Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Meet Doxology

We have had a newt for longer than I'd care to remember - this newt has fought with and eaten and bitten and starved away pretty much every living thing we've ever put in the same container as it. It has survived starvation itself - and even living in pure septic for about a month and a half. My wife wouldn't clean the tank no matter what I said or did to shame her into doing it. She said she didn't know that newts lived so long - and didn't really want it anymore.

Frankly, it had a stupid name - Kris Draper (which is a fine name for a man - unless that man has to play his entire career for the "New Jersey Devils of the Western Conference"). Anyhow, she basically doesn't want it anymore - and couldn't even give it away. I guess she hoped that the sewage and rot in the tank would ... somehow get it off her hands.

She just said (just now!), "Did you know it's just a $2 newt from Walmart?" - high praise indeed for a member of the household!

Well - I'd had enough. Not long ago I cleaned the tank and liberated the newt from its oppressor. Like a dissident fleeing from the USSR - he has taken a new name, one befitting a new life with a new caretaker.

Meet "Doxology"

The name derives from John Steinbeck's character Samuel Hamilton from East of Eden. Hamilton's horse is named "Doxology" which is a fine name. So I liberated Dox and have been caring for him myself - even though I haven't technically purchased any food for him yet. He's eating and happy in his clean tank, thanks to me. Only a few evenings ago the book I'm reading actually addressed Doxology - the reason he received such a name. It actually became a redeeming moment (later on) in the protagonist's life, Adam Trask.

Here is that passage - after reading it I knew that this was the most fitting name for my newt - and I'm proud to give him a fine name such as Dox.

- - - -

Doxology stood patiently in the stall, head down, his milky eyes staring at the straw under his feet.
"You've had that horse forever," Adam said.
"He's thirty-three," said Samuel. "His teeth are worn off. I have to feed him warm mash with my fingers. And he has bad dreams. He shivers and cries sometimes in his sleep."
"He's about as ugly as crow bait as I ever saw," Adam said.
"I know it. I think that's why I picked him when he was a colt. Do you know I paid two dollars for him thirty-three years ago? Everything was wrong with him, hoofs like flapjacks, a hock so thick and short and straight there seems no joint at all. He's hammerheaded and swaybacked. He has a pinched chest and a big behind. He has an iron mouth and he still fights the crupper. With a saddle he feels as though you were riding a sled over a gravel pit. He can't trot and he stumbles over his feet when he walks. I have never in thirty-three years found one good thing about him. He even has an ugly disposition. He is selfish and quarrelsome and he will surely take a kick at me. When I feed him mash he tries to bite my hand. And I love him."
Lee said, "And you named him 'Doxology.'"
"Surely," said Samuel, "so ill endowed a creature deserved, I thought, one grand possession. He hasn't very long now."
Adam said, "Maybe you should put him out of his misery."
"What misery?" Samuel demanded. "He's one of the few happy and consistent beings I've ever met."
"He must have aches and pains."
"Well, he doesn't think so. Doxology still thinks he's one hell of a horse. Would you shoot him, Adam?"
"Yes, I think I would. Yes, I would."
"You'd take the responsibility?"
"Yes, I think I would. He's thirty-three. His lifespan is long over."
Lee had set his lantern on the ground. Samuel squatted beside it and instinctively stretched his hands for warmth to the butterfly of yellow light.
"I've been bothered by something, Adam," he said.
"What is that?"
"You would really shoot my horse because death might be more comfortable?"
"Well, I meant -"
Samuel said quickly, "Do you like your life, Adam?"
"Of course not."

- Steinbeck.

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