Ask Avigail – Looking Back in Houndsight

I was brought to the Wisest Tribal Elder, to see what he could make out of my current situation.

I can’t see anything…not even the dried, drool stains of my pet camel, on my straw pallet. Note to myself: got to do something about Cecil’s snoring problem and my sleep apnea…can feedbag be used as a night muzzle?  So, as I recounted, I woke up this morning, and rubbed my eyes. The gourd of water that lay on my roughly-hewn mat seemed blurry. It was only when I reached for it, and it spilled all over me in the process, did I realize that I had to take some drastic, immediate action. Hysterical screaming seemed to fit the bill.

First, I had to cancel my coveted appointment with Sergio, the Assyrian hirsute remover. Without honey gathered from bees, his sword, shaped like a scythe, grazed my eyebrows with a lute player’s touch; no renegade hair dared to peer out from its root, at least till the next lunar cycle!!! But, I was still confined to bed, until a passing shepherd, or distant neighbor, heard my calls for help.

Next, I had to somehow contact Avigail, the sagacious advice giver. I know she can help me; my problem is how do I get to her? I will stagger to the tent opening where the morning light pours forth. I will project from my diaphragm, I will scream for a kindly neighbor to help me. Note to myself: lucky I chose the diaphragm; though the IUD was “off the rack”, it made my voice sound tinny…

A passing nomad, with a passing donkey, brought me to The Wisest Tribal Elder. The WTE asks me to call him Sam Plotchnik, or just Sam, as his friends call him. “Avigail referred me, “I said. “For what?” he answered. From his answer, it occurs to me that there is something un-Mensa-like about him. But, Avigail assures me that, if anyone can help, it is he. This man is brilliant, mystical and does not charge by the shadow of the sundial, like most oracles.

I wildly flailed my arms in front of his nebulous face. “I woke up and I was blind. I can only make out vague images”

Sam got up from his sitting position and made a circle around me.  When I felt him behind me, he took two large objects and smashed them together, creating such a loud, frightening sound, I would have confessed my favorite plague, just to stop the deafening echo.

“Why did you do that, Sam?”

“Just checking if your hearing is good.”

I could have told you that; now, my own eardrums are still reverberating to its own Salute to Haitian Voodoo Drums Festival. In their primal vibrations, they are demanding a virgin Q-tip to go for the wax.

Sam put me through a few tests, and made me put my seal on some assurance forms:  HAVE FAITH. SIGHT IS OVER-RATED.  COMON, WOULD YOU RATHER EAT MEAT, OR SEE IT?  THERE’S A LIGHT AT THE END OF EVERY SAND DUNE; IT’S THE AMALAKITES…RUN!

Sam confesses that he does not know the cause of the sudden blindness; nor does he have a cure, but wait. Then, he reveals his genius to me. It is in the back of his inner sanctum, with a maze of well-organized shmutz,* which only he is privy to, not unlike a Masonic handshake. It is obvious that Sam is not comfortable in a home that could be described as “aesthetically pristine.” He is a guy that likes to know where every residue breadcrumb and hair ball is accounted for. He knows not from labeled containers, or its compulsive qualities.  Avigail tells me that Sam hails from Messypotamia, and sojourned here during its War of Clutter.

Sam leaves me alone to find something in his private piles. Alas, he makes a triumphant noise, and puts something in my arms.  I feel it, as he explains to me what it is.

“It is a canine companion, of sorts, designed to help someone just like you!!!”

I notice, to my delight, that the “dog” seems to make playful yelps and squirms in my arms. Its fur has a weird texture, I cannot place it; and yet, it seems familiar. For some unexplained reason, I keep thinking of my Aunt Bernice nibbling on some partially thawed veggie hotdogs she keeps in the freezer when she wants an organic snack….

“You are probably wondering, what is this dog made of?” It has organic fur- sun-hardened green lentils!

