Accismus (ak-iz’-mus): A feigned refusal of that which is earnestly desired.

I have been on earth for 78 years. I’m not from another planet, but sometimes I feel like I am. On my 78th birthday, my wife and daughter gave me an attachment for my car’s exhaust pipe that would allow me to “skip” my next birthday. They were a couple of greedy little pack rats who just wanted all my stuff as soon as they could get their hands on it. I hade made millions in the kitty litter business. My “Jolly Boom Drop” was the benchmark kitty litter that all manufacturers aspired to produce. In 1985, I won an award from World Kitty Litter Manufacturers—in my acceptance speech, to shut up all the envious whiners, I said I didn’t really deserve the award. They nodded their heads and applauded. The ploy worked like a charm.

I was smart enough to have a proprietary kitty litter formula, and keep it secret for over 50 years. I was a homeless Vietnam vet when I discovered it. I can’t go into detail, but I was living in a filthy alley, lined with garbage cans and heavily populated by cats, who lived there, hunting vermin, mating and, raising piles of kittens. I’ve aways had a cat. I love my current cat, Uptick—an aging black cat with two white hind feet.

As I got older, my eyesight started to go bad. I looked at ads for service dogs and they all just looked like big, fawning, barking slobberers. So unlike cats—fastidious, standoffish, musically purring, maybe letting you pet them twice a week. I knew this guy named Jonathan who had trained his cat to jump through a hoop, play dead, roll over, and speak—all dog tricks, but what else is there? I resolved to teach Uptick to be a service cat so I could go for walks without getting lost. I got a leash for Uptick that I clipped to his collar. I was ready. We were going to practice by walking around the perimeter of my mansion. We went out the front door and Uptick immediately sat on the sidewalk and started licking his butt. I yelled “No” and he looked at me for a second and then went back to licking his butt.

I was determined to make this work! By now, Uptick had curled up and gone to sleep, giving up on butt licking and snoring his signature cat snore, which sounded like a bumble bee trapped in a paper bag. Then, I got an idea! I had been studying Medieval history. The day before I was reading about catapults. Uptick loves his “Seafood Explosion” kitty treats, and he even chases after them. I could build a small catapult and mount it on Uptick like a saddle, pitching “Seafood Explosion” in front of him to keep him moving forward. I made the device in collaboration with Norm, from “This Old House.” He is an excellent carpenter, but has a gambling problem. I have bailed him out many times and we are very good friends. I named the catapult the “Mete-a-Treat.” So, Norm and I loaded its hopper with “Seafood Explosion” and I pressed the “Hurl” button on the remote control. Perfect! A four foot hurl. Now it was time to give it a test run. Uptick was sleeping on the couch. Norm picked him up and I strapped the Mete-a-Treat on his back. He yowled and scratched Norm’s arm and stared rolling on the floor and scratching the Mete-a-Treat. It’s velcro cinch came loose and “Seafood Explosion” treats went flying all over. Uptick ate his fill and crawled under the couch, peering out between his paws.

So, I got a service dog. I named him Downtick.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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