“Only to find some peace of mind, you’ve got to pick a pocket or two…….” –Fagin and his band of boy thieves from the musical Oliver.
Recently, I was watching the film Oliver and thinking about how those law-breaking, wallet-stealing…..gin-drinking boys were so darn likeable. Charles Dickens’ gang of child vagabonds stole from the unsuspecting and begged in the streets. And while we certainly disapprove of the behavior of these very unkempt boys…..as the film unfolds, we still believe in the good and innocent child in each of them.
My sweet greyhound, RoofTop Chalie, reminds me of those child thieves sometimes. He is innocent and sweet too…..but sometimes he just wants something that he knows darn well isn’t his. So he has dreams of being a master thief.
And while Chalie has dabbled in minor crime and thievery, he has been relatively unsuccessful. In fact, he’s only had a few incidents that I would even call attempted robbery and they panned out more like a TV episode of one of those “Most Bungled Crime” shows.
Once, at a New Year’s Eve party, Chalie was caught in the act of raiding a buffet table. But instead of greedily gobbling up everything in sight, Chalie was dragging his tongue across the mexican roll-up appetizers and he was clearly taking his good-ole-time. And while he did manage to drool all over the entire tray, too-slow Chalie only managed to eat one or two of the spicy treats before being caught. Smash and Grab on the Mexican Roll-ups: FAIL
Another time, Chalie tried the burglar’s role when he discovered that the kids had left an unattended bag of potato chips on the coffee table. Now, it turns out that the bag was empty by human standards….but those tiny salty crumbs were a-okay to Chalie. But again, Chalie was a failed thief. I discovered him in his criminal act when I heard him whimpering in the den. I found him staggering around the coffee table, with that bright red Ruffles bag stuck clear over his entire head, all the way down to his collar. Potato Chip Larceny: FAIL
So RoofTop Chalie is NOT a skilled thief. He certainly is not an Artful Dodger, who was a stealthy and spry pickpocket…..running through the markets of London, grabbing a pocketwatch or a handkerchief or even a loaf of bread without being caught.
BUT…….it turns out that Chalie does have one skill that would have given him a leg up in Dicken’s rough and rowdy England……
This past Sunday, RoofTop Chalie patiently watched me as I ate a bowl of cereal. And he actually seemed to believe that there was a real possibility that I might dig my spoon into the bowl, pull out a heaping spoonful of wheaties…..and feed it right to him…..just like that! His soft greyhound eyes were locked on mine from across the room and his lower lip even seemed to tremble.
When I didn’t respond, Chalie moved to stage two. Keeping eye contact with me, he stood up, sauntered over, and plopped down directly at my feet, gently resting his head in my lap. With those big brown eyes turned upward toward mine, he heaved his chest and sighed.
And if Chalie could speak, I know what he’d have said. In a sweet, angelic voice, RoofTop Chalie would have whispered to me…….“Please Sir, can I have some more? Please Sir, can I have some……more?”
And if he could talk….and if he had really said those words…..well, I just would have HAD to share my cereal. Who could resist a beggar that cute and charming?
And okay….. I DID share my cereal. But I only gave him a tiny, little bit, I swear. And it wasn’t on my spoon……DEFINITELY not on my spoon! Just a little pinch of wheaties……cause he looked so darn cute and sad and needy. C’mon, what could I do?! Puppy-Eyed Panhandling: Success
So Oliver Twist and the Artful Dodger and all of Fagin’s boys could have used a lesson from RoofTop Chalie and his beggary. Chalie could have made them all rich…..and without all that messy thieving and hanging around with thugs!
Just some big sad doggie eyes and dang…..those rich folks would have willingly turned over their valuables and handkerchiefs and pocket watches…..and even their wheaties!