The beagle, a cuttlefish and a math teacher

By Jimmy Alford | Published Saturday, September 22, 2012

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If anybody out there feels the need to follow my columns regularly from now on, they’ll become familiar with my fiancee, math teacher Nicole and our beagle, Chloe, with her many aliases – like needle-feet, crazy-pants and a couple that can’t be printed.

Jimmy Alford

We don’t really talk politics. Nicole doesn’t care about the subject much, since all she knows is the daily struggle with mandates that trickle down from the ivory tower in Austin into the diluted soup called the public education system. I can be passionate about politics, but mostly it’s just me bemoaning the ineffectual state of our government and how I long for a day that I read about a promising candidate.

If Chloe could vote, it would be for whomever held the largest, meatiest treat.

Chloe would be a fickle voter, though. Nicole has taken to teaching her cute tricks for treats. This is a beagle bred for hunting, roughing it in the great outdoors and living for the thrill of the chase – you know, real manly-type stuff (insert obligatory grunting and such). Because of this, I can’t help but find it completely fascinating and hilarious to watch the process.

It goes something like this:


Blank stare.

“Up,” with treat.

Intense stare at treat, with lip curl.


Finally, Chloe sits up like a weasel on steroids. She does this one time and one time only, and the rest of the night Nicole continues repeating simple-frustrated commands. Chloe is getting better, though, which is more than I can say for myself. Often Nicole barks short, simple commands at me, and I have yet to be trained.

The other night I was in a vegetative state, staring blankly at the TV, pretty sure “The Big Bang Theory” was on, when Nicole politely yelled from the adjacent room that I had not taken out the trash, as I had promised. Still in a vegetative state, I unconsciously tried to blend into my surroundings and become unseen, much like a cuttlefish hiding from predators. It didn’t work. I was found instantly. Pretty sure my species would have been eaten into extinction.

My non-action brought severe consequences – I had to get up. I know, I know, as horrible as it may sound, I was forced to move from my nesting area on the couch. And, like Chloe, I will do this trick once and only once, but unlike with Chloe, Nicole has figured out all my peccadilloes. Before I reach the garbage, I am inundated with a slew of other requests, like walk the dog … and … and … well, walk the dog. This cuttlefish is certainly getting his exercise for the night.

After depositing the trash, I start my marathon walk with the beagle who has never met a smell that shouldn’t be sniffed and sniffed repeatedly at great length. In this time, I often wander through the dense underbrush of my own mind, while avoiding the dense underbrush of the neighborhood. I can only imagine what passersby must think as they see this shabbily dressed fat guy, mumbling to himself and pulling on a leash that seems to be tied around a bush.

It was on this walk that I came to a realization that my little family unit could be seen as metaphor for the current state of American politics.

The math teacher, the cuttlefish and the beagle – all trying to live in harmony while constantly getting in each other’s way. The math teacher works hard to make things happen. The cuttlefish is just trying to get by without being noticed.

The beagle? She’s just looking for the best treats, but often ends up chasing rabbits.

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