I didn’t get a loaner; I got a rental. The young fellow who brought it over was a real go-getter; he’ll do well in sales, but he needs to work on his handshake. If you’re going to stick out your mitt, you need to put some steel in it; handing someone a skinful of linguini isn’t impressive. I usually sail into a handshake at full steam, because you never know when the other fellow is one of those bone-crushers. It’s a peculiar custom, isn’t it? Let us conjoin appendages, tighten our grasp and move our limbs up and down in a synchronized fashion to indicate good will.  He walked me out to the car, apologizing for the condition. It wasn’t washed and it had some snow on the hood. It was a comp vehicle for the dealership, in other words.

We did paperwork; he saw my press ID, and said he read the paper every morning. Good boy. He mentioned seeing one of our famous sports writers at an event, and related what he said, and the amused nod he received in return. I headed off the lot, and as usual for a rental activated the wipers while trying to use the turn signal. Blue fluid shot through the snow on the hood, leaving little blue tunnels; if they have dogs on Neptune, that’s what the snowbanks would look like.

Speaking of which: Jasper Dog got into full hunter-mode yesterday. He was in the backyard barking, which he rarely does unless he wants to be led in or he’s in one of those I-don’t-know-what-I-want-so-chase-me moods. I looked out the window; he was in the garden, staring intently up an evergreen, barking. He’d treed something. But the tree was the most pathetic example of the species we have – it’s pathetically thin and tall, and all the branches droop. There’s no way it could support a badger or a raccoon or a squirrel or whatever else he could have treed. But he stared and he barked, and occasionally he’d look to the house to see if I was coming.

Eventually I went out, which doubled his enthusiasm. Finally, a comrade in the hunt. I made my way back to the tree and looked up, half-expecting a fear-crazed rodent to launch itself on my face. He barked, whined, barked, whined. Don’t you see it? Can’t you smell it?

Then I saw his quarry: a piece of bread. A few days ago I threw some old bread over the fence for the woodland creatures; this had angered Jasper, who paced the perimeter, smelling bread, perfectly good bread, mostly edible bread not entirely suffused with spores, and besides, mold is a spice, in a way. Somehow one of the squirrels had dragged a piece halfway up the tree and snagged it on a branch, then left, unable to unmoor it.

“You’ve treed a slice of whole-wheat bread,” I told the dog. “Hail the great hunter.”

I left, which prompted frantic barking. No! This can’t be! You have the clever-paws! Use them! Bread is at stake!

Back to work. The dealership called a few hours later; they couldn’t find anything wrong with the car. There wasn’t any reason why water should get into the air vents.

Yet it is, I reminded him, and he agreed: he was sending it over to the body shop. He said he would call back later. I thanked him by name, which threw him – he hadn’t told me his name. But I’d seen it on his badge when I checked in the car. Terry Jones, like the Python troupe member.

You know, if you really wanted people to remember your name in business, you’d change it to Adolf. There would be an initial moment of awkwardness, but then you could say “I know, I know, but I’m named after the meat tenderizer. Mom loved that stuff” and it would be okay. And they’d never forget your name.

(Note: it was actually Adolph, after its creator, but even Time magazine called it Adolf’s in 1953. The product was marketed by a North Dakotan who made a huge pile, and created a foundation that helped renovate Carnegie Hall, among other things.  Many other things. Who knew a humble meat additive could accomplish so much? God BLESS Western civilization.)

Anyway, he called again - Terry, I mean - and the body shop can't find anything wrong. They want me to try a different car wash. Perhaps I'll choose one with a better grasp of English. This is their brochure:

Friday might be a bit light, buzz-wise; I have meetings at the office in the AM, and nothing kills blogging like meetings. Even meetings about blogging. But there's a new column up already, so have at it.

New Diner; you can get it here, on the shiny new - well, dark and new - site. Or there's an MP3 here. Another slam-bang 90-minute production! Thanks for your kind patronage this week, and I'll see you at buzz.mn!