Sunday, August 9, 2009

I Have a Dog and His Name is Rags

Come back with me to Kindergarten....but first...look at that word. Kindergarten.


What a weird fucking word that is. Kindergarten.

Anyway....So back in Kindergarten and all through grade school, you probably remember having to memorize those stupid songs so that you could sing them to your parents at the "school concerts" during Christmas and Spring. I feel so sorry for my parents having to go to those. I know they say they were proud of me and were happy to see how much I accomplished but Goddamnit. A bunch of high pitched kids that don't know how to sing....all singing at one time in unison. It had to be awful. My mom, for whatever reason, videotaped all of them, as if we were ever going to watch them again.
I will admit...I often will visit home and put in some old home videos. I think they're hilarious and entertaining and kind of informational. But those old "school concert" videos? No. I've never re-watched them because they have to be excruciating. At no point in my life do I think I will ever have the desire or the need to re-experience any of that.

But this almost has nothing to do with what I'm trying to say.

In Kindergarten, in preparation for one of these concerts, my teacher, Mrs. Rentfro, had a little song for us to memorize. And that song was "My Dog Rags." Now being as this was Kindergarten, I don't have a perfect recollection of all of this but I'll do my best to give you the play by play.

Now from what I can remember, my teacher had made up this song herself. (I don't believe that's true anymore, but at the time up until a week ago I did.) I remember her coming to us one day and talking to us about this wonderful song that we were going to be singing about a dog named Rags. She told us the lyrics as so:

I have a dog, his name is Rags
He eats so much that his belly sags
His ears flip flop and his tail wig wags

And then she stopped. She asked us, thinking for some reason that we as Kindergartens had the ability to be creative, what that last rhyme could be. Something that rhymes with wig wag.
I remembrer thinking really hard about it and coming up with nothing. And then the girl next to me raised her hand. Brooke Burgener.

I want to take a second and describe my relationship with Brooke Burgener in Kindergarten. Not that it will contribute anything at all to the story, but just because I feel like sharing it while it's in my mind.

Mine and Brooke's relationship began with a pair of pink scissors. We both had a pair. I did not come to Kindergarten equipped with scissors. Mrs. Rentfro however was prepared for this and had extras to give out. I got the last of them and they happened to be pink. Whatever. I had pink scissors.
Anyway, I was a 5 years old boy. I colored outside the lines, I got dirty at recess, I pretended to sleep at nap time. Whatever. I didn't give a fuck. So when it came to projects that involved paper, glue, and scissors, I didn't wait for glue to dry. I don't have time for that. I cut right the fuck through it, glue and all. Eventually, after enough of these projects, my scissors became ruined. They wouldn't cut for shit.
Brooke Burgener's pink scissors however were in perfect condition. They cut paper so well. I was envious of them. Being what I thought was clever back then, I would often switch out our scissors while she wasn't looking, sure she wouldn't notice based alone on the fact that they're pink. How would she be able to tell the difference?
Well she did. And we had an on-going battle throughout that particular seating arrangement. It eventually ended with me getting a new pair of scissors. Blue scissors. But anyway. Brooke and I didn't get off on the right foot.

Now bag to Rags the dog.
We needed something that rhymed with wig wag. Brooke raises her hand.

What if he didn't walk straight and he walked zig zag instead.

Good job Brooke.
So from that point on, the song came to be,

...And when he walks he walks, zig-zag
He goes flip-flop
He goes flip-flop
I love Rags and he loves me

And that's the story of how the song My Dog Rags came to be.


Fast forward 16 years. I'm sitting in my apartment. I'm in college. I'm watching the movie Short Cuts. I haven't thought about My dog Rags in 16 years. There is a scene in Short Cuts with Julianne Moore, the guy from Tremors, Dennis and Dee's mom from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and some other blonde guy. Julianne Moore and the mom from It's Always Sunny are drunk and singing. Do you know what song they're singing? Do you?

Fucking, My Dog Rags. They're singing My Dog Rags. How is this possible? All of these years thinking my Kindergarten teacher wrote that song and here it is being sung in a movie that was made in 1993 which was the year that I was actually in Kindergarten.

And do you know what else? Guess how Rags walked in the Short Cuts version?

I felt so much at that moment. I don't know what. I just felt lied to. I felt betrayed. But I also felt a little satisfied knowing that Brooke Burgener wasn't as clever as I always thought she was.

And so, I may never know the genius mind who truly wrote "My Dog Rags."