I grew up, mostly, in northern California, in Marin County. You know — where Zoey lives. I wanted my books to occur where my heart was. It didn’t hurt that I’ve got friends out there who answer questions or take pictures for me when I need to see something more clearly than Google Streetview. (Thanks, Kate! Thanks, Paul!)
But I wasn’t born there. I was born in southern California. And I lived there until I was eight.
Which is a long, rambling way of explaining why the death of a car salesman in L.A. made me sad when I heard about it today.
Cal Worthington was an icon. His commercials demanded attention. What was Cal up to this time? They always started the same way: “I’m Cal Worthington, and this is my dog, Spot!” Spot was never a dog. Not once. I saw Cal ride an elephant, play with goats, walk a pony, wrestle a tiger…I never saw a dog.
Then cue the theme that was reminiscent of the Beverly Hillbillies song sung to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” I never knew what the words were. I didn’t care, I was a kid. I sang along anyway, as loud as I could.
“If you wanna buy a truck, pussycow. If you’re kinda short on cash pussycow. If you wanna lalalal lala lala lalala, pussycow, pussycow, pussycow.
I went back to the area as an adult, and there was Cal on TV, still with his dog spot who still wasn’t a dog, still selling cars in his Slim Pickens outfit and, by God, still playing that song.
Except, now I could understand the words. Pussycow was actually “Go see Cal.” I laughed so hard I nearly peed myself.
And then continued to sing along with the same words I’d already used.
I never bought a car in southern California, so I never had the opportunity to
pussycow go see Cal. But it always made me happy, when I was in the area, to see that his commercials were still going strong.
He was quite the character, and he was part of my childhood. Never underestimate the strange building blocks that make up who you are.
Apparently, ninety-two-year-old Cal died yesterday watching football. I think that’s awesome.
If our pets are all waiting for us on the other side of the tunnel when we die, Cal Worthington had a zoo full of “dogs” named Spot, eager to greet him.
Thanks for the cool addition to my childhood, Cal.
Pussycow. Pussycow. Pussycow.