Sam’s own magical prayers and in the can tations make this dog responsive to your every thought, need and emotion. For instance, market day at the Shuk* can be a nightmare for a person like you, compromised of sight. With this fauxdawg, no further from you than a shadow, he can navigate you through rowdy crowds, rude vendors looking to take advantage of your handicap…just about everything.

For example, what if a wheat vendor tries to charge you three times more, for a half a kilo of his stalks; the dog will suddenly transform into a snarling, menacing German shepherd.  He will wrap his paws around the vendor’s throat, and ask him to please repeat the price, in a cordial, Standard English accent-or any language, for that matter. He can even sign; albeit, he needs to sit on his haunches for balance.

You will not have to take him out, or walk him in freak sandstorms. He does not eat, he does not poo, he does not drink, smoke, and say the word, “just a minute,” the pivotal word in his lexicon is YOU. He lives to love and protect you. You might ask, can he really feel my emotions? Just to make YOU feel less conspicuous, he would don a pair of sunglasses, so nobody would stare at YOU. However, they will stare at you because I will give you, and the dog, the only pair of sunglasses ever invented. I will also give you a songbook entitled THE BEST OF STEVIE WONDER, so knock yourselves out. I don’t want you to get a derm abrasion on what little retina strength you have, my dear. So, what are you going to call your new pet?”

“Wait a minute. If it is not made of flesh and bones, but more like Aunt Bernice’s green lentil, fat-free latkes, how long is its lifespan? Or, shelf-life?”

“It will live as long as you want it to, and make sure you never want, as long as it will live…” Sam said.

I feel my lower lip tremble and tears stream down my cheeks; I feel the same wet snout and hear the tiny whelping cries of my new, inseparable companion.

“I am trying to find the perfect name that goes with him….let’s see….he is made from lentil beans…BEANO?  Maybe…SAM? Maybe….ROLLO? Hmmmm….I don’t know why, but I think the name GOLEM* fits him best.”

“Just saying…you can add a middle name, for no extra price…”

“Thanks Sam. We’ll stick with Golem….do you like your name, Golem?”

The organic dog communicates:

“BEANO is a reference to my green lentil been origins, which cause copious bouts of flatulence; so, no thank you. SAM, that is a name quite popular with the canine crowd; it would be an honor to have such a name, since it is also the name of my benefactor. ROLLO? It sounds a bit foreign, and I must confess, I am a trifle xenophobic. GOLEM. It has an earthy vibe to it. GOLEM. GO is an active, forward motion, very positive. I seem to emotionally respond best to this name. And GOLEM it shall be. Come, take Sam’s spare stick and I will lead you home.”

Sam put down three mugs of hot tea and some freshly baked chocolate Danish. GOLEM watched his blind master’s meticulous eating manners and mimicked them-carefully, not to slurp his tea, or wolf down his pastry, like some wild animal. He lightly wiped his snout, with the napkin Sam provided. The dog embraced Sam in an emotional hug and wag, before going. Sam choked back a few tears, himself – the pride of ownership. He opened his tent flap and escorted them out, with their new sun reflectors, into the harsh high-noon light.

“Don’t forget to tip your waiter and your oracle” Sam calls, his words losing their clarity in the vortex of the hamsin*.


*shmutz- meaning sloppy, dirty, or badly in need of an ironing

*shuk- open market place that sells everything from livestock to everyday objects, fresh produce, etc.

*Golem- a Medieval, Jewish legend of a: a dead man brought back to life to protect the Jews, during a period of persecution; b: an inanimate object created from the soil by magic incantations and prayers to follow the will of its human creator, during times of Jewish persecution.

*BEANO- an over the counter prescription for those that suffer from gas and bloating.

*hamsin- a spontaneous, violent sandstorm

About the Author
Shashi Ishai is a former stand-up/cartoonist from Teaneck, N.J. She resides in Netanya with her husband, Yacov; daughter, Zehava; son Zaki and dog, Stanley .Shashi is the author of ASK AVIGAIL: Advice from a Biblical Era Sagette, available on Amazon.