When I was growing up my brother Mark and I hounded our parents for a dog. This may seem ironic now, since I am not a pet person. I am a huge “animal” person. But there is some irony because I am a NatGeo and Animal Planet junkie. Although, when my kids were small we had animals wandering around.
There is something about kids and animals that can form an important bond. My brother and I pushed for a collie. And I know it was no more complicated than we thought Lassie was cool. There was Lassie rescuing coal miners one week, pulling sunken ships to shore the next week. At WTIT Tape Radio we did a spoof once on Lassie. In our version, Lassie went back in time and rescued everyone from the Titanic. We were all surprised when Leonardo went down with the ship in the 90’s remake. Where the fuck was Lassie when you needed him?
Our collie’s name was Blaze. He could not rescue a doll if my sister threw one down the stairs. I am not trying to insult the dog, but the facts are the facts. Blaze was not a bright dog. And trust me, it won’t matter to Blaze. Partly because Blaze has been dead, say, thirty years or so, but mostly because Blaze could not read anyway. Blaze was our family pet collie. Talking about Blaze really doesn’t mean much to me. He was a very hyper dog, who jumped all over everybody. So, I don’t have any cute family stories about Blaze. He just was there. Which is probably why I never felt much about pets.
When my fellow WTIT DJs came over to record they’d always comment on the way downstairs to the WTIT Studio in the rec room how they got mauled. I’d always say, “You didn’t pet him did you?” A redundant question since Blaze wouldn’t stay around for a petting anyway, but they’d answer “No.” I’d respond, “Good. We only pet him on his birthday. It’s not today, so you did not confuse him.”
Because of this, I always remembered that Blaze was born on February 7th. Years later, long after Blaze had passed, I started calling my family members to wish them a “Happy Blaze’s Birthday”. Somehow the dynamic wound up changing. It became a contest to see whom called whom first to honor “the holiday”. My brother Mark usually wins now. I can live with that. But when this damn holiday falls on a work day, his midnight call can be slightly jolting.
Once a member of my family said, “We’ve been doing this so long I cannot remember what started it.” I’d explain, and they’d say, “I don’t remember it that way.” Well, of course not. No one else in the family was a WTIT DJ. Why I care about credit for what was once a very funny bit, but now is very old and very tired, is anybody’s guess. I suppose it is because it started as MY old and soon-to-be tired joke. And I’ve got tapes to prove it. Anyhow, how about you, my friend? Did you have a good “Blaze’s Birthday”? Good. But next year, please send me a card, damn it. It is a very important day.