Saturday, April 03, 2010

Jifa and "Machin": Not such an odd couple.

When my friend Jifa lost his two huskies, "Gold Rush" and "Ghost", to old age (16 and 17) within less than a year, he was absolutely devastated. Jifa was not just the pack leader for them; over their long lives they also became the center of his life.

Losing a dog, any animal you grew attached to, is no less painful than losing a close relative or a good friend.

Rationally, Jifa knew that he would have to get a 'new' dog in order to let the healing effect of the mourning process come to a natu
ral end. But emotionally he must have had a hard time before deciding to fill the void in his house with the presence of a pup.

Not a pup anymore but far from being a dignified adult dog... :-)
Photo by: Wolfgang Leander

However, Jifa managed to convince himself that "Gold Rush" and "Ghost" would have approved of little "Machin", a husky, not just for taking their place but rather to honor their memory and at the same time as an act of affirmation of life and its continuity.

Pure Love...
Photo: Wolfgang Leander

"Machin"? What kind of a name is that for a living creature? 'Machin' means 'thing' in colloquial French. If you don't know, or forgot, the word of something, or even a person, you'd say: "Qu'est-ce que c'est ce machin la?" (= "What is this thing over there?").

Would you name your dog "Thing"? You probably wouldn't, would you?

Well, Jifa did.

Being a pragmatic man, and not precisely a youngster anymore, Jifa must have figured that entering advanced age will surely be accompanied by a gradual loss of memory - incidentally a stage I am already, and not unhappily, in. Thus, to avoid the embarrassing situation of wanting to address his dog but having momentarily, or even permanently, forgotten his name, "Machin" would always come to his mind.

Smart, huh?

Jifa talking French to "Machin" - as Frederick the Great of Prussia once said to Voltaire: "German is a language for horses, French for sophisticated people." :-)
Photo: Wolfgang Leander

Apropos addressing "Machin" - Jifa does it in French, sometimes in English, and that are the only languages "Machin" understands. I tried to speak German to "Machin" assuming that a language that sounds like barking commands, with words such as "Schtillgeschtanden!"; "Achtung!"; "Nawirdsbalduschweinehund!", would be immediately, and naturally, assimilated by any dog.

Little did I know - "Machin" looked at me quite bewildered, as if to say: "What kind of an oegly language iss ssat?".

To get this you have to know that Jifa, and by extension "Machin", speaks an exquisitely rich English with a strong French accent. Actually, he speaks French when he speaks English - or, to be more precise: He speaks French using English words - and his hands which give his speech a distinct Mediterranean flavor.

Amputated eloquence: Jifa making a point with just one hand.
Photo: Wolfgang Leander

Talking with his hands is certainly a
n expressive rhetorical tool - the problem is that Jifa "talks" that way even when he speeds with his Chevy 5,7 l 400 HP "Lumina". Thus, if you sit next to him driving at 210 km/h and want to feel safe, just tell him politely but firmly to please shut up, and he will automatically hold on tightly to the steering wheel with both hands.

With the passage of the next years I can vividly imagine Jifa and "Machin" looking even more like each other than they do now.

"Machin" and Jifa: Definitely not an odd couple!
Photo: Wolfgang Leander

However, what is difficult to foresee at this point is who will look more like the other: Jifa like "Machin" or "Machin" like Jifa....

Only time will tell.

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