Words of wisdom

Our annual nod to local heroes gives me an excuse to laud praise upon my late dad, who, as time passes since his death (three years ago this month), I’ve come to realize was an amazingly smart man. What follows is some of the wisdom he shared with me and my goofy brother, Jim.

You can tell what a guy’s car is going to look like by the way he takes care of his bike. That statement was probably issued sometime around 1966. I was 10, my brother was 15. We’d get brand new bikes and immediately strip off the fenders and the chain guards and then turn the handlebars upside down. I did it because my older brother did it. He did it because he was an idiot. And sure enough, the cars we’ve each owned since becoming adults have ended up looking (and running) like junk.

When a guy gets a new car, every time he parks it and walks away, at least for the first two weeks or so, he just can’t help but stop, turn around and take a look back at that new car. That is absolutely true. I’ve witnessed it many times and done myself with each of the 27 cars and trucks I’ve owned. I usually stop doing this mid-walk pirouette as soon as my new car starts looking like a piece of junk, which happens after I’ve figured out which bolts attach the fenders to the body of the car.

When two people have to move something heavy, like say a chest of drawers, the dumber one inevitably picks up the end that will force him or her to walk backwards. Dad would point this out as you were straining and stumbling in reverse and about to crack your elbow and the back of your head against the wall right next to the doorway you just missed.

When I die, don’t feel bad. Easier said than done, of course. Dad said this as we were going through the worldly possessions of his dad, who’d died about a week earlier. He was holding a red plastic radio. “I remember when Abe bought this. (For some reason we called our grandfather by his first name.) I gave him a hard time and told him he had wasted his money. Now I feel bad about doing that.” And with six simple words, he released me from a future load of guilt. Thanks, Dad.

Last week this paper reported the arrest of John Gillander, local right-wing political, uh, strategist, on charges of battery and resisting arrest. John says he was angry because the man he allegedly attacked, off-duty Fish & Game Warden Will Bishop, was throwing rocks at Gillander’s dogs. Bishop denied it and said one of the dogs was threatening him and his three grandchildren as they walked a path near Horseshoe Lake in Bidwell Park. This week I got the following e-mail attesting to the character of the dogs in question: “I have known John Gillander’s dogs for some time. The little pooch is Sonja and I just can’t imagine her standing in the trail barking at anyone, unless perhaps they were throwing rocks at her. Meho, the boxer, is a young guy that behaves well. It’s my guess the off-duty DFG guy is in the wrong on this one. I don’t agree with John’s politics but this situation has a bit of political stench to it.” Seems like everything Gillander gets himself involved in has a bit of political stench to it. But before you judge, remember that Abe Lincoln once said that he considered a man’s character by the way the man treats his dog.

Then again, returning to my dad’s wisdom: Owning a dog is like being the parent of a mentally retarded child. You have to take responsibility for where the dog goes and what the dog does. Otherwise, that dog’s going to find trouble and drag you into it.

Chico Natural Foods needs candidates for its board of directors, which meets twice a month and is responsible for planning, decision making and oversight of the store. To be on the board, you must be a member of the co-op in good standing, but not closely related to a present board member. Applications can be picked up at Chico Natural Foods, 818 Main St., and must be returned by Nov. 30.

Happy Thanksgiving.