• Dan Rattiner

Back In the Day: Wild dogs, buzz cuts, and sofas

Updated: Mar 20, 2020

This appeared in Dan's Papers on June 15, 1999

We were telling wild dog stories the other day. My view is that dogs come in two flavors: those that come when you call and those that when you call their name they cock their heads

and they think about it. Most of the dogs I've ever owned fall into the first category. But I've had one or two that from very early on showed this independent streak. They grew up unruly

and wild. You'd love them but there's not much you can do. Bob Zimmerman told me he once had a dog that was given a summons for being disorderly. It wasn't his dog actually,

although for a weekend it was his responsibility. It was his brother's dog.

"The dog's name was Frisky," Bob told me. "He was aptly named. No one could handle him. One day my brother called and said that he and his family were coming out for the weekend.

And I said fine. What about Frisky? And he said, 'Oh, he's fine, he'll be all right, he'd coming too.' I immediately got off the phone and called the dog groomer, Canine Fashions. I was in a panic. 'I need you to take in a dog and groom him all day Saturday,' I said. 'We're booked up', the lady said. 'Look,' I said, 'this is an emergency! You've got to take him in!' 'OK,' the lady said, 'we'll move things around, but it's gonna cost you.' 'I don't care,' Zimmerman said.

"Saturday morning we rounded up Frisky before he could do too much damage, bundled him into the car, and then I told everybody to enjoy a nice breakfast and I'd take him over to the dog groomer. It was my treat.

"At the groomer, I took him out on a leash and he sat down next to my feet in his finest I'M GOOD fashion. I negotiated the price. But out of the corner of my eye I could see Frisky

looking around, casing the joint.

"'I'm sure we'll have no trouble with him,' the lady said, smiling. 'But you know, we did have to move everybody around. And I told you we'd have to charge quite a bit.' She was

eyeing my clothes which unfortunately were on the expensive side. A hundred and fifty dollars', she told me. I gasped. 'OK, I said, that's fine. Here.'

"And I left.”

"Back at the house we had a fine day. And just before five, I went back to the dog groomer. 'We've had a lot of trouble with him,' the lady said. 'I had no idea.' Frisky was glaring out from behind bars. He was in a cage.

"'It took three people to hold him down,' she said. 'But he still got away. I'm going to have to charge you an additional $150.' 'That's not what we agreed to!' I told her.

"'You have no idea,' she said.

"Well, of course I did. But now we're talking three hundred dollars. 'Look, I said, when you agree on something, that's the deal.'

"The lady got out a pad and pencil and wrote down $150 on it and pushed it across to me.

'This is a summons,' she said. 'We've issued your dog Frisky a ticket for being disorderly.

That's our rules. And we can do that. The fine is $150.' She almost said 'If you want your dog back,' but I saw her sort of bite her tongue.

"The interesting part of this," Zimmerman told me, "is that a few weeks later the incident with the dog ticket still on my mind, I told this story to a friend who is a reporter

for The New York Times. One week after that, the story appeared in the Metropolitan column. And they even named the dog groomer. I was horrified. I was sure there'd be a lawsuit or something. I called the Times reporter and asked how they could do that. She

said she'd read the story aloud to the lady at the dog groomer. And the lady just wanted to make sure that they'd spelled the name right. Amazing."

The truth is, I think, that since the wealthy have sort of taken over much of the Hamptons, many merchants have decided that the more you charge, the better people think you are. Personally, I'll never forget the day I walked into a home furnishings shop and started looking at the tables and chairs and sofas thinking I might buy one. They were pretty good

looking. One sofa was priced at $8,250.00. Or at least that was the price sticker on the throw pillow that was on the sofa. I had a brief conversation with the clerk. It turned out that was the price for the throw pillow. I picked it up and turned it over and over, looking for something that might justify this expense. Maybe there was a diamond embedded in it.

"It's made of chamois," the clerk explained, as if that would explain it.

Two of my sons, 15 and 16, came home one day with another variable on this poor man experience. 15 and 16 year olds, as you know, are generally poor, working as beach boys, mowing lawns, busing tables.

One week the 16 year old got a buzz cut. His mother gave it to him. It was the new fashion in High School. And she got one of those attachments you put on the end of an electric

shaver, and in 45 seconds converted him into what looked like an astronaut.

The kids go to town a lot. It's an exciting place. Very expensive stores. But they hang out with their friends and have a good time. There's a bus they can take home or if they

miss it, they can call us and we'll pick them up. The 15 year old apparently decided that he wanted a buzz cut too. And since they were in town, they went to a barber shop. Of course it wasn't exactly a barber shop. As the 16 year old told me "it had one of those long French names."

I knew what was coming.

"It was really funny," he told me. "We went in and told this man what we wanted done. He had a European accent. And my brother sat down in the chair. Then the man kind of walked

around him and mumbled to himself in French. Then he came over to me and using a mirror he had me turn around and he looked me all over. Then he had me squat down so he could see how the top was done. And then he went back to my brother in the chair and tried discussing it some more.

"We couldn't make sense out of it, of course. It was in French. He did this for about five or ten minutes. We couldn't figure it out. Why couldn't he just figure it out

and do it? Well, finally, he did. He went zip, zip, zip, took him fifteen seconds and he charged us $82. A buzz cut."

It's really not true that on Memorial Day weekend they hire all the townspeople to go out and raise all the prices in all the stores. The prices are already high. The rents are

already high. Welcome to the Hamptons.

- Dan Rattiner


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