A National Treasure

We’re going to Readercon tomorrow and while we are gone, we’re having someone house sit for us. Howard Waldrop is watching my dogs.

This doesn’t happen in Ohio. I mean, Howard Waldrop is a national treasure. We’re having a national treasure watch our house. This is a little like having Princess Di watch your house, except that Howard wasn’t hounded to death by papparazzi. I’m assuming if you read Eat Our Brains, you probably know Howard, or know of him. Me, I didn’t meet Howard until a couple of years ago. I met him at Walter Jon William’s Rio Hondo Workshop. The fact that Walter invites me to the Rio Hondo workshop already makes me feel pretty cool. The fact that Howard was coming made me a little nervous. I’d heard lots of stories about Howard, like how he doesn’t use a computer and how he gave a lecture on how to live on $4,638 a year and he sounded facsinating, but what if I wasn’t, you know, cool enough? People who’s opinion I respected a great deal adore Howard. What if I somehow failed to measure up?

Howard doesn’t measure. Howard is generous of spirit. And he knows more stuff than almost anybody. Howard and I got into a discussion of the fall of the empires of mezo-America and the effects of unexpected amounts of rain on the Pueblo cultures. Okay, it wasn’t exactly a conversation so much as I listened and thought, damn, I’d never heard about that. It was cool. Especially when you realize that this guy doesn’t have google.

I have tried really hard to impress on the dogs that Howard is going to be staying here for a few days. The good news is that Howard has met my dogs and, well, Howard likes dogs. And my dogs like Howard. But they aren’t going to be treating him with proper reverance.

The good thing is, I think Howard prefers it that way.

(This link to Howard’s story, The Ugly Chickens, isn’t supposed to work anymore, but as I type this, it still is.)

7 thoughts on “A National Treasure

  1. Wow. Just wow. Ugly Chickens is my favorite short story ever, basically. And I’ve not once read a Waldrop story that I didn’t love.

    Your dogs are living my dream!

  2. I used Howard as the prime example of a Texas Fantasist in my Toastmaster speech at World Fantasy last November — because when folks first began referring to him as a National Treasure, he famously replied:

    “That’s MISTER National Treasure to YOU.”

    This is the essence and attitude of Texas Fantasy in a nutshell. (Although it just barely scratches the surface of Howard himself.)

  3. I’d be interested to learn what effect, if any, Howard has on the dogs. I mean, you may come back to find that they’ve had a transformative experience. I’d find that wholly possible.

  4. Mad, you mean that my dogs will spend the weekend in some sort of alternate universe? One where they meet, say, Tin Tin and Snowy? Or even Rin Tin Tin? And then there are aliens?

    Or maybe the mini dachshund is a alien?

    It’s possible!

  5. Having been a Howard roomie at one time — The Dude and I, Howard, and R.U. Steinberg rented a house together years ago — I can say that the dogs will be fine.

    They will be subjected to reruns of “The Bob Newhart Show” and experimental pancakes, but other than that they’ll survive. Except for the part where they will assume their new human forms at night.

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