlier that day: “Beware the sides of March!”
I will be appealing to Pope Francis the Talking Mule fan to absolve me. While he’s at it, he could do a lot worse than to put me on a fast-track to sainthood. St. Flapjack. Patron saint to all who have been betrayed for following the call of the breadstick.