Manipulation tactics

4 08 2009

Shaun and I were talking about manipulation last night.  It’s interesting how we all do it unconsciously and even children learn it very early – like in the first few months of life.  We have three children, three large dogs, two cats, and two diamond doves and all but one regularly manipulate us to get what they want. All but one step up their tactics or try aggression when manipulation doesn’t work.

That makes the one abnormal.  It’s really strange to see such blatant honesty lived out and she really doesn’t realize she’s atypical.  The one is our Great Dane, Nola.  All the other babies, human and fur, have manipulation tactics that range from playing coy, buttering you up, trying to get on your good side, using the sandwich effect*, and all the way up to blatant con-man tricks.  Ernie uses the whore tactic – make you think you’re the most wonderful thing in the world until he’s successfully stolen what’s on your plate and sampled your drink too.  Abbie stares and begs.  Cali pretends she’s dumb (she’s got the dumb act down PERFECT) then when you least expect it, she goes for what she wants.  Spooks has us all convinced that HE’S the master of the house and we should bring him gifts and attention.  Even the birds manipulate you – they repeat your coos and fluff up and act happy.  They know happy people give good things.  However, forget to pay attention or give them a millet spray, your ass is getting pelted with birdseed until you do it.

Nola just really is that happy.  I’ve read that about other Great Dane’s too – that they’re abnormally goofy and happy.  They want their people to be goofy and happy too… apparently so they can pretend to be lapdogs  and get hugs.  Nola LOVES hugs more than anything else.  She’ll come up, stand up on her hind legs so she can wrap her front legs around you and lay her head on your chest.  When she sees me or Shaun be grumpy, she looks so confused.  Like “what the hell?  You must need a hug.”

I’ve met other dogs who were just as happy but they were “touched in the head” as my Granny would say.  They aren’t all that bright and that’s ok too – there are plenty of dog lovers who love those big lugs.  We like dogs who solve problems and think for themselves.  This is a mixed blessing though – we end up with dogs who think up ways to get out of the fenced in yard.

But normally thinking dogs are more serious and sober.  Nola is neither serious nor sober.  Last night, Abbie was laying at my feet while I crocheted.  Actually, she layed UNDER my feet so that the soles of my feet were resting on her back.  Nola wanted me to play and I kept telling her no – the kids were in bed and to go lay down.  She laid down and then army crawled over right next to Abbie and set her head right ON TOP of my feet.  She rolled her eyes  up at me like “haha.”  Then she pounced me and wiggled her big but into my lap and tried to curl up.  Shaun tried to explain relative size to her but she just grinned at him.

* The sandwich effect is a business tactic.  If you have bad news or a message that will be responded to negatively, find two positive messages to sandwich the bad message in.

4th of July aka if this neighborhood kid doesn’t stop with that firecracker…

5 07 2009

When I was a little, little kid we lived in Pensacola between the Air Force base and the Navy base.  I’m from a mixed marriage:  Mom was active Navy and Dad was active Air Force.  They met in school while training to be meteorologists for their prospective fields of duty and married over Christmas leave 6 weeks after they met.  So Pensacola is a good a place as any because the bases are only about 70 miles apart and we lived in the middle in a little apartment complex.

Northern Florida is much like southern Georgia: it’s populated by a whole lot of stupid white people.  The whole upper half of GA is metro Atlanta but there’s a line right around the Macon area where you enter the twilight zone of the South.  We’re not just talking gun-toting conservative Christian racists – we’re talking about flatland and swamp folks whose general education level is around the 4th grade.  Around cities or military bases, it’s better, but still – there’s a reason we drive straight through the night when we go to FL (southeastern part.)  That reason is that people from the interstate are only good for two things:  buying pecans and advertising the greased pig festival so that you can sell em more pecans.

I know a lot of people who love south GA and northern FL, but hey, I’m a mountain girl.  I don’t trust flat places and if you’ve got to drive more than 30 minutes to reach the closest Wal-Mart, you’re too far out in the sticks.

