It started with the glassy-eyed couple at the lake. They had a dog too. They sounded like they used drugs or lived in Northern California, you could tell by the way they talked.
The guy said you can teach a dog around 100 words, they’ve done studies on it. He gave me a URL where you pay $19 and get an IQ assessment done on your dog. They’d done it and were surprised how smart Kenny was, they were proud. The woman smiled and agreed.
I said that sounds like one of those ideas after a night of heavy drinking and knee-slapping: an IQ assessment for dogs. Wouldn’t that be a hoax? And because you paid $19, you have to tell someone else to do it so you don’t feel dumb yourself. And this perpetuates into a viral Internet scheme.
Once you start believing this kind of thing it’s easy to believe anything. That you can change your tolerance for the cold by wearing less clothes or taking all-cold showers. That if you don’t have anything to write about other than taking a cold shower, take a cold shower. That human sounds of pain and ecstasy are about the same. That drinking too much coffee will give you the shakes and alcoholics have to drink so they can stop shaking. That shaking actually warms the body which is why we shiver and you can raise the internal temperature of your tent by 10 degrees with just a small candle.
That your voice is truly unique but can sound staticky if you’re on the wrong station. That Neil Young can sing about anything and it will sound good because it’s Neil Young and although it’s not what many would call a “good voice,” it’s his voice.
That habits are defined as something we do without thinking, like checking your phone for new messages even when you don’t have any because you just checked.
That you need to know how the story is going to end before you can start telling it.
That men’s breasts really do sag like a woman’s and marijuana can make that worse.
That there are people who laugh as a reaction to pain when they don’t know what else to do or say. That your face looks different in the mirror than it does when other people look at you. That no one has ever gone mad from writing but might from not writing if that’s what they really need to do, which is true of anything.
That dogs have souls like people but they’re not people’s souls, they’re dog souls and there’s no difference between human souls and dog souls. And what goes into a soul? And is it possible there are people without them, who consume other people’s souls because they themselves are empty? And that you can tell this by looking into their eyes.
That there are two types of people, who either take or give. And that people can toggle between “take” and “give” depending on their motive and the time of day.
That you can get better at anything through practice and good habits are defined as things you do without thinking that actually add up to something, unlike masturbation or phone-checking.
That tinnitus will abate if you stop exposing yourself to sustained noise. That hearing loss from firing guns unprotected will affect the opposite ear of the hand holding the weapon.
That it’s true you can dream about something before it happens because time is a ruse.
That people can turn into dogs and vice versa and that magic is real if you believe in it, which is true of anything.
That we are all truly connected and Wi-Fi just makes it faster.
That just a few people can make all the difference in your life. That if people don’t show up at your funeral it doesn’t mean you weren’t important to them, maybe they didn’t get the announcement.
That you can smell the rain before it comes and fool yourself to believe the sound of traffic is the seashore.
That things happen for a reason even when you don’t like what happened. That we have control over our lives even when it seems we don’t. That control is an illusion and being “controlling” is never good. That if no one is controlling a project, the project is out of control. That life ends when you die.
That you can make money as a social media influencer. That people Follow you because they’re interested in getting to know you. That the phrase “making a living” means what you do to get paid. That definitions imply this is everything a word is not, by defining what it is. That fences work to keep things in and keep things out. That we are all here for a reason and may never know what.
That a dog’s mouth is cleaner than you think.
That some jeans really do make your ass look better.
That it’s possible to make things happen you might call divine just by believing in them wholly.
That the gifted and the mad are only a half click away. That our pain is universal because we are all connected and no one knows how to deliver us other than God.
That if someone believes they can fire laser beams from their fingers by concentrating really hard, stay away from them.