Back on topic:  we lived in Pensacola and while base towns are normally more diverse, you still have asshole rednecks with guns and too much liquor.  You get those folks everywhere, they’re just called different things.  At this point, I’m about 3 years old and my brother was a baby and Mom had just sat us all down for dinner on the 4th of July.  Next thing you know, a bullet comes down through the ceiling and lands in the middle of the kitchen table.  Turned out one of our hell-raising neighbors decided to shoot off his .22 pistol in celebration of being free for another year.  This is not a good idea!

I have no idea what happens next.  This is the part of the story where my mom’s voice trails off and you get the idea that my Dad probably returned that bullet to its owner by shoving it straight up his ass.

Every July right about this time of year, we heard this story and as a kid, you start to duck when you hear firecrackers.  This is doubly true when you realize that until 2 years ago, any sort of firework or firecracker was illegal in the state of GA.  People would drive out of state to buy em, but still, it was a precious commodity and you only set em off after dark on the 4th when every one else was too.  Otherwise, setting off a firecracker was about the quickest way to have a handful of cops on your front porch and a whole lot of pissed off neighbors.

Firecrackers still startle me, but now that we live on the edge of some private hunting land, it’s not as bad.  We normally hear a couple of rifle shots a day during hunting season and during the summer, we hear the race cars down at Road Atlanta and Lanier Raceway.  Imports at Road ATL during the day, hot rods at Lanier Raceway at night.  In the spring, you hear the cows making their mating calls from a few properties away.  The mountains have a way of amplifying sounds, so we get it all, and it all becomes background noise.

We moved here exactly 9 years ago over the 4th of July weekend.  It’s a nice little starter-home community where you have an actual piece of land located in between two major interstates but it’s still out in the country enough to not be right on top of people.  It was a quiet little place in the very back of a quiet neighborhood with quiet neighbors who liked quiet things.  Now, there’s a school right across the street and a whole lot of development in every direction.  That means a whole lot of people who moved in around the same time we did either moved out of county or moved into one of the hundred McMansion subdivisions where you could reach out your window and touch your neighbor’s house.   Our direct neighbors are nice enough, but a few houses down some people with teenage boys moved in.

Teenage boys have two paths in life:  they either have something to do or they terrorize the neighborhood.  Apparently, these folks couldn’t find their kids something to do, so we have been terrorized.  Our house and cars have been egged, they’ve thrown stuff at our dogs (after coming onto OUR property where our dogs are fenced in), they ride up and down the streets at all hours on a 4 wheeler, and generally act like little ass-hats.

And now fireworks are legal in GA.

These boys are about to have a Come to Jesus moment if they don’t stop with the firecrackers.  It started about a week ago and they scare the shit out of our oldest dog.  Abbie, our German Shepherd/Lab mix was abused as a puppy with cigarettes so anything that smells like smoke scares the living shit out of her.  Shaun couldn’t even get in the bed last night because she crawled in the bed on his side and glued herself to me and just shook all night, even after she got her puppy chill pills.  Cali and Nola don’t like the firecrackers either, but they’d rather bark at the little shithead than hide behind me.

Last year, they shot off one of those little bottle rocket things and it hit one of our trees during a motherfucking drought!  At least ammo is so scarce these days, none of our local crazies decided to shoot off their guns last night.  The crazies are probably the only ones with ammo since they’re stocking up for the apocalypse, forming a militia, and are ready to defend their homeland from terrorists.

Someone forgot to tell them that their two little teenage twits are the only terrorists I’ve met in our little corner of suburbia.  I ought to just put the dogs on a leash and walk down there to remind them that their good, quiet neighbors would appreciate them not spooking the cattle.

If I get really pissed off, I’ll let the dogs poop in their yard.  What do you think?  It may just be better to invite them over for beer and then throw the cats at em when they least expect